Red cell priority levels

Refer to Prescribing Red Cells for evidence-based guidelines on red cell prescription.

*Surgery: Refer to Department of Health directives for prioritisation of surgery.

  • Life-threatening or ongoing blood loss from any cause, including major trauma and obstetric haemorrhage.
Surgical support*
  • Emergency surgery (ie. patient likely to die within 24 hours without surgery), including cardiac and vascular procedures.
  • Urgent surgery (ie. patient likely to have major morbidity if surgery not performed).
  • Organ transplantation that cannot be deferred.
Nonsurgical anaemia  
  • Life-threatening anaemia, including patients requiring in utero support or in neonatal intensive care.
  • Support for stem cell transplantation or chemotherapy that cannot be delayed.
  • Patients with severe bone marrow failure, haemoglobinopathies or other conditions unable to tolerate delay in transfusion.
Surgery* and obstetrics
  • Semi-urgent surgery (ie. patient likely to have minor morbidity if surgery is not performed).
  • Cancer surgery that cannot be deferred without risk to patient.
  • Symptomatic, but non-life threatening, postoperative or postpartum anaemia.
  • Nonsurgical anaemia.
Nonsurgical anaemia
  • Symptomatic but non-life-threatening anaemia, (including postoperative) of any cause that cannot be managed by other means.
  • Elective surgery requiring two or more red cells.                                                                                                                                                                            
Nonsurgical anaemia   
  • Other non-urgent medical indications for transfusion.

National Blood Authority National Blood Supply Contingency Plan v2.0. July 2019. [Accessed 6 April 2020]. Available from:


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