Blood Transfusion Key Principles

Australia has one of the safest blood supplies in the world.  However, the transfusion of blood and blood products is not without risk and can lead to complications and adverse outcomes for patients.  Blood and blood products should only be given when clearly indicated and expected benefits to the patient outweigh the potential hazards.

Standard 7 of the National Safety and Quality Healthcare Standards mandates how hospitals and clinicians should manage blood and blood product transfusion. The four criterion that must be met cover:  

  • Governance and systems for blood and blood product prescribing and clinical use
  • Documenting patient information
  • Managing blood and blood product safety
  • Communicating with patients and carers.

The following information and links will assist the HMO in managing blood and blood product transfusions.

Check up to date Governance Documentation for Blood and Blood Product Transfusions on the BHS intranet



Zero Tolerance

Know the requirements for taking a pre-transfusion blood sample.  Samples that do not meet requirements shall be discarded by the laboratory and a repeat sample requested.

Group and Hold vs Cross Match


  • Request either a Group and Hold Serum or Crossmatch , but not both.  
  • Group and Hold is the first part of a crossmatch, where blood group and antibody screen is done.
  • Only order units to be crossmatched if you intend to transfuse.


Fresh Frozen Plasma (FFP)



Prescription and Consent


  • All blood and blood product transfusions must be prescribed on the Blood Orders Form MR683.0
  • A patient’s transfusion history must be documented on the Blood Orders Form MR683.0
  • Unless an emergency situation, signed consent must be obtained prior to transfusion using the Blood Transfusion Consent Form MR360.03
  • A patient information leaflet is attached to the consent form and should be given to the patient at the time of consent.
  • Platelets should be ordered as 1 bag (contains an adult dose of platelets that should increase the platelet count by 20,000 – 40,000).


Single Unit Transfusion


  • The aim of transfusion is to relieve symptoms of anaemia and replace blood volume in the trauma patient.  Every bag of blood has the potential to cause harm, so restrictive transfusion practice can be applied in most situations.
  • The practice of single unit transfusion can be applied to stable, normovolaemic adult patients, in an inpatient setting, who do not have clinically significant bleeding.
  • Each unit transfused should be an independent clinical decision


Managing Transfusion Reactions



Patient Blood Management Guidelines (NH&MRC)


Access online here

  • Module 1 – Critical Bleeding / Massive Transfusion
  • Module 2 – Perioperative
  • Module 3 – Medical
  • Module 4 – Critical Care
  • Module 5 – Obstetrics and Maternity
  • Module 6 – Paediatrics / Neonates