Undergoing a blood transfusion can be a stressful and daunting experience, but it doesn’t have to be! If you or someone you know needs a blood transfusion, this step-by-step guide will provide the necessary information to navigate the process and give people greater peace of mind.
From understanding why and when a transfusion may be needed to ensuring all safety protocols are followed during treatment, this guide will remove the mystery associated with blood transfusions. With clear explanations of each step, readers will feel more at ease about their healthcare decisions and treatment options.
Table of Contents
What is a Blood Transfusion?
A blood transfusion is a medical procedure involving transferring blood from one person to another. This process commonly treats individuals who have lost significant blood due to severe injury, illness, or surgery. The transfusion can help to replace the lost blood and provide the patient with vital nutrients, oxygen, and immune support. Blood transfusions can be lifesaving and have helped to save countless lives.
However, they are not without risks, and patients must be carefully monitored during the procedure to ensure the transfusion is successful. Blood transfusions are a critical tool in modern medicine, and they continue to play a vital role in treating and managing a wide range of conditions.
When is a Blood Transfusion Necessary?
A blood transfusion may be necessary when a person has lost too much blood due to trauma or surgery, has certain medical conditions (such as sickle cell disease), or needs a particular component, such as red cells or platelets. In some cases, it may also improve oxygen delivery in patients with severe anemia.
What Are the Risks Concerned With Blood Transfusions?
While blood transfusions are generally safe, there is a risk of infection such as hepatitis B or C. Additionally, it may be challenging to find suitable donor blood, and the patient may experience allergic reactions such as hives or difficulty breathing.
How Long Does it Take to Perform a Blood Transfusion?
The duration of the transfusion process can vary from 1 to 4 hours, depending on how much blood the patient requires. The procedure starts with an intravenous (IV) line in their body, where they will receive new blood.
Who Performs a Blood Transfusion?
This medical task is generally administered by healthcare professionals such as Registered Nurses (RNs), Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs), or Licensed Vocational Nurses (LVNs). All actions must be done under the direction of a doctor’s order.
Training Requirements for a Nurse Blood Transfusion Procedure
Nurses usually acquire knowledge through educational programs and medical training to administer this treatment. The NCLEX-RN exam is a significant part of the process, and the candidates must demonstrate their understanding of blood products (i.e., platelets, plasma, etc.). (For tips on passing this test, click here).
Nurses can take the prime blood tubing and labeling course and learn about the safety protocols and quality assurance required for a successful blood transfusion.
Introduction of Blood Transfusion IV Tubing
Blood transfusions are a critical part of modern medicine. They can save lives and improve health outcomes for people suffering from illnesses and injuries. One essential component of the transfusion process is the IV tubing used to deliver the blood from the donor to the recipient.
This tubing is crucial in ensuring the blood remains sterile and delivered safely and efficiently. Without high-quality IV tubings, transfusions would be much riskier and less effective.
Fortunately, many excellent options are available today, and healthcare professionals can choose the proper tubing for each patient’s needs. Ultimately, the goal is to provide safe and effective transfusions that help patients recover and regain their health.
Blood Transfusions Steps- A Detailed Guide
Becoming an expert in this field requires commitment and dedication.
If you want to get familiar with the procedure, these steps should be taken into consideration:
Necessary Equipment for a Blood Transfusion [Step 1]
The suggested supplies for a blood transfusion may include the following:
- IV access.
- Blood warmer.
- Sterile blood bags with an anticoagulant.
- Infusion pump.
- IV fluids/standard saline solution.
- Biohazard waste receptacle.
- Labels and tape for patient identification.
- Gauze and medical adhesive tape for dressing the puncture site after the procedure.
- Gloves and other personal protective equipment (PPE).
- Any other necessary materials or supplies as ordered by the doctor.
Preparation [Step 2]
Finding an Appropriate Type & Crossmatch
Obtain a blood sample to be sent to the blood bank, ensuring it is appropriately labeled and dated. And wait for the blood bank to match and prepare the required units based on the sample you sent them.
Obtaining Informed Consent & Health History
Ensure that the patient is aware of and agrees to all risks associated with a transfusion, in addition to finding out any allergies or contraindications that may exist for the patient. Also, evaluate their health history to determine their suitability for a transfusion.
Preparing Necessary Materials
If necessary, draw up blood into sterile bags with anticoagulant; explain the procedure, risks, and benefits to the patient; document any allergies or previous reactions to transfusions; and obtain informed consent.
Obtaining Large Bore IV Access
This is 18G or larger IV access which must be obtained to establish an appropriate intravenous route for a blood transfusion. Additionally, remember that only normal saline can be used as a solution with blood products. Prime blood tubing and connect it to the patient’s IV line.
Obtaining Baseline Vital Signs
Collect heart rate, blood pressure, temperature, pulse oximeter readings, respiratory rate, lung sounds, and accurate urine output before beginning the transfusion. Alert the doctor if the patient’s temperature is over 100° F.
