For safer blood transfusions
A blood transfusion involves taking blood from the donor and giving it to receiver. The blood goes through a tube from a bag to an intravenous (IV) catheter and into your vein.
You may need a blood transfusion for a number of reasons, including:
* to replace blood lost during major surgery, childbirth or a severe accident
* to treat anemia that has failed to respond to other treatments; anemia is a condition where a person has low levels of red blood cells
* to treat inherited blood disorders, such as thalassaemia or sickle cell anemia
* An illness that causes bleeding, such as a bleeding ulcer.
* An illness that destroys blood cells, such as hemolytic anemia or thrombocytopenia.
* If you have an illness in which your bone marrow doesn't make enough blood, such as aplastic anemia, you may need transfusions.
Is a blood transfusion safe?
The risks of blood transfusions include transfusion reactions (immune-related reactions), non immune reactions, and infections. Blood transfusions are safe if donated blood is carefully tested and tracked. The aim is to reduce the risk of a person being given blood contaminated with a virus, such as hepatitis C & B, or receiving blood from a blood group that's unsuitable for them. Before making a blood donation, the potential donor is asked about their health, lifestyle and history.
After blood has been donated, it's always tested for the following infections:
* hepatitis B
* hepatitis C
* HIV and AIDS
* human T-cell lymphotropic virus (HTLV) - a rare but potentially serious virus, which in some people can cause a type of leukaemia that's usually fatal
You may have a mild allergic reaction even if you get the correct blood type. Signs of a reaction include: fever, hives, shortness of breath, pain, fast heart rate, chills, low blood pressure.
A mild reaction can be scary, but it rarely is dangerous if it's treated quickly.
Before receive a blood transfusion, recipient's blood is tested to determine blood type. Blood or blood components that are compatible with recipient's blood type are ordered by the doctor. This blood may be retested in the hospital laboratory to confirm its type. A sample of recipient's blood is then mixed with a sample of the donor's blood that will receive to check that no problems result, such as red blood cell destruction (hemolysis) or clotting. This process of checking blood types and mixing samples of the two blood sources is called typing and cross matching.
Before actually giving the transfusion, a doctor or nurse will examine the label on the package of blood and compare it to recipient's blood type as listed on medical record. Only when all agree that this is the correct blood and that you are the correct recipient will the transfusion begin.
Sometimes a doctor will recommend that to take acetaminophen, antihistamines, or other medicines to help prevent mild reactions, like a fever or hives, from a blood transfusion. Doctors will stop a blood transfusion if they think you are having a reaction. A reaction may turn out to be mild. But at the beginning, it is hard for doctors to know whether it will be severe. Your doctor will treat a more severe reaction if one occurs.
* Avoid unnecessary and inappropriate transfusions.
* Preventable 'wrong blood into patient' incidents are nearly always caused by human error and may cause fatal reactions due to ABO incompatibility.
* Most mistransfusion incidents are caused by identification errors at the time of pre-transfusion blood sampling, sample handling in the laboratory, collecting the wrong component from the blood bank or transfusion to the patient.
* The identity check between patient and blood component is the crucial final opportunity to avoid potentially fatal mistransfusion.
* At every stage of the blood administration process the key elements are positive patient identification, excellent communication and good documentation. These can be enhanced by the use of electronic transfusion management systems and barcode technology.
* Hospitals should develop local transfusion policies based on national guidelines and ensure all staff involved in the clinical transfusion process is appropriately trained and competency assessed.
* Where possible, patients should give 'valid consent' for transfusion based on appropriate information and discussion, but signed consent is not a legal requirement.
* Non-essential 'out of hours' requests for transfusion and overnight administration of blood should be avoided wherever possible because of an increased risk of errors.