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Haemovigilance and adverse reactions

Haemovigilance is required to identify and prevent occurrence or recurrence of transfusion related unwanted events. This increases the safety, efficacy and efficiency of blood transfusion. Haemovigilance covers all activities of the transfusion chain; from donor to recipient.


Haemovigilance should include healthcare professionals:

  • monitoring
  • identification of
  • reporting of
  • investigation and analysis,

of adverse events, near-misses and reactions related to, both the manufacturing and transfusion of any blood component.

The Serious Hazards of Transfusion (SHOT) scheme is a UK-wide, independent, haemovigilance system focused on learning from adverse events. SHOT was established in 1996 as a confidential reporting system for significant transfusion-related events.

SHOT builds an evidence base to support:

  • blood safety policy decisions
  • clinical guidelines
  • clinician education
  • improvements in transfusion practice

A serious adverse reaction (SAR) - an unintended reaction in a donor or in a patient that is associated with the collection, or transfusion of blood or blood components. The reaction is fatal, life-threatening, disabling or incapacitating, or which results in or prolongs hospitalisation, or morbidity.

A serious adverse event (SAE) - any unexpected occurrence associated with the collection, testing, processing, storage and distribution of blood or blood components. The occurrence may be life-threatening, disabling or incapacitating for patients or it results in, or prolongs, hospitalisation or morbidity.

Investigation of suspected transfusion reaction

If a suspected transfusion reaction is apparent, stop the transfusion immediately and refer to the Transfusion Guidelines (Pathology Homepage via BHFNT intranet or TAD Website) and the Transfusion Nursing Procedure (or via SharePoint: BHNFT Homepage –> Departments –> CBU3 –> Blood Products –>Shared Documents –> Blood Transfusion nursing procedure).