Administering the Transfusion
Once the blood bank informs you that the blood is ready, schedule its delivery from the bank.
One unit of packed red blood cells (pRBCs) must be hung at a time, and remember that once it has been released to your patient, you have 20-30 minutes to begin the transfusion and up to 4 hours to complete it.
Initiating a Blood Transfusion [Step 3]
Verification of Blood Product
Two Registered Nurses (RNs) must confirm the following before continuing:
- Compare physician orders to blood bank documentation, ensuring patient identification matches.
- Confirm the patient’s name, date of birth, and medical record number.
- Check that donor and recipient blood types and Rh-factors are compatible.
- Ensure that the blood has not expired.
Blood Transfusion Patient Education
Notify the patient about potential transfusion reactions such as rash, itching, elevated temperature, chest or back pain, headache, chills/sweats, increased heart rate or respiratory rate, decreased urine output/blood in urine, nausea, or vomiting.
Ensure the patient is aware to contact the RN if these signs occur during transfusion.
Assessing and Documenting Status
Take baseline vital signs (HR, RR, Temp., SPO2, BP) and record lung sounds, color, and amount of urine output.
Starting the Transfusion
Set up Y tubing with normal saline and have the blood connected to the infusion pump ready to begin transfusion. Start by running slowly for 15 minutes (2mL/min or 120cc/hr).
Remain with the patient during this time, as most reactions can occur here. Increase the rate once the patient is stable after 15 minutes if no reaction has occurred. Document vitals after 15 minutes, then hourly until completion.
During the Transfusion
Monitor the patient for any signs of transfusion reaction such as allergic reactions, fever, GVHD (Graft vs. Host Disease), or TRALI (Transfusion Related Acute Lung Injury).
If any are suspected, stop the transfusion immediately and disconnect the tubing from the patient. Remain with them to check vitals every five minutes and notify the doctor and blood bank. Document all findings.
After the Transfusion
Flush Y tubing with normal saline, then dispose of in a red biohazard bin. Obtain post-transfusion vital signs and document status.
Blood Transfusion Recovery
The patient may experience soreness near the puncture site, which should dissipate soon. The doctor may recommend a follow-up visit after the procedure.
Blood Transfusion Reaction
There are a few different types of reactions that may occur during or after a blood transfusion, including:
- Hemolytic reaction – caused by incompatible blood types
- Febrile reaction – caused by an immune response to foreign antigens in the donor’s blood
- Anaphylactic reaction – It is caused by an allergic reaction to the donor’s blood
- Acute lung injury (TRALI) – It is caused by white blood cells in the donor’s plasma
- Transfusion-related graft versus host disease – caused by a reaction between donor and recipient white blood cells
The key is to be alert to any signs of discomfort or distress during or after the transfusion and take all necessary steps to prevent reactions.
Blood Transfusion Prognosis & Aftercare
The prognosis for a successful transfusion is usually very favorable, and most patients experience relief from symptoms after the procedure. However, it is essential to monitor vital signs closely during the transfusion and afterward to detect any reactions that may occur.
Nurses should give proper aftercare guidelines to ensure optimal recovery and reduce the risk of complications or adverse effects.
Follow-up visits with the doctor should be scheduled as the healthcare provider instructs, and any unusual symptoms or reactions should be reported promptly.
Additionally, patients should drink plenty of fluids during recovery to replace lost blood volume and prevent dehydration.
Why Should Nurses Learn How to Process a Blood Transfusion?
Millions of people worldwide rely on blood transfusions to stay alive, and nurses and physicians must thoroughly understand this medical intervention to provide proper care. In recent years, the demand for blood transfusions has been steadily increasing.
As a nurse responsible for carrying out doctor’s orders, it’s your job to make sure that all necessary steps are taken before a transfusion is administered; this can include prepping the patient, obtaining their history and lab work, ensuring proper documentation, and making sure needed supplies are available.
It’s important to remember that nursing is an ever-changing field with unpredictable life-or-death situations. Before deciding which specialization to pursue, reflect on your goals and find a facility that suits your needs. Furthermore, ensure that you pick the right school for acquiring the knowledge and skill sets required to become a practical nurse.
Blood transfusions are an essential medical procedure that can save lives. Nurses are responsible for taking all necessary precautions and following established protocols to ensure a successful, safe, and comfortable patient experience.
As a nurse, staying up-to-date on the latest advances in blood transfusion techniques and technology and any potential risks and complications is essential. By doing so, you can help ensure the safety of all patients and provide them with the best possible care.
Mrs. Marie Brown has been a registered nurse for over 25 years. She began her nursing career at a Level I Trauma Center in downtown Chicago, Illinois. There she worked in the Emergency Department and on the Surgical Intensive Care Unit. After several years, she moved to the Midwest and continued her nursing career in a critical care setting. For the last 10 years of her nursing career, Mrs. Brown worked as a flight nurse with an air ambulance service. During this time, she cared for patients throughout the United States.