WITH the increased awareness of transfusion-associated human immunodeficiency virus infection, blood transfusion therapy has become an issue of increasing concern to both the general public and to health practitioners. Several measures have already been instituted to reduce the risk of transfusion-related infections: (1) improved screening procedures, (2) early detection of infectious donors by serological methods, (3) institution of confidential donor self-deferral, and (4) inactivation of viruses in some blood products with solvents and detergents.
Although these measures have improved the quality of the blood supply, several important issues, such as other medical complications of blood transfusions, the conservation of limited resources, and cost, remain. Consequently, hospital transfusion committees have been widely used as one mechanism of monitoring blood use by peer review. The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, in Chicago, Ill, has emphasized that the intent of blood use review is, in addition to monitoring transfusion activity, to also