Transfusion services are unsafe in many settings. Some of the blood is donated by commercial sex workers and drug users who are minimally screened fro various infections. Foe instance, less than half of the donated blood in the world is safe. Blood transfusion services staff and the health workers who give transfusion are not trained professionally and are ignorant of the risks exposed to themselves as well as to the patients. Therefore, even though the blood is screened, the staff may not know how to interpret the results. Some physicians are also known to demand the blood before the tests are completed even when it is not an emergency. In some instances, blood is transfused before doing cross-matching in case of emergency. Patients who are transfused with such blood are sometimes discovered to have contracted HIV, HCV, HBV or even some other diseases.
Proper donor selection and informed consent must be ensured.
It is therefore important to perform donor selection process in order to ensure blood supply safety. This is done to identify certain medical problems, behavior as well as events that expose one to the infection risk and transmitting the disease to the blood recipient. The donors should therefore be asked to give information regarding their medical history. Physical examination should be carried out to check whether the donor’s blood pressure as well as pulse. Again, both the lungs and the heart should be checked using the stethoscope. Their hematocrit and hemoglobin should also be checked. Potential donors should at least 17years of age, unless in special circumstances where a minor is expected to donate blood. In general terms, the donor should be in healthy condition and should not be a carrier of certain ailments.
Informed consent is required before blood collection. The terms of donation should be explained in simple and understandable language, and if possible, the patient’s primary language should be used. Information must be given regarding the potential risks of venipuncture and the potential response due to blood removal. The donor should also be ware that there is the possibility of feeling light headed and a possibility of fainting after blood removal. It should also be mentioned to the donor that some tests will be performed on him to reduce the chances of transmitting diseases such as syphilis and some blood borne viruses. The donor must also be given a chance to ask questions as regards the procedure and should be free to refuse the consent. They should clearly understand how they will receive the news regarding their medical abnormalities found during the laboratory tests. Appropriate counseling and referral should be offered as well.
Proper information should be given to the recipient.
Careful decision should be made to transfuse a patient. The need for transfusion is always the main determinant. Risks should also be considered and proper comparisons ought to be made. Alternatives and potential benefits must also be considered. The patient should be properly informed on the need for his blood transfusion. He should be free to ask any questions regarding the procedure. Finally he should accept that he understands both the benefits and the risks involved. A relative or a friend (adult friend) should give consent in case the patient is unconscious or is not able to give his consent. Whole blood transfusion is given to patients who have had acute blood loss to restore the blood volume or to patients who are anemic to prevent symptomatic.
Safety of donors and recipients during blood transfusion is important.
During blood transfusion, it is important to prevent complications and nosocomial infections. The collection of blood, processing, storage as well as transfusion of blood should be done with a lot of care. This is true because blood is an essential service in all the acute care hospitals as well as the surgical centers. The blood ought to be of high quality. Blood donors’ safety should be provided. The recipients must also be taken good care of and the procedure should be performed by qualified health staff. Infection prevention practices which are recommended should be followed by the medical staff for efficiency purposes. This means that transfusions which are not necessary should not be performed, potential donors should be thoroughly screened for diseases, blood should be collected in a closed system to prevent contamination, correct temperatures for storage should be ensured and compatibility of the donor’s blood to that of the patient must be ensured (Lipscomb and Rosenstock, 1997).
Workers safety should be considered.
The health care workers must also be protected. These are the workers working in the blood banks as well as those doing the transfusion job. All these workers are exposed to risks due to exposure to blood with pathogenic organisms while collecting blood specimen, at testing and during infusion of the blood to the recipient. Accidental injuries may also occur while using the needles, blades, scalpels and broken glassware. This is in deed the leading cause of infections in the laboratories. Blood may also be splashed or sprayed in the mouth, eyes or the nasal cavity. The staff should therefore use facemasks which are clear or the surgical mask which reduces such risks. The work surfaces should be decontaminated using a chlorine solution every day or after contamination, for example, after spilling of blood. Leak proof plastic bags should also be used and the waste containers should be covered.
To improve blood bank and transfusion conditions.
Blood bank and the transfusion services need to be made safer and better. Such services should be properly supervised and closely monitored. In poor countries where resources are scarce, blood screening is limited. Diseases such as syphilis are not screened properly which increases the chances of infecting the recipient. Some life threatening infections end up being reported in such cases. The ministry of health should therefore intervene. Policies and guideline of blood bank and transfusion must be put in place which must be enforced by the hospital administrator as well as the infection prevention committees. This will help improve the safety and quality of blood transfusion.