Provision of Timely Alternative Multidisciplinary Protocols for Patients Refusing Blood or Blood Products


Transfusion refusers
Perioperative care

How to Cite

Melamed, N. (2023). Provision of Timely Alternative Multidisciplinary Protocols for Patients Refusing Blood or Blood Products: An Audit. The Physician, 8(3), 1-6.


Blood components and products are life-saving therapeutics but with inherent, life-threatening risks. There are patients who do not accept blood products for different reasons, including fear of blood borne viruses, transfusion reactions and religious beliefs. It is important to determine the standard of care and outcomes for such patients, within any clinical setting. The aim of this audit was to evaluate adherence to the agreed standard of care for patients who do not accept blood transfusion.


All patients who refused transfusions between 2019 and 2021 were included.  Scanned forms and Electronic Patient Records were used to gather data. Expected care standards were: (1) a multidisciplinary team (MDM) led alternative care plan, agreed at least 3 weeks prior to the intervention/ procedure, to prepare for blood loss, and (2) that the MDM should involve: either a surgeon or physician, anaesthetist (if the treatment is surgical or antenatal), haematologist or transfusion practitioner and the patient.


There were 195 patients referred to MDMs, of which 105 were surgical (54%), 52 were interventional (27%) and 38 were antenatal (19%). Of these, 188 (96%) were sent before a procedure (or birth) with the remaining 7 (4%) referred for ongoing treatment of medical patients, i.e. with severe anaemia. In 72 patients (38%) the MDM did take place ≥3 weeks before the procedure (similar to the results from the first cycle of the audit, in 2017-18 = 40%). Almost 85% (165) of MDM included all relevant stakeholders.


The delay in timely referral for MDM led alternative care plan was likely due to a lack of awareness of transfusion policies, and potentially could lead to cancellation of the procedure or unavailability of alternative protocols in an emergent scenario during surgery or intervention.


Improvement was required for safer procedures and outcomes, by investment in training, regular refreshers/ updates for staff and electronic protocols/ prompts.


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