Rationalised premedication practice for blood product transfusions: A single-centre quality initiative.

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Journal Article
Journal of paediatrics and child health, 2021
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Blood and platelets are scarce resources that are an essential part of the supportive care for paediatric cancer patients. There are many inherent risks involved with transfusions including acute transfusion reactions (ATRs). Following an initial ATR, prophylactic medications are commonly given prior to subsequent transfusions. However, there are risks with medication administration as well as negative implications for the health system. Our aim was to prevent the automatic prescribing of premedications prior to blood and platelet transfusions for ATRs. We hypothesised this would not increase the risk of harm.


Our intervention was to eliminate automatic prescribing of intravenous corticosteroids and intravenous promethazine prior to a transfusion. This was approached through a behaviour change model and the implementation of recommended prescribing guidelines. Three Plan Do Study Act (PDSA) cycles refined the guidelines to align with clinicians' needs and build support through co-design. Data gathered on individual patients receiving transfusions and reaction rates during the trial were compared to international data.


A total of 100 patients received a transfusion during the trial. Eleven patients either had a previous reaction or experienced their first reaction during this time. All patients followed the guidelines and had either no premedication or an oral antihistamine premedication. There were no breakthrough reactions using oral antihistamines. The overall reaction rate was 1.33%, which aligns with the reported data on ATRs internationally.


A restricted prescribing approach to pharmaceutical cover prior to blood and platelet transfusions can be implemented effectively in a paediatric cancer population, without an increase in the risk of harm to the patients.
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