Avoiding blood transfusion in surgical patients (including Jehovah's Witnesses)

Avoiding blood transfusion in surgical patients (including Jehovah's Witnesses)

Gohel MS
Ann R Coll Surg Engl.
January 01,2011
St Mary's Hospital
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Few of us would override a legally competent patient’s right to refuse treatment. However, when the treatment could potentially save the individual’s life we feel uncomfortable with that refusal. We adopt a protective attitude and attempt to reason with our patients. We explain the likely medical consequences of declining the treatment. After all, it is our professional duty to try to make people better and to save their lives. Blood is one such treatment.

Patients refuse blood for many reasons. Some are worried about the risk of infection and disease that may be transmitted as a result. Others are concerned about being given the wrong type or suffering an allergic reaction. Occasionally patients refuse blood for religious reasons and as professionals, we worry about its decreasing availability and increasing costs.

In this article, Whyman et al revisit and update us on the principles of bloodless surgery and some of the issues raised when managing Jehovah’s Witness patients.

There are 34 Jehovah’s Witness hospital liaison committees in the UK. They are a free resource. I would encourage you to contact them at any time at their central office on 020 8906 2211 or his@uk.jw.org if you have any queries about managing Jehovah’s Witness patients.


Associate Editor