How to undertake a blood component transfusion
Intended for healthcare professionals
how to series    

How to undertake a blood component transfusion

Katy Cowan Patient blood management practitioner, NHS Blood and Transplant, South West Region, England
Anwen Davies Patient blood management practitioner, NHS Blood and Transplant, South East Coast and South Central Regions, England

Why you should read this article:
  • » To increase your awareness of the patient identification and blood component checks that must be undertaken before administering a blood component

  • » To optimise your practice when undertaking a blood component transfusion, including the required patient observations and steps that should be taken to reduce potential hazards

  • » To understand the evidence base that supports blood component transfusions

Rationale and key points Blood component transfusion, commonly referred to as ‘blood transfusion’, is a general term for the transfusion of red blood cells, platelets, fresh frozen plasma, cryoprecipitate or white blood cells directly into a patient’s circulation. This is usually undertaken via intravenous administration. This article aims to assist nurses in the safe and effective administration of blood components.

The administration of blood components is a relatively common nursing procedure; however, it is associated with several potentially serious hazards.

Blood component transfusion must only be undertaken by a trained healthcare professional whose competency has been assessed.

It is vital that the nurse understands the indication for the blood component transfusion, as well as how to undertake a thorough patient medical history and identity check, and patient observations before, during and after the procedure.

Reflective activity ‘How to’ articles can help update your practice and ensure it remains evidence based. Apply this article to your practice. Reflect on and write a short account of:

How you think this article has changed your practice when undertaking blood component transfusions.

How you could use this resource to support colleagues in undertaking safe and effective blood component transfusions.

Nursing Standard. doi: 10.7748/ns.2018.e11196


Cowan K, Davies A (2018) How to undertake a blood component transfusion. Nursing Standard. doi: 10.7748/ns.2018.e11196

Peer review

This article has been subject to external double-blind peer review and checked for plagiarism using automated software


Conflict of interest

None declared


Please note that information provided by Nursing Standard is not sufficient to make the reader competent to perform the task. All clinical skills should be formally assessed at the bedside by a nurse educator or mentor. It is the nurse’s responsibility to ensure their practice remains up to date and reflects the latest evidence

Published online: 30 July 2018

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