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Pharmacotherapy. 2007 Sep;27(9 Pt 2):57S-68S.

Update on transfusion medicine.

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  • 1Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care and Hyperbaric Medicine and the New Jersey Institute for the Advancement of Bloodless Medicine and Surgery, Englewood Hospital and Medical Center, Englewood, New Jersey 07631, USA.


Clinical pharmacists often participate on critical care teams that manage patients with bleeding emergencies. Although blood products are usually dispensed from the blood bank and not the pharmacy, pharmacists should be conversant in the language and trends of transfusion medicine, much like they are with other therapeutic agents. Toward that goal, this review provides a concise transfusion medicine tutorial, covering all commonly used blood products, including red blood cells, platelets, fresh frozen plasma, and plasma derivatives such as cryoprecipitate, prothrombin complex concentrates, and albumin. Usage patterns, the rationale for administering the various blood products, and studies that have attempted to determine appropriate criteria for ordering transfusions (transfusion triggers) are discussed. The benefits, risks, and several ongoing controversies that relate to the appropriateness and safety of blood product use are also summarized.

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