Blood transfusion safety

Blood cold chain

The blood cold chain is a system for storing and transporting blood and blood products, within the correct temperature range and conditions, from the point of collection from blood donors to the point of transfusion to the patient.

Deviations from specified temperature ranges and conditions during storage and transportation of blood and blood products can seriously affect the viability of the constituents of blood, thus leading to reduced clinical benefits. It can also increase the risk of bacterial proliferation in blood components during storage and may cause potentially life-threatening transfusion reactions, such as septic shock and even death.

A break in the blood cold chain leads to wastage and discard of unsuitable blood units, which may adversely affect the supply of blood and blood products for transfusion. An effective blood cold chain is essential for the countries to implement strategies to expand safe blood transfusion services to cover wider geographic areas and achieve universal access to safe blood transfusion for all patients who need transfusion.

The establishment of a reliable system for blood cold chain requires commitment and support of national health authorities and sustainable funding. This is best achieved in a blood transfusion service that is coordinated at different levels within the national health care system. Quality management should apply to all aspects of the blood cold chain, in blood centres, hospital blood banks and all institutions handling blood, blood products and blood samples.

Related documents

Aide-mémoire: Blood cold chain

The blood cold chain: guide to the selection and procurement of equipment and accessories

Manual on management, maintenance and use of blood cold chain equipment