Safe transfusion practice

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Intravenous literature: Oldham, J., Sinclair, L. and Hendry, C. (2009) Right patient, right blood, right care: safe transfusion practice. British Journal of Nursing, 18(5), p.312-320.

Blood transfusion therapy can save and enhance patients lives but careful consideration must be given to the associated dangers. Nurses must have the skills and knowledge required to care for patients receiving blood components. It is important for nurses to understand the correct and safe way to approach transfusion practice as it is a constant and central component of modern health care. The number of people eligible to donate blood is reducing and each blood component comes from a donation given in good faith: it is given voluntarily with the expectation that it will be used effectively for the benefit of patients. Therefore at every stage of the transfusion process the nurse is responsible for the part they play in making sure that the correct patient receives the correct blood and also that blood components are used and handled with care. This article examines the key principles and practicalities to be considered in day-to-day practice. Areas covered include legal obligations, appropriate handling of blood components, the different elements of the transfusion process, recognition and management of transfusion reactions and education. A key theme running throughout is the management of clinical risk.

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