Policies and procedures related to testing for weak D phenotypes and administration of Rh immune globulin: results and recommendations related to supplemental questions in the Comprehensive Transfusion Medicine survey of the College of American Pathologists

Arch Pathol Lab Med. 2014 May;138(5):620-5. doi: 10.5858/arpa.2013-0141-CP.


Context: Advances in RHD genotyping offer an opportunity to update policies and practices for testing weak D phenotypes and administration of Rh immune globulin to postpartum women.

Objectives: To repeat questions from a 1999 College of American Pathologists proficiency test survey, to evaluate current practices for testing for weak D and administration of Rh immune globulin, and to determine whether there is an opportunity to begin integrating RHD genotyping in laboratory practice.

Design: The College of American Pathologists Transfusion Medicine Resource Committee sent questions from the 1999 survey to laboratories that participated in the 2012 proficiency test survey. The results of the 2012 survey were compared with those from 1999. Results from published RHD genotyping studies were analyzed to determine if RHD genotyping could improve current policies and practices for serological Rh typing.

Results: More than 3100 survey participants responded to the 2012 questions. The most significant finding was a decrease in the number of transfusion services performing a serological weak D test on patients as a strategy to manage those with a weak D as Rh negative (from 58.2% to 19.8%, P < .001). Data from RHD genotyping studies indicate that approximately 95% of women with a serological weak D could be managed safely and more logically as Rh positive.

Conclusions: Selective integration of RHD genotyping policies and practices could improve the accuracy of Rh typing results, reduce unnecessary administration of Rh immune globulin in women with a weak D, and decrease transfusion of Rh-negative red blood cells in most recipients with a serological weak D phenotype.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Blood Transfusion / statistics & numerical data*
  • Erythrocytes / immunology
  • Female
  • Genotype
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Immunologic Tests / methods*
  • Laboratory Proficiency Testing / standards*
  • Phenotype*
  • Postpartum Period / immunology
  • Rh-Hr Blood-Group System / genetics*
  • Rho(D) Immune Globulin / therapeutic use*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Transfusion Medicine


  • Rh-Hr Blood-Group System
  • Rho(D) Immune Globulin
  • Rho(D) antigen