March 20, 1981

Fatalities From Blood Transfusion

Author Affiliations

Palomar Memorial Hospital Escondido, Calif Pomerado Hospital Poway, Calif

JAMA. 1981;245(11):1120. doi:10.1001/jama.1981.03310360012008

To the Editor.—  The report by Byron A. Myhre, MD, PhD (1980;244:1333), entitled "Fatalities From Blood Transfusion" contains information essential for the design of a safe transfusion service. These data concerning transfusion-related fatalities have been collected by the Food and Drug Administration since December 1975. Unfortunately, the government has done little more than collect this information. It took the initiative and creativity of the blood banking community to obtain, interpret, and make useful the collected information. This was first published by Paul J. Schmidt, MD.1The information was not made readily available to Dr Schmidt, and a Freedom of Information Act request was required to obtain access to the reports. Both Schmidt and Myhre concluded that more than one half of the fatal reactions could be prevented, and they stress that the most common causes of fatal transfusion reactions involve clerical identity errors resulting in transfusion of blood to