WCBS Patient Information Leaflet, an Adjunct to Informed Consent

WCBS is introducing its first leaflet titled “All I need to know about a blood transfusion” that is intended to inform patients about transfusion benefits, risks, alternatives and costs involved. This leaflet does not replace the mandatory doctor-patient discussion about informed consent, but it provides useful information to assist the patient in their decision-making.

As stipulated in the South African National Health Act (2003), the clinician is responsible for prescribing blood products appropriately and communicating the risks, benefits and alternatives to transfusions to their patient.

The Clinical Guidelines for the Use of Blood Products in South Africa, Fifth Edition (2014), Chapter 1, titled Legal Aspects of a Blood Transfusion, page 2 states the following:

Informed Consent

As with any medical treatment, patients have a right to decide whether or not they want the treatment. As far as possible the patient should understand the treatment and agree that the benefits, risks and alternatives to transfusion have been explained and that they consent to the treatment. It is a process which must be acknowledged and documented.

The attending doctor must, in each case, consider alternatives to conventional transfusion therapy (and consider the risks of alternative therapy), and is responsible for discussing alternatives to allogeneic blood transfusion (such as autologous or directed donation) with the patient. The patient must be informed of the material risks inherent in blood transfusion and of alternatives to it. Failure to do this could amount to a failure to procure informed consent, resulting in legal liability for the doctor should the patient suffer adverse effects from the transfused blood component.

Patient information leaflet PDF (English)

Patient information leaflet PDF (Afrikaans)

A limited supply of hardcopies of the leaflet will be available from May onwards.

For more information and to request hardcopies, contact Hayley Alie, Hospital Liaison Officer (hayleya@wcbs.org.za)


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