4.4: Patient consent
The Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs (SaBTO) recommends that ‘valid consent’ for blood transfusion should be obtained and documented in the clinical record (signed consent for transfusion is not mandatory, but may be a local requirement). This is underpinned by the following recommendations:
- Use of standardised sources of information for all patients in the UK – appropriate information leaflets are available from the UK Transfusion Services and should be used in all hospitals.
- Use of a standardised information resource for clinicians, indicating the key areas
to be discussed when obtaining consent – an example is available from http://www.transfusionguidelines.org.uk/index.asp?Publication=BBT&Section=22&pageid=7691.
- As with any emergency treatment, the need for consent must not prevent or delay essential urgent transfusion, but the presence of a valid Advance Decision Document declining transfusion should always be respected (see Chapter 12). Patients transfused when it is not possible to obtain prior consent should be provided with information retrospectively. This is important, as transfused patients are no longer eligible to act as blood donors. For the same reason, patients who have given consent for possible transfusion during surgery should be informed if they actually received blood while under anaesthesia.
- Patients needing long-term transfusion support should have a modified form of consent (e.g. annual review and re-consent) and this should be specified in local policies.