Patient Blood Management: The Best Approach to Transfusion Medicine Risk Management

Transfus Apher Sci. 2020 Aug;59(4):102779

In an effort to maximise patient safety, transfusion medicine practice culture needs to shift towards a patient blood management approach, with hospitals implementing it as an important tool to minimize the risks of allogeneic blood transfusion.

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In advanced health systems it is increasingly important to offer effective medical services that have high quality and safety standards. We present an overview of the direct hazards and the indirect hazards associated with blood transfusions. Our aim is to focus on the potential medico-legal impacts of these hazards in the context of clinical risk management, incorporating the accumulating evidence from Patient Blood Management programs. The direct or deterministic hazards of transfusion refer to scenarios where the mechanisms for post transfusion damage are clearly traceable to the blood transfused in a 1:1 cause and effect manner. The indirect hazards can be defined as probabilistic and are associated with transfusion through epidemiological studies. The implementation of Patient Blood Management programs demonstrates that the use of a blood transfusion is not always necessary or unavoidable but can be considered modifiable. Review of the literature confirms that transfusion should not be the default option to manage anemia or blood loss. Instead, accumulating evidence demonstrates that a patient-centred, proactive approach to managing a patient’s own blood is the new standard of care. It thus follows, an adverse transfusion event, where the transfusion was avoidable through the application of patient blood management, may constitute a profile for medical professional medical negligence.

In an effort to maximise patient safety, transfusion medicine practice culture needs to shift towards a patient blood management approach, with hospitals implementing it as an important tool to minimize the risks of allogeneic blood transfusion.