JPAC Joint United Kingdom (UK) Blood Transfusion and Tissue Transplantation Services Professional Advisory Committee

Consent for Blood Transfusion - Guidance for Healthcare Practitioners in the UK

A patient should give valid consent before receiving a transfusion of blood components. Obtaining consent for any procedure involves discussing the benefits, risks and any available alternatives. The SaBTO 2020 updated guidance on patient consent for blood transfusion stipulates what information must be given to a patient who may be exposed to blood transfusion to help them make an informed decision on having transfusion of a blood component.

Healthcare practitioners obtaining consent for transfusion must be appropriately trained to do so.

Key requirements in consent for transfusion

  • Ensure shared decision-making discussion with the patient (or parent/guardian/advocate if applicable) takes place wherever possible, and that this is documented in the patient’s clinical record. Patients who have been given a blood transfusion and were not able to give informed and valid consent prior to the transfusion must be informed of the transfusion prior to discharge.

  • Patients who receive a transfusion should have the details (including any related adverse events) clearly documented in their hospital discharge summary, ensuring both the patient and their family doctor/GP are aware.

  • Transfusion should be considered when there is no appropriate alternative, and the benefit for the transfusion outweighs the risks. Many patients can safely tolerate not having a transfusion.

Informed consent discussion  [ This is a generic list covering the SaBTO guidance recommendations – you need to tailor your discussion to cover what is important to your individual patient ]


Red cells:   Relieve symptoms of anaemia; Prevent complications of anaemia (tissue ischaemia, organ damage); 

                   Earlier mobilisation/quicker recovery after illness or surgery

Platelets/plasma:   Stop or prevent bleeding

  RISKS and actual or potential consequences
  ALTERNATIVES as relevant/appropriate to the clinical situation

Red cells:   Iron therapy (oral/IV); Other haematinic replacement (B12, folate); Erythropoietin; Cell salvage (surgery)

Plasma:      Factor concentrates if applicable

Platelets:    Tranexamic acid

Give the patient written information, with sufficient time to read and consider and an opportunity to ask questions (if written information is not available then provide verbal information). There may be particular considerations to take into account for specific patient groups, such as paediatrics, multi-transfused, etc.
Document your discussion and the outcome in the patient’s care records. If the patient is refusing the proposed treatment (transfusion), try to explore why this is; contact a transfusion expert if required. Make sure the patient understands the possible consequences of not having a transfusion, and ensure any Advanced Directive is applicable and valid.
Click here for printable PDF version of this checklist

For more detailed information about the risks of transfusion which may not necessarily need to be part of your consent discussion, see Handbook of Transfusion Medicine: Adverse effects of transfusion.

Before going on to authorise blood components, check whether the patient has any specific transfusion requirements.

All staff involved in consent for transfusion have a duty to give honest and accurate information and answer patient's concerns in full. 

For further information and guidance on consent for transfusion contact your local transfusion team, or see NHS Blood Assist