Official reprint from UpToDate®
www.uptodate.com ©2017 UpToDate, Inc. and/or its affiliates. All Rights Reserved.

General principles of home blood transfusion

Joy L Fridey, MD
Section Editor
Arthur J Silvergleid, MD
Deputy Editor
Jennifer S Tirnauer, MD


Traditionally, blood transfusions have been administered either in hospitals or outpatient clinics. To increase the accessibility and convenience of care to chronically ill patients and potentially decrease associated costs, many therapies, including transfusions, are occasionally provided in patients' homes or physicians' offices. The indications for home blood transfusion are similar to those in other health care settings. (See "Red blood cell transfusion in adults: Storage, specialized modifications, and infusion parameters".)

There is at least one major factor that distinguishes the administration of blood in a home setting from transfusion in a hospital: the decreased availability of emergency medical care for managing serious complications. This inherent difference compounds the usual and sometimes serious risks of transfusion. Thus, patient safety is a higher priority than increased convenience and any cost savings that may be realized in home-based therapies.

Important aspects of home transfusion will be reviewed here, with a focus on recipient safety. Several key references that should be consulted prior to setting up a home transfusion program will be mentioned.

Standardized procedures for maximizing the safety of home blood transfusion are presented separately. (See "The path to safer home transfusion: Standard operating procedures".)


Activities related to the collection, processing, issuing, and transfusion of blood and blood components are regulated by government agencies such as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or individual states. Standards applicable to these processes have been promulgated by organizations such as the AABB (formerly the American Association of Blood Banks), College of American Pathologists (CAP), and The Joint Commission. Physicians wishing to order home transfusions should be familiar with applicable standards and regulations. Presumably, a blood center or hospital transfusion service would not issue blood to a health care provider or agency that does not have transfusion procedures meeting regulations and industry standards.

To continue reading this article, you must log in with your personal, hospital, or group practice subscription. For more information on subscription options, click below on the option that best describes you:

