By: 20 May 2013

The Royal College of Anaesthetists has published online the guidelines from the Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs (SaBTO) about patient consent regarding blood transfusions. An important addition is that patients must be told if they have received a blood transfusion in case they unwittingly become a donor themselves.

In 2010 SaBTO ran a consultation on patient consent for blood transfusion and the result of this was that the respondents thought there was a need for:

  • ensuring that best practice as outlined by the GMC is followed – indeed NHS consent forms for surgery usually include the option to document consent for blood transfusion if required
  • a modified form of consent for long-term multi transfused patients, which should be reviewed on a regular basis with patients – these are often medical patients treated on the medical wards
  • a generic information resource for healthcare professionals to assist discussions on consent for transfusion
  • standardised patient information leaflets in the UK
  • retrospective information for patients who have received a blood transfusion – unplanned transfusions do occasionally occur during surgery, this was a concern for anaesthetists and such information could be used postoperatively if this took place
  • improved training on consent and its relevance in transfusion for clinical staff to inform discussion with patients during the consent process

SaBTO was set up to advise ministers of the UK government and the devolved administrations as well as UK health departments on the most appropriate ways to ensure the safety of blood, cells, tissues and organs for transfusion or transplantation.

The SaBTO recommendations in full can be seen here: