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The Australian Red Cross Blood Service provides a therapeutic venesection program for patients referred by their treating doctor for certain medical conditions. The most common of these is genetic haemochromatosis.

The Blood Service has today (2 January 2013)  introduced an electronic referral system to improve and streamline the referral process for patients with haemochromatosis. It should result in faster approval for patients, so that they can commence their venesections promptly.

Treating doctors can access the referral application at highferritin.transfusion.com.au

From 1 February 2014 the Red Cross Blood Service will no longer accept paper-based referrals for existing therapeutic venesection patients. Paper-based referrals for new patients will not be accepted after 1 May 2013.

The Blood Service accepts patients referred by their treating doctors after approval by their medical officers. Under the previous system, the approval process may have taken several weeks. To be accepted into the therapeutic venesection program, patients need to meet the program criteria and the Blood Service general donor safety guidelines.

Referring doctors are required to provide sufficient information for the medical officers to assess if their patients meet the Blood Service criteria. If the information is incomplete, this can delay the approval process. The new app will assist referring doctors in ensuring that all relevant information is provided to complete the request.

Under the new electronic system, newly referred patients between the ages of 16 to 70 with genetic haemochromatosis, who are in good general health, should be assessed and notified quickly of their eligibility to attend the Blood Service.

The new web-based process, which was designed in consultation with Professor John Olynyk, an expert in the field of iron disorders, has been approved by the Gastroenterological Society of Australia and the Haematology Society of Australia and New Zealand.