Should adding pain, oxygen saturation and physical assessment to vital signs become the new standard of care for detecting blood transfusion reactions?

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Vox sanguinis


texas; covenant


BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Clinicians sought to ascertain what frequency of vital signs best detects blood transfusion reactions. This review discusses early and delayed blood product transfusion reaction detection through the lens of scientific literature.

METHODS: A comprehensive appraisal of published literature was conducted using Integrative Research Review methodology through June 2022 not limited to English or research in Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature, Cochrane Library of Systematic Reviews, Medline and PubMed.

RESULTS: Full-text articles in the final sample included four articles discussing vital signs detecting blood transfusion reactions and four articles reporting the importance of adding physical assessments for early reaction detection. None of the studies provided evidence regarding how often vital signs should be monitored to detect transfusion reactions. No studies included identical screening components for detecting blood product transfusion reactions. Main themes emerged including variations in what was included in vital signs, importance of respiratory assessment, inclusion of physical assessment, nurse documentation and reporting compliance, and patient and family inclusion in transfusion reaction recognition.

CONCLUSION: Vital sign components varied across reviewed studies. Respiratory rate and pain were not always included in 'vital signs' to identify transfusion reactions. Only low-level data and no clinical trials loosely informing frequency of vital sign monitoring to transfusion reaction detection were found. Respiratory (to include oxygen saturation, lung sounds and respiratory rate) and pain assessment emerged as crucial to acute and delayed transfusion reaction recognition. The disconnect between 'vital signs' and the varied vital sign components reported to detect transfusion reactions in scientific literature requires further exploration.