Treatments and tests

Patient blood management – consent

Blood transfusions

A blood transfusion is when a patient receives blood from a donor through a vein by an intravenous infusion (or drip). A transfusion usually occurs when a patient has lost significant blood from an accident or surgery.

Blood transfusions are generally safe, with all donated blood screened for blood­borne diseases such as hepatitis, syphilis and HIV. However, blood transfusions do carry some risks. Your doctor should explain why the transfusion is required and talk about the benefit expected and any risks of receiving blood. The discussion should include the possible benefits and risks of alternatives including avoiding transfusion.

Not all surgical patients will require a blood transfusion, and by planning ahead with your doctor, some transfusions can be avoided or minimised.

Before your surgical or medical procedure, you may wish to ask your doctor some questions about the risks and benefits of receiving a blood transfusion.

  • How can I optimise my blood count and iron levels?
  • Are there any medications, herbal or vitamin supplements I should stop taking before my procedure? Is there a possibility of blood transfusion with my planned procedure?
  • Do I have other options to avoid a blood transfusion in my procedure?
  • If a blood transfusion becomes likely during my surgery, can you limit the amount of blood you give me?

You have the right to be part of the decision-making process in your care.

Patient resources

Where to get help

This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your healthcare professional. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional for a diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.

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