Does your patient need a transfusion?

If used appropriately, blood components and plasma-derived blood products can save lives and provide clinical benefit to many patients.

The decision on whether to transfuse should be carefully considered taking into account the full range of available therapies, and balancing the evidence for efficacy and improved clinical outcome against the potential risks. Transfusion should not be a default decision.(1)

  • What improvement in the patient’s condition am I aiming to achieve?
  • Can I minimise blood loss to reduce the patient's need for transfusion?
  • Are there other treatments I should give before making the decision to transfuse, such as intravenous replacement fluids, oxygen, iron replacements or other haematinics?
  • Has the patient given informed consent after a discussion about the potential risks and benefits of blood component therapy in their particular case?
  • To assist with your decision-making, we recommend referring to the transfusion checklist and the National Blood Authority Patient Blood Management Guidelines. The decision to transfuse is the prescriber’s responsibility.

As the prescribing clinician, you should ensure that blood component therapy is only given when clearly indicated. In addition, make sure your patient is monitored during the transfusion.

Read the use of specific blood components:

► Red cells

► Platelets

► Fresh frozen plasma

► Cryoprecipitate

► Cryodepleted plasma

► Whole blood

Always remember that successful and safe transfusion practice depends on administering a blood component of the right type, in the right amount, in the right way, at the right time to the right patient.

  1. National Blood Authority. Patient Blood Management Guidelines: Modules 1 – 6 Australia, 2011-2016.