Subscribers log in here

Literature review current through: Nov 2017. | This topic last updated: Aug 18, 2017.
The content on the UpToDate website is not intended nor recommended as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your own physician or other qualified health care professional regarding any medical questions or conditions. The use of this website is governed by the UpToDate Terms of Use ©2017 UpToDate, Inc.
  1. Technical Manual, 18th ed, Fung MK, Grossman BJ, Hillyer CD, et al (Eds), AABB, Bethesda, MD 2014.
  2. Circular of information for the use of human blood and blood components. AABB, the American Red Cross, America's Blood Centers, Armed Services Blood Program, 2013.
  3. A Compendium of Transfusion Practice Guidelines, 3rd ed, Fridey JL, Marcus L (Eds), American Red Cross, 2017.
  4. Anderson K, Benson K, Glassman A, et al. Guidelines for Home Transfusion, American Association of Blood Banks, Bethesda, MD 1997.
  5. Standards for Blood Banks and Transfusion Services, 30th ed, AABB, Bethesda, MD 2015.
  6. Food and Drug Administration. Code of Federal Regulations (21), Parts 600-799 and 200-299. US Government Printing Office, Washington, DC. www.ecfr.gov (Accessed on July 23, 2015).
  7. Benson K. Home is where the heart is: do blood transfusions belong there too? Transfus Med Rev 2006; 20:218.
  8. Fridey JL. Practical aspects of out-of-hospital transfusion. Am J Clin Pathol 1997; 107:S64.
  9. Out-of-hospital Transfusion Therapy, Fridey JL, Kasprisin CA, Issitt LA (Eds), American Association of Blood Banks, Bethesda, MD 1994.
  10. Benson K. Blood Transfusions in the Home Sweet Home: How to Avoid a Sour Outcome. Cancer Control 1997; 4:364.
  11. Benson K, Popovsky MA, Hines D, et al. Nationwide survey of home transfusion practices. Transfusion 1998; 38:90.
  12. Nova Scotia Provincial Blood Coordinating Program. Guidelines for Home Transfusion, Halifax, Nova Scotia 2014.
  13. Niscola P, Tendas A, Giovannini M, et al. Transfusions at home in patients with myelodysplastic syndromes. Leuk Res 2012; 36:684.
  14. Ritchie EK. Blood simple: transfusion at home for patients with MDS. Leuk Res 2012; 36:675.
  15. Brook L, Vickers J, Pizer B. Home platelet transfusion in pediatric oncology terminal care. Med Pediatr Oncol 2003; 40:249.
  16. Menis M, Izurieta HS, Anderson SA, et al. Outpatient transfusions and occurrence of serious noninfectious transfusion-related complications among US elderly, 2007-2008: utility of large administrative databases in blood safety research. Transfusion 2012; 52:1968.
  17. Muylle L, Peetermans ME. Effect of prestorage leukocyte removal on the cytokine levels in stored platelet concentrates. Vox Sang 1994; 66:14.
  18. Heddle NM, Klama L, Singer J, et al. The role of the plasma from platelet concentrates in transfusion reactions. N Engl J Med 1994; 331:625.
  19. Thompson HW, McKelvey J. Home blood transfusion therapy: a home health agency's 5-year experience. Transfusion 1995; 35:453.
  20. Crocker KS, Coker MH. Initiation of a home hemotherapy program using a primary nursing model. J Intraven Nurs 1990; 13:13.
  21. Pluth NM. A home care transfusion program. Oncol Nurs Forum 1987; 14:43.
  22. Miller PC. Home blood component therapy--an alternative. NITA 1986; 9:213.
  23. Isaia G, Tibaldi V, Astengo M, et al. Home management of hematological patients requiring hospital admission. Arch Gerontol Geriatr 2010; 51:309.
  24. Tobian AA, Fuller AK, Uglik K, et al. The impact of platelet additive solution apheresis platelets on allergic transfusion reactions and corrected count increment (CME). Transfusion 2014; 54:1523.
  25. Cohn CS, Stubbs J, Schwartz J, et al. A comparison of adverse reaction rates for PAS C versus plasma platelet units. Transfusion 2014; 54:1927.
  26. Blood Banking and Transfusion Medicine, 2nd ed, Hillyer CD, Silberstein LE, Ness PM, Anderson KC (Eds), Churchill Livingstone, Philadelphia 2007.
  27. Barrett BB, Andersen JW, Anderson KC. Strategies for the avoidance of bacterial contamination of blood components. Transfusion 1993; 33:228.
  28. Fang CT, Chambers LA, Kennedy J, et al. Detection of bacterial contamination in apheresis platelet products: American Red Cross experience, 2004. Transfusion 2005; 45:1845.
  29. Pearce S, Rowe GP, Field SP. Screening of platelets for bacterial contamination at the Welsh Blood Service. Transfus Med 2011; 21:25.
  30. Dumont LJ, Kleinman S, Murphy JR, et al. Screening of single-donor apheresis platelets for bacterial contamination: the PASSPORT study results. Transfusion 2010; 50:589.
  31. Eder AF. Appendix II. In: A Compendium of Transfusion Practice Guidelines, 3rd ed, Fridey JL, Marcus E (Eds), American Red Cross, 2017.
  32. Bux J. Transfusion-related acute lung injury (TRALI): a serious adverse event of blood transfusion. Vox Sang 2005; 89:1.
  33. Silliman CC, Ambruso DR, Boshkov LK. Transfusion-related acute lung injury. Blood 2005; 105:2266.
  34. Sanchez R, Toy P. Transfusion related acute lung injury: a pediatric perspective. Pediatr Blood Cancer 2005; 45:248.
  35. Bux J, Sachs UJ. The pathogenesis of transfusion-related acute lung injury (TRALI). Br J Haematol 2007; 136:788.
  36. Muniz M, Sheldon S, Schuller RM, et al. Patient-specific transfusion-related acute lung injury. Vox Sang 2008; 94:70.
  37. Eder AF, Herron R, Strupp A, et al. Transfusion-related acute lung injury surveillance (2003-2005) and the potential impact of the selective use of plasma from male donors in the American Red Cross. Transfusion 2007; 47:599.
  38. Chapman CE, Stainsby D, Jones H, et al. Ten years of hemovigilance reports of transfusion-related acute lung injury in the United Kingdom and the impact of preferential use of male donor plasma. Transfusion 2009; 49:440.
  39. Eder AF, Dy BA, O'Neill EM. Predicted effect of selectively testing female donors for HLA antibodies to mitigate transfusion-related acute lung injury risk from apheresis platelets. Transfusion 2016; 56:1608.