Blood transfusion: the common procedure that can go disastrously wrong

Stakes are high when handling and managing blood products – here’s how nurses can prevent errors and keep patients safe
bag of blood ready for transfusion – complying with safety protocols and positive patient identification are essential to reduce risk

Stakes are high when handling and managing blood products – here's how nurses can prevent errors and keep patients safe

  • Failure to follow procedure at any point can mean the patient gets the wrong type of blood
  • Heavy workloads make mix-ups all too easy – positive patient identification is crucial
  • Experts share best practice to help you keep patients safe and put your mind at rest

With around 2.5 million units of blood components transfused in the UK each year, it’s a relatively common and safe nursing procedure – but errors are potentially catastrophic.

‘I suggest that staff see blood transfusion in the same way as a transplant,’ says Mooi Tay, a transfusion practitioner at Severn Pathology, part of North Bristol NHS Trust. ‘If you make a mistake, you cannot get it back. It can kill


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