Measuring the influence of blood component infusion rate on recipient vital signs

E. A. Gehrie, J. E. Hendrickson, Christopher A. Tormey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background and Objectives: One of the challenges surrounding blood component administration is the determination of an appropriate rate of infusion. There are very few evidence-based guidelines available to guide healthcare providers looking for a 'standard' infusion rate for red blood cells (RBCs), plasma or platelets (PLTs). Our objective was to determine the extent to which blood component infusion rates were associated with changes in transfusion recipient vital signs. Materials and Methods: We retrospectively examined records of 3496 component infusions (RBCs, n = 2359; PLTs, n = 478; plasma, n = 659) over a 1-year period at a 362-bed multispecialty hospital. The following data were collected for each transfusion: blood product volume and infusion time, recipient pre- and post-transfusion temperature, blood pressure and pulse rate, and hospital ward where transfusion occurred. Results: Plasma (median 10·4 ml/min) was infused faster than PLTs (median 7·2 ml/min, P < 0·0001) or RBCs (median 2·3 ml/min, P < 0·0001). For all blood components, infusion rates varied based on the hospital unit performing the infusion. No association was found between relatively fast RBC, plasma or PLT infusion rates (>20 ml/min) and clinically significant reported changes in vital signs. Conclusions: There does not appear to be a strong correlation between infusion rate and significant changes in recipient temperature, blood pressure or pulse rate. Based on these data, a reasonable rate for routine transfusion is 2-3 ml/min for RBCs and 7-10 ml/min for plasma and PLTs. Faster infusion rates (>20 ml/min) likely can be applied with close patient monitoring if there is a more urgent need for transfusion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)353-358
Number of pages6
JournalVox sanguinis
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Blood components
  • Blood safety
  • Fresh frozen plasma
  • Patient blood management
  • Transfusion reactions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology


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