Triage tool for the rationing of blood for massively bleeding patients during a severe national blood shortage: guidance from the National Blood Transfusion Committee

Br J Haematol. 2020 Nov;191(3):340-346. doi: 10.1111/bjh.16736. Epub 2020 May 20.


The emerging COVID-19 pandemic has overwhelmed healthcare resources worldwide, and for transfusion services this could potentially result in rapid imbalance between supply and demand due to a severe shortage of blood donors. This may result in insufficient blood components to meet every patient's needs resulting in difficult decisions about which patients with major bleeding do and do not receive active transfusion support. This document, which was prepared on behalf of the National Blood Transfusion Committee in England, provides a framework and triage tool to guide the allocation of blood for patients with massive haemorrhage during severe blood shortage. Its goal is to provide blood transfusions in an ethical, fair, and transparent way to ensure that the greatest number of life years are saved. It is based on an evidence- and ethics-based Canadian framework, and would become operational where demand for blood greatly exceeds supply, and where all measures to manage supply and demand have been exhausted. The guidance complements existing national shortage plans for red cells and platelets.

Keywords: National Blood Transfusion Committee; blood shortage; guidance; massive bleeding; triage.

Publication types

  • Practice Guideline

MeSH terms

  • Betacoronavirus*
  • Blood Banks* / standards
  • Blood Donors* / supply & distribution
  • Blood Transfusion / methods
  • Bloodless Medical and Surgical Procedures
  • COVID-19
  • Coronavirus Infections* / epidemiology
  • Disaster Planning
  • Health Care Rationing* / ethics
  • Health Care Rationing* / methods
  • Health Care Rationing* / standards
  • Hemorrhage / epidemiology
  • Hemorrhage / therapy
  • Humans
  • Pandemics*
  • Pneumonia, Viral* / epidemiology
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Triage* / ethics
  • Triage* / methods
  • Triage* / standards
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology