American Association of Blood Banks

View all recommendations from this society

Released April 24, 2014; Updated January 28, 2022

Don’t transfuse more units of red blood cells or other components than absolutely necessary.

  • For red blood cells, a restrictive threshold (7.0-8.0g/dL) should be used for the vast majority of hospitalized, stable patients without evidence of inadequate tissue oxygenation (evidence supports a threshold of 8.0g/dL in patients with pre-existing cardiovascular disease). Transfusion decisions should be influenced by symptoms and hemoglobin concentration. Single unit red cell transfusions should be the standard for non-bleeding, hospitalized patients. Additional units should only be prescribed after re-assessment of the patient and their hemoglobin value.
  • For plasma, do not transfuse plasma to correct coagulopathy in non-bleeding patients or patients.
  • Do not transfuse platelets without laboratory guidance outside of fixed-ratio massive transfusions.

These items are provided solely for informational purposes and are not intended as a substitute for consultation with a medical professional. Patients with any specific questions about the items on this list or their individual situation should consult their physician.

How The List Was Created

Recommendations were drafted by a work group led by AABB Director Jeannie Callum, MD. Ten draft statements were edited by the AABB Clinical Transfusion Medicine Committee, chaired by Aaron Tobian, MD. In order to identify the top five statements, a random sampling of AABB physician members working in the field of transfusion medicine in hospitals, as well as all members of AABB’s Clinical Transfusion Medicine Committee, were asked to rate the 10 draft statements. On a Likert scale, participants were asked to “indicate the importance of including each of the following transfusion-related statements in the Choosing Wisely campaign promoting the appropriate use of health care resources.” The final top five statements were approved by the AABB Board of Directors.

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Carson JL, Grossman BJ, Kleinman S, Tinmouth AT, Marques MB, Fung MK, Holcomb JB, Illoh O, Kaplan LJ, Katz LM, Rao SV, Roback JD, Shander A, Tobian AA, Weinstein R, Swinton McLaughlin LG, Djulbegovic B; Clinical Transfusion Medicine Committee of the AABB. Red blood cell transfusion: a clinical practice guideline from the AABB. Ann Intern Med. 2012 Jul 3;157(1):49–58.