Blood transfusion - Carter : LUSENET : ER Discussions : One Thread

For the medical folks out there....In a recent episode (2-3 weeks ago, I'm not sure which one it was), Carter was quickly recruited as an O negative donor when the blood bank ran out, and they didn't have time to type the patient. Is this as implausible as I found it? I can't believe any hospital would permit the use of unscreened blood, even in an emergency (even if the donor was a relative). How long does a type match take anyway? Thanks for any info!

-- Patti Rohwer (, November 27, 1999


Yes, it is about as ridiculous as you thought. A hospital would NEVER just take blood from one person, not even a parent or sibling or the Pope himself, and give it directly to a patient without screening, even if there was no blood available. If a patient was actively bleeding, they would probably try auto-transfusion with the cell-saver, and they could also use saline and other non-blood solutions through an IV, which may be not as helpful as blood but which would hopefully and possibly keep the patient alive until type and screened blood became available. Second, though there are often blood shortages, there is almost always enough blood available for emergencies when it literally makes the difference between life and death. If blood supplies get low, elective surgeries are generally canceled, docs are told not to transfuse non-critical cases, and massive blood-donation campaigns are implemented to raise the amount of blood available long before the inventory goes completely to 0. Thirdly, to say that they didn't have time to get donor blood from the blood bank but but could use an "instant" donor is silly because one, it takes almost as long for someone to donate a pint of blood as it does to call the blood bank, say "Get me 6 units of O neg up here NOW" and have it delivered and two, there's nothing to type and match - it's not the patient's blood type you are worried about in an emergency, it is the quick availability of safe (ie screened for HIV and hepatitis) type O blood that you need because anyone can receive that.

ER is usually really good in its accuracy of medical issues, but you are right, this was implausible and probably grounds for medical negligence and denial of the hospital's re-accreditation.

-- laura (, December 18, 1999.

I just read this section of the er news and I whole-heartedly agree with the fact that the writers did an injustice to the show by sticking Carter in that chair and pretending to draw a unit of a unit of blood for an immediate direct transfusion without even typing or screening Carter's blood for atypical antibodies, HIV, CMV, Hepatitis, etc. But my feeling is that by handling the blood shortage this way, the writers give the general public the feeling that if someone they love needs blood, they can just give their own blood to them and the whole process can be done and over with in about 15 minutes. Totally untrue and unrealistic. The situation of blood donation has enough problems as it is, they don't need a #1 show propagating this kind of fallacy. Now I've had a chance to say my piece.

-- jk (, January 30, 2000.

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