“This patient is having a transfusion reaction!!” OK, take it easy! Dr. Mark Fung is here to give us a rational way to approach these panic-inducing events.


Dr. Mark Fung

Dr. Mark Fung

Dr. Mark Fung from The University of Vermont and editor-in-chief of the AABB Technical Manual joins Dr. Chaffin to discuss transfusion reactions. It’s easy to push the panic button when a suspected transfusion reaction occurs, but Mark takes us through a way to look at these events systematically. He shares his modified categorization by dominant sign/symptom template developed from an original idea by Nancy Heddle (you can see it in the images below and download it at the bottom of the page!).

Why It Matters

It is essential that anyone working in or overseeing a transfusion service understands how to approach suspected transfusion reactions, because they can seem scary. In fact, the current version of AABB Standards includes a statement that the definitions of those reactions should be standardized within a given facility, in part to make things easier to manage. Dr. Fung has been deeply involved in those discussions in his work with AABB, and his approach is very useful and practical.

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DISCLAIMER: The opinions expressed on this episode are those of Dr. Fung and I alone, and do not reflect those of the organizations with which either of us is affiliated. Neither Mark nor I have any relevant financial disclosures.

The images below are generously provided by Dr. Fung (with express permission from Nancy Heddle for the modified template).

Fung slide 1-Signs/symptoms for different reactions
Fung slide 2-Tests to consider given different signs/symptoms
Fung slide 3 - Case #1 Description
Fung slide 4 - DDx for dominant symptom (skin findings)
Fung slide 5 - Case #2 description
Fung slide 6 - DDx for dominant symptom (pain)
Fung slide 7 - Case #3 description
Fung slide 8 - DDx for dominant symptom (respiratory)
Fung slide 9 - Case #4 description
Fung slide 10 - Case #4 further info

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