Press Release

Joint Statement on the issue of “A Guideline for Transfusion of Red Cells in Surgical Patients” prepared by the National Blood Users Group

Mr Micheál Martin, T.D., Minister for Health and Children, and Professor John Bonnar, Emeritus Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology in T.C.D., today (5 February) announced the issue of ” A Guideline for Transfusion of Red Blood Cells in Surgical Patients”. This Guideline is currently being issued by the Department of Health and Children to doctors throughout the health services.

The Guideline was prepared by the National Blood Users Group, which is chaired by Professor Bonnar. The National Blood Users Group is a multi-disciplinary group which was established by the Minister to support the development of best transfusion practice in hospitals.

“I would like to congratulate Professor Bonnar, and the members of the National Blood Users Group on the preparation of the Guideline”, said the Minister. “The core recommendation, that proven strategies which reduce exposure to blood transfusions should be made widely available and applied where appropriate, is timely, particularly in the light of the concerns about the possible risk to patients of infection with variant CJD”.

“Use of red blood cell transfusion in surgical patients must be based on a clear expectation of benefit, based on the best available evidence,” Professor Bonnar said. He also said that strategies to reduce patient exposure would include surgical, anaesthetic and pharmacological approaches to reduce blood loss.

The Minister emphasised that blood transfusion remains an essential element of treatment for many patients. “However, the objective must be to avoid unnecessary blood transfusions.”

“The Red Cell Guideline is the first in a series of evidence-based guidelines being prepared by the Group to cover the main aspects of transfusion practice in Irish hospitals”, said Professor Bonnar. “Guidelines on Neonatal and Paediatric Transfusion, Use of Platelets and Plasma, Administration of Blood Products and Provision of Information to Patients, Use of Blood Products in the Management of Massive Haemorrhage are among those that the Group expects to issue during 2001.”