The safety of the blood supply ― time to raise the bar.

Snyder EL, Stramer SL, Benjamin RJ
N Engl J Med 2015;372:1882-1885.
NATA Rating :
Review by : R. Moog
NATA Review

The authors describe the aspects of the safety of blood components focusing on pathogen reduction technologies (PRT). Due to the availability of approved PRT for only plasma and platelet products, there are different safety levels for blood components today. The need for PRT is pointed out by threats on the blood supply such as Ebola, dengue, chikungunya, hepatitis E, pandemic influenza, and SARS viruses. Furthermore, the potential of PRT to eliminate bacterial contamination of platelet concentrates is described.

The authors speculate that certain screening tests could be eliminated after implementing PRT. This is not in line with current recommendations of national authorities on the safety of blood components. The reimbursement process of proactive PRT needs clarification before it is time to ‘raise the bar’. Hopefully, the development of efficient PRT for RBCs will close the gap of different safety profiles of blood components in the near future.

– Rainer Moog