Consent for transfusion

Latest SaBTO recommendations 2020

In December 2020 the Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs (SaBTO) published updated recommendations on obtaining patient consent for blood transfusion. They provide additional guidance specific to consent for blood transfusion, including identification of which patients should be consented and duration of consent. The work was undertaken by SaBTO and the final report amended after professional and lay consultation.

Providing patients with information 

Following a Supreme Court judgement in 2015 (Montgomery v Lanarkshire Health Board [2015] UKSC 11) there is an increased duty for a clinician to provide a patient with accurate, up-to-date information about the risks, benefits and alternatives to the proposed medical or surgical procedure. Courts now endorse and expect a collaborative approach to consent.

 “The doctor is... under a duty to take reasonable care to ensure that the patient is aware of any material risks involved in any recommended treatment, and of any reasonable alternative or variant treatments”

The material risk of transfusion to an individual can only be determined by the clinical team caring for that patient. “The test of materiality is whether, in the circumstances of the particular case, a reasonable person in the patient’s position would be likely to attach significance to the risk, or the doctor is or should reasonably be aware that the particular patient would be likely to attach significance to it".

Information to support clinical staff

Consent for Transfusion sticker pads - if you require copies, please email advising the quantity and delivery address. Please note, once our current stock is exhausted it will not be replenished, electronic copies are below if you wish to order further copies from your print supplier: 

Consent pad

Information leaflets written specifically for patients about blood transfusion

National Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease Research & Surveillance Unit, University of Edinburgh website

Public Health England: Annual review of data regarding infections in blood, tissue and organ donors
This data shows the low risk of infection from blood transfusion in the UK, and can be used to compare the UK against blood services around the world.

Infographics from the review

Serious Hazards of Transfusion (SHOT), an independent, professionally-led haemovigilance scheme:

2019 report (PDF) see Participation to United Kingdom (UK) Haemovigilance Scheme (chapter 2); Headline Data: Deaths, Major Morbidity and ABO-Incompatible Transfusions (chapter 3) and Key Messages and Recommendations (chapter 4).

Definitions of SHOT reporting categories (PDF)

Report summary (PDF)

Risk of transfusion teaching slide (PDF) see slide 22

Trust resources

Thanks to these trusts which have agreed to share their processes and findings to help others implement consent.

Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust Adult Blood Transfusion Care Pathway
Pathway for administration of blood components / products (PDF)

University Hospital Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust in association with NHSBT
Having a blood transfusion - YouTube video which explains all you need to know about having a blood transfusion