Transfusion medicine

Transfusion medicine (or transfusiology) is the branch of medicine that is concerned with transfusion of blood and blood components. It encompasses issues of blood donation, immunohematology and other laboratory testing, transfusion practices, therapeutic apheresis, stem cell collections, cellular therapy, and coagulation. Laboratory management and understanding of state and federal regulations related to blood products are also a large part of the field.

Transfusion Medicine is a branch of clinical pathology. Physicians from a wide range of backgrounds, including pathology, internal medicine, anesthesiology and pediatrics, are eligible for board certification in Transfusion Medicine following a 1–2 year fellowship. It is a board-certified subspecialty recognized by the American Board of Pathology. These specialists are often considered consultants for physicians who require expert advice on the subjects listed above.

The blood donor center is the facility that collects and processes blood products. The blood bank is the section of the clinical laboratory where clinical laboratory scientists process and distribute blood products. Both areas are typically overseen by either a general pathologist or a specialist in Transfusion Medicine.


In 1628, English physician William Harvey discovered that blood circulates around the body. Soon thereafter, the first blood transfusion was attempted. In 1665 another English doctor Richard Lower successfully used blood transfusion between dogs to keep them alive.[1]

Karl Landsteiner is recognized as the father of transfusion medicine. Jan Janský is credited with the first classification of human blood into the four types (A, B, AB, O) of the ABO blood group system.

National differences and how to specialise


In Denmark, the subject is covered by the speciality "Clinical Immunology".


In Norway, the subject is covered by the speciality "Immunology and Transfusion medicine"


Transfusiology is not a recognized term in the US.


In the UK, transfusion medicine is a sub-speciality of haematology.

Serious Hazards of Transfusion (SHOT) undertakes research into the effects of transfusion errors and aims to improve patient safety.[2] Its reports have led to wider training for medical staff in the UK and a central reporting scheme to allow errors to be reported.[3]

There is the Better Blood Continuing Education Programme, which is organised by the EUB which is part of the SNBTS. The EUB consists of many specialist healthcare professionals. The programme's aim is to improve transfusion medicine practise. The programme is reviewed each annually in January.[4]

In the UK there is a constant worry that a blood transfusion can lead to the transmission of Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease.

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Notes and references

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