Blood Transfusion

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Blood Transfusions 101
By: Nicola Karen Adamson, NHS Tayside, BN, DipHe
Purpose
The purpose of this module is to teach the clinical RN the basics of blood, how to administer a blood/blood component transfusion safely, and the hazards of transfusion related to blood administration. This module is indicated for teaching purposes based on the fact that the NHS requires at least quarterly review of blood usage, oversight of blood transfusion practices, documentation of blood transfusion errors, and evidence of corrective actions taken. Results of one study found that "individuals ' lack of knowledge and training, along with inadequate policies and procedures, were the key elements in more than 350 blood transfusion-associated deaths" (Bower & Craig, 1997)
What is a Blood Transfusion?
A blood transfusion is a safe, common procedure in which blood is given to you through an intravenous (IV) line in one of your blood vessels. Blood is transfused either as whole blood (with all its parts) or, more often, as individual parts. The individual parts include red blood cells, platelets, clotting factors, and plasma. Each year, almost 5 million Americans & British need a blood transfusion. While most blood transfusions go well, mild complications can occur and serious problems may develop.
The Individual Parts Defined
Red Blood Cells
-the most numerous blood cell, about 5,000,000 per microliter. Red blood cells make up about 40% of our total blood volume, a measure called the hematocrit. Their color is caused by hemoglobin, which accounts for nearly all of the red cell volume. Hemoglobin is the critical protein that transports oxygen from our lungs to the tissues. Red blood cells are normally shaped as round, biconcave discs.

Red Blood Cells
(Image obtained from http://embryology.med.unsw.edu.au/Notes/heart20.htm) Platelets
-the smallest of the three major types of blood cells, are only about 20% of the diameter of red blood cells and the normal



References: Blood Types Chart. Retrieved October 11, 2010 from http://www.buzzle.com/articles/blood-types-chart.html    Craig, V., Bower, J. "Blood administration in perioperative settings." AORN. July, 1997.

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