Management of Infection-Defined Risks in Transfusion Medicine: Risk and Reality

  • R. Y. Dodd
Part of the Developments in Hematology and Immunology book series (DIHI, volume 34)


Blood transfusion is now extraordinarily safe, particularly when compared to other invasive medical procedures. This is a result of multiple, partially redundant measures, each of which has at least some rational basis. The overall impact of these processes is illustrated by the low risk of disease transmission: for example, in the United States, it is estimated that about 1 in every 700,000 blood components may transmit HIV [1] in comparison to the population prevalence of infection, which is between 1 in 500 and 1 in 250. Nevertheless, there continues to be pressure to improve many of these measures in order to further reduce residual risk. For known infections, such improvements can be designed with some degree of rationality and can be evaluated. On the other hand, there is little in the way of a systematic approach to new or emerging infections which may impact the safety of the blood supply. It would be desirable to develop data to define and prioritize such risks and to assess the efficacy of potential interventions, an approach illustrated by the response to concern about transfusion-transmitted Chagas’ disease in the US. In contrast, political pressures have led to specific measures to ameliorate the as-yet unproven risk of transmission of the agents of spongiform encephalopathies. Such approaches are not evidence based and may have the potential to cause more harm than real good.


Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type Blood Donor Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy Residual Risk Blood Safety 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. Y. Dodd
    • 1
  1. 1.Transmissible Disease ReportmentARC Jerome H. Holland LaboratoryRockvilleUSA

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