Reducing adverse events in blood transfusion

Br J Haematol. 2005 Oct;131(1):8-12. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2141.2005.05702.x.


Against a background of ever increasing expenditure on blood safety, less attention has been paid to improving the safety of the transfusion chain within hospitals. Based on reports to the Serious Hazards of Transfusion (SHOT scheme) between 1996 and 2003, the risk of an error occurring during transfusion of a blood component is estimated at 1:16 500, an ABO incompatible transfusion at 1:100 000 and the risk of death as a result of an 'incorrect blood component transfused' (IBCT) is around 1:1 500 000. There are opportunities for error at a number of critical points in the transfusion chain, starting with the decision to transfuse, prescription and request, patient sampling, pretransfusion testing and finally the collection of the component from the blood refrigerator and administration to the patient, consistently the commonest error in successive SHOT reports. Successive 'Better Blood Transfusion' initiatives and the 2003 Annual Report of the Chief Medical Officer for England have drawn welcome attention to the importance of safe and appropriate transfusion and the National Patient Safety Agency has now set a target of reducing the number of ABO incompatible transfusions by 50% over 3-5 years.

MeSH terms

  • Blood Group Incompatibility
  • Blood Transfusion / standards
  • Humans
  • Medication Errors / prevention & control*
  • Medication Errors / statistics & numerical data
  • Patient Identification Systems
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Quality Assurance, Health Care*
  • Risk Management
  • Transfusion Reaction*
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology