ISBT 128 Labelling

Blood component labels contain clinically important information about a specific component.

Labels can have modifier texts which specify modifiers of the blood component, such as red cell phenotype or CMV antibody status.  You should be familiar with their meanings.

Always transfuse components only when labels confirm desired characteristics of blood issued for transfusion: for example, components that have been processed (eg. irradiated) or are either positive or negative for particular antigens [eg. RHD, Rh(E) or K].

From 18 November 2018, the Blood Service is moving to the ISBT 128 labelling standard.

The introduction of ISBT 128 (Information Standard for Blood and Transplant) in Australia will provide us with an internationally recognised standard for blood component labelling that offers improved traceability and safety for patients and donors.

ISBT 128 transition label

With the move to the ISBT 128 standard blood component labels will change with the introduction of a new ISBT 128 ‘Component Transition Label’ (shown below). This will include both ISBT 128 barcodes as well as the current Codabar linear barcodes, allowing health providers who do not yet have ISBT 128 capability to continue managing their inventory without interruption. 

ISBT 128 Transition Label - November 2018.png

What does this change mean for me?

The new ISBT 128 ‘Transition Label’ is very different to the component label that is currently in use and that you are familiar with. Therefore, it is important to be prepared regardless of whether you are adopting ISBT 128 in your facility or continuing to use the existing Codabar barcodes. 

To ensure that you can continue to receive blood products from the Blood Service you will need to consider the impact of this change on your existing processes:

  1. ISBT 128 uses a different barcode symbology. If you are planning to adopt ISBT 128 you will need to consider the impact on your existing IT systems and software. Are they ISBT 128 compatible? 
  2. The ISBT 128 ‘Transition Label’ is much larger in size than the current blood component label and the barcodes and blood component information are located in different positions. Will this have an impact on how you store blood packs in your facility? Are blood packs stored to allow easy readability of certain information such as expiry date?
  3. The Donation Identification Number (DIN; Label#) will be changing from a 7-digit number to 13 alpha-numeric characters, plus flag characters and a manual entry check character. Please consider how you are using the DIN in your facility and where it is being captured. For example are you recording this number on your forms or entering it into your laboratory analysers? If it is being captured in this way, will the longer alphanumeric DIN be accepted?
  4. The ISBT 128 ‘Transition Label’ will have both ISBT 128 barcodes and existing Codabar barcodes. You will need to understand how to read the new label and how to use the information it contains.  It is important you know which barcodes your facility will need to scan and where the information you require is located.
  5. Will introduction of the new label, require your forms and procedure documents to be updated?
  6. Do you need to advise your staff of this change and organise training to ensure they understand the new ISBT 128 ‘Transition Label’ and are ready to receive blood components from us? 

The change to ISBT 128 is significant and will have an impact on all of our customers receiving blood components and products from the Blood Service. Your facility must review its current processes. This will be the first step in getting ready for ISBT 128 and will form the basis of your planning for this change. 

The Blood Service will develop a number of communications over the coming months to support you in your preparations. We are also available to run webinars for staff in your facility upon request. 

An online learning module can be accessed via the resources section of our website. This will provide you with an introduction to ISBT 128 labelling and can also be used as a resource to introduce ISBT 128 to staff in your facility. 

Please send any queries to

► Download the Australian Guidelines for the Labelling of the Blood Components using ISBT128