Skin preparation prior to blood donation


Intravenous literature: Webster, J., Bell-Syer, S.E. and Foxlee, R. (2009) Skin preparation with alcohol versus alcohol followed by any antiseptic for preventing bacteraemia or contamination of blood for transfusion. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 3.


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 strategy – We searched the Cochrane Wounds Group Specialised Register (March 10 2009); The Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL) The Cochrane Library 2009, Issue 1; Ovid MEDLINE – (1950 to February Week 4 2009); Ovid EMBASE – (1980 to 2009 Week 9); and EBSCO CINAHL – (1982 to February Week 4 2009). We also searched the reference lists of key papers.

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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