Transfusion medicine

Transfusion medicine (or transfusiology) is the branch of medicine that is concerned with transfusion of blood and blood components. It encompasses issues of blood donation, immunohematology and other laboratory testing, transfusion practices, patient blood management, therapeutic apheresis, stem cell collections, cellular therapy, and coagulation. Laboratory management and understanding of state and federal regulations related to blood products are also a large part of the field.

Transfusion Medicine is usually a branch of clinical pathology.

The blood donor center is the facility that collects and processes blood products. The blood bank is the section of the clinical laboratory where clinical laboratory scientists process and distribute blood products. Both areas are typically overseen by either a general pathologist or a specialist in Transfusion Medicine.


In 1628, English physician William Harvey discovered that blood circulates around the body. Soon thereafter, the first blood transfusion was attempted. In 1665 another English doctor Richard Lower successfully used blood transfusion between dogs to keep them alive.[1]

Karl Landsteiner is recognized as the father of transfusion medicine. Karl Landsteiner is credited with the first classification of human blood into the four types (A, B, AB, O) of the ABO blood group system.

National differences and how to specialise


In Denmark, the subject is covered by the speciality "Clinical Immunology".


In Germany, transfusion medicine is an independent specialty. Physicians absolve a 3-year residency in transfusion medicine and 2 years in relevant clinical settings like internal medicine or surgery.


In Norway, the subject is covered by the speciality "Immunology and Transfusion medicine"


Physicians from a wide range of backgrounds, including pathology, internal medicine, anesthesiology and pediatrics, are eligible for board certification in Transfusion Medicine following a 1–2 year fellowship. It is a board-certified subspecialty recognized by the American Board of Pathology. These specialists are often considered consultants for physicians who require expert advice on the subjects listed above. Transfusiology is not a recognized term in the US.


In the UK, transfusion medicine is a sub-speciality of hematology.

Serious Hazards of Transfusion (SHOT) undertakes research into the effects of transfusion errors and aims to improve patient safety.[2] Its reports have led to wider training for medical staff in the UK and a central reporting scheme to allow errors to be reported.[3]

There is the Better Blood Continuing Education Programme, which is organised by the EUB which is part of the SNBTS. The EUB consists of many specialist healthcare professionals. The programme's aim is to improve transfusion medicine practise. The programme is reviewed each annually in January.[4]

In the UK there is a constant worry that a blood transfusion can lead to the transmission of Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease.

See also

Notes and references

  1. "Highlights of Transfusion Medicine History". Retrieved 2009-01-01.
  2. "Serious Hazards of Transfusion – Aims, Scope and Terms of Reference". Archived from the original on 2010-02-01. Retrieved 2008-12-30.
  3. Fiona Regan & Clare Taylor. "Clinical review Recent developments Blood transfusion medicine". Retrieved 2008-12-30.
  4. "Better Blood Transfusion continuing education programme". SNBTS. Archived from the original on 2009-01-26. Retrieved 2009-01-01.

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