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Journal of Blood Transfusion
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 407326, 6 pages
Review Article

Using Basic Ethical Principles to Evaluate Safety Efforts in Transfusion Medicine

Department of Pathology, Immunology and Laboratory Medicine, College of Medicine, University of Florida, P.O. Box 100275, Gainesville, FL 32610-0275, USA

Received 10 October 2011; Accepted 22 November 2011

Academic Editor: Peter J. M. van den Burg

Copyright © 2012 Jay P. Brooks. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Pursuit of pharmaceutical purity of the blood in the bag has led to a shrinking donor base and a significantly more expensive product. Decisions regarding new infectious marker testing and donor deferrals have typically been made emphasizing decreasing one specific risk without considering the effect the intervention will have on the overall safety and availability of blood transfusion. Regulations have been formulated by governmental agencies with limited input from the medical community. The decision making process has lacked risk benefit analyses and has not had the robustness associated with spirited discussions. Policies made in this manner may result in certain risks being decreased but can also have adverse unintended consequences. Being guided by the ethical principles of nonmaleficence, beneficence, autonomy, and justice, we need to evaluate our actions in the context of overall blood safety rather than narrowly focusing on any one area.