Q: Should blood tubing be primed with or without normal saline before administration of blood products?

A: Christine Kessler, RN, MN, CNS, ANP, BC-ADM, replies:

Many hospital transfusion protocols and related nursing practices have been based more on tradition and assumptions than on scientific evidence. The saline priming of blood transfusion tubing is one such nursing practice that has long been guided by tradition. The risks and cost related to transfusion therapy have spurred a great deal of scientific inquiry in the past 15 years.

Approximately 15 million blood and blood component transfusions occur annually within the United States, making it a common lifesaving and life-sustaining intervention, especially within intensive care, surgical, and trauma units. Various estimates indicate that between 15% and 45% of patients require transfusions during their intensive care unit (ICU) stay, depending on their length of stay.1,2  The Joint Commission mandates that hospitals have...

You do not currently have access to this content.