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Celebrating Barcode Day: ICCBBA and the ISBT 128 Standard

Enhancing Traceability, Trackability, Safety, and Biovigilance in Managing MPHO with ISBT 128

26 June 2024 marks the 50th anniversary of the widespread implementation of one of the most useful tech tools to encode and display complex information quickly: the barcode. Today, we use barcodes in everything from simple grocery store transactions and inventory management to complex tracking and tracing for blood products and other medical products of human origin (MPHO). With the ISBT 128 Standard, ICCBBA manages the system for thousands of facilities worldwide to track and trace lifesaving MPHO with barcodes.

A Bit of History

Originally invented by Bernard Silver and Norman Woodland in the 1940s, the first barcodes were designed around the dots and dashes of Morse code. Patented in 1952, the codes were initially used to track and identify passing train cars before being presented as an option for grocer automated checkout systems in the 60s.  The bullseye design of the original was replaced with the vertical bars we know today and in 1974, the first barcode was used for a grocery store purchase.

Present Day

Today, the ISBT 128 Standard relies on barcodes for ease of data transmission and trackability of MPHOs from facility to facility. Each label could present linear barcodes that digitally monitor expiration dates, special testing options, ISBT 128 product codes and the assigned Donation Identification Number (DIN). Labels initially used standard1-D format barcodes, such as Code 128, to encode all the sample’s information. More recently however, new 2-D style formats, such as data matrix structures, have been incorporated onto labels, encapsulating even more information within a smaller space. The newer format aids in improved patient safety and allows a wider implementation across more regions worldwide.

ISBT 128 and Barcodes

50 years after its debut, barcodes have grown from a novelty invention into a worldwide benchmark of information transfer. The ISBT 128 Standard uses 1-D and 2-D barcodes to track and trace lifesaving MPHOs worldwide from donor to patient. As technology continues to improve in the years to come, ICCBBA and the ISBT 128 Standard will be at the forefront of utilizing these tools to ensure patient safety and MPHO traceability.

Happy Barcode Day!


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About ICCBBA:  

ICCBBA is the international standards organization responsible for the management and development of the ISBT 128 Standard.  

The acronym ISBT was originally derived from the important role played by the International Society of Blood Transfusion in the development of the Standard. Today it expands as Information Standard for Blood and Transplantation. The number 128 reflects the 128 characters of the ISO/IEC 646 7-bit character set.  

The acronym ICCBBA is derived from the International Council for Commonality in Blood Banking Automation.  

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Media Contact: Christina Salinas 



Creative Services Coordinator, ICCBBA


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