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Transfusion. 2004 Jul;44(7):967-72.

Rapid evaluation of risk of white particulate matter in blood components by a statewide survey of transfusion reactions.

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Epidemic Intelligence Service, Division of Applied Public Health Training, Epidemiology Program Office, Atlanta, GA, USA.

Erratum in

  • Transfusion. 2004 Oct;44(10):1541.



In January 2003, white particulate matter (WPM) was detected in blood components. Because the composition and cause of WPM was not understood at that time, there was uncertainty about whether WPM could endanger patient safety. To investigate possible adverse patient events associated with WPM, transfusion reaction rates were examined.


A questionnaire was distributed to Georgia medical centers. Data collected included the number of components transfused and reported adverse reactions by component type from January 2002 through January 2003, and date, reaction type, and blood supplier for events in January 2003.


Of 124 transfusion services contacted, 108 (87%) responded. During the survey period, there were 1213 reported transfusion reactions and 528,412 units transfused, or 2.3 reactions per 1000 units transfused; for RBCs, 2.4 (range, 1.8-3.1); plasma, 1.5 (range, 0.6-3.5); and PLTs, 3.4 (2.1-5.4) per 1000 units. Transfusion reaction rates by component for January 2003 did not differ significantly from the rate for January 2002 or for the calendar year. The 86 reported reactions that occurred in January 2003 were attributed to bacterial contamination (n = 2, 2.3%), other febrile nonhemolytic (n = 49, 57.0%), allergic (n = 14, 16.3%), and "other" reactions (n = 21, 24.4%); the proportions of reaction types did not differ significantly during the month.


No overall changes in reported adverse reaction rates occurred over the survey period or in the proportion of reaction types during January 2003 when WPM was detected. Statewide surveillance of transfusion reactions could be useful to evaluate potential threats to blood safety.

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