Alert Cards for Cold Agglutinin Disease

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by Mary Chapman |

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clinical alert cards for CAD

Clinical alert items such as blood lab cards and bedside blood cards are important tools for people with cold agglutinin disease (CAD).

What is CAD?

CAD is a rare autoimmune disorder in which exposure to cold temperatures causes autoantibodies, or cold agglutinins, to bind tightly to red blood cells, inducing their lysis (disintegration) and resulting in anemia.

The disorder may manifest as a primary disease, in which its underlying cause is unclear, or as a secondary disease that develops following another medical issue such as infections, certain blood cancers, or other autoimmune diseases.

What are blood lab cards?

CAD patients have to give blood routinely, to detect and measure the amount of cold agglutinins in the body. If you have CAD, it’s important that, before the procedure, clinicians are aware of your disorder and how to handle your blood sample. That’s where a blood lab card comes in handy. You should give the wallet-sized card to the laboratory technician or healthcare team.

Such an alert card should state that you have CAD. It should also say that your blood sample can agglutinate and be unusable at temperatures lower than 37°C (98.6F) and should be kept warm until it is ready to be tested. It is also important for the card to plainly and conspicuously state that your blood must not be refrigerated. Here is a sample card.

You may want to craft and print out your own card. Carry it with you at all times, and give a copy to a caregiver or family member in case you have to go to hospital for severe anemia or other medical complications.

What are bedside blood cards?

A traditional bedside card includes information about the patient’s identity. Ideally, it includes basic information such as admission status, diagnosis, and anticipated procedures.

A similar card is a bedside blood card. It contains information about a patient’s blood group, which is crucial for blood transfusions. In the case of CAD, such cards can give physicians and others a quick summary of a patient’s blood condition.

An example of the importance of bedside blood cards

In 2018, researchers in Switzerland documented the case of an 89-year-old man who was hospitalized at Geneva University Hospitals with a history of multiple conditions, including episodes of CAD-related anemia secondary to lymphoma, a cancer of the lymphatic system.

The patient was to undergo a blood transfusion. His attending nurse saw on the blood card that the patient’s blood agglutinated, even in the control well. As a consequence, transfusion was performed successfully using a blood warmer.


Last updated: Oct. 22, 2020


Cold Agglutinin Disease News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.