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Transfusion Therapy: an overview

Eman Al Mussaed


Transfusion therapy is now a vital medical specialty with well-established practices, principles and guidelines, and often lifesaving part of the treatment of many patients, but carries a significant risk if not performed according to the national guidelines. Transfusion therapy is common in clinical practices and has undergone significant progress over the last decade, particularly with the establishment of an international approach and cooperation among regulatory authorities. Recently, accrediting and regulatory agencies have made specific clinical practice guidelines of blood transfusion. Transfusion should only be given when there is no alternative, as it is potentially hazardous. Blood transfusions have been linked with risks and complications such as transfusion reactions and transmission of pathogens. Such complications have been largely minimized through advancements in blood banking. However, despite all precautions to prevent the complications such as screening for antibodies and markers of infective agents, there is still a very small risk of transfusion reactions and transmission of pathogens. This is part of the reasons why caution is advised in the use of blood and blood components. The physicians should order blood transfusions after conducting a detailed analysis of the patient’s clinical presentation, laboratory values, and consultations with transfusion medicine professionals to make sure that blood transfusions are indicated and appropriate. The inappropriate use of blood components puts patients at unnecessary risk of complications and wasting the resources. This review aims to simplify the understanding of blood transfusion, and focuses on clinical practice guidelines and recommendations for transfusion of blood components. In addition, we discussed the underlying arguments for these recommendations, and updated the multi-disciplinary guideline on transfusion policy of blood and blood components.

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