Skin preparation prior to blood collection and transfusion: Cochrane systematic review looks at contamination prevention


Intravenous literature: Webster, J., Bell-Syer, S.E. and Foxlee, R. (2013) Skin preparation with alcohol versus alcohol followed by any antiseptic for preventing bacteraemia or contamination of blood for transfusion. The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. January 31st. CD007948.


BACKGROUND: Blood for transfusion may become contaminated at any point between collection and transfusion and may result in bacteraemia (the presence of bacteria in the blood), severe illness or even death for the blood recipient. Donor arm skin is one potential source of blood contamination, so it is usual to cleanse the skin with an antiseptic before blood donation. One-step and two-step alcohol based antiseptic regimens are both commonly advocated but there is uncertainty as to which is most effective.

OBJECTIVES: To assess the effects of cleansing the skin of blood donors with alcohol in a one-step compared with alcohol in a two-step procedure to prevent contamination of collected blood or bacteraemia in the recipient.

SEARCH METHODS: For this second update we searched the Cochrane Wounds Group Specialised Register (searched 20 November 2012); The Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL) The Cochrane Library 2012, Issue 11; Ovid MEDLINE (20011 to November Week 2 2012); Ovid MEDLINE (In-Process & Other Non-Indexed Citations November 20, 2012); Ovid EMBASE ( 20011 to 2012 Week 46); and EBSCO CINAHL ( 2008 to 15 November 2012).

SELECTION CRITERIA: All randomised trials (RCTs) comparing alcohol based donor skin cleansing in a one-step versus a two-step process that includes alcohol and any other antiseptic for pre-venepuncture skin cleansing were considered. Quasi randomised trials were to have been considered in the absence of RCTs.

DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: Two review authors independently assessed studies for inclusion.

MAIN RESULTS: No studies (RCTs or quasi RCTs) met the inclusion criteria.

AUTHORS’ CONCLUSIONS: We did not identify any eligible studies for inclusion in this review. It is therefore unclear whether a two-step, alcohol followed by antiseptic skin cleansing process prior to blood donation confers any reduction in the risk of blood contamination or bacteraemia in blood recipients, or conversely whether a one-step process increases risk above that associated with a two-step process.

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