Haemovigilance programme

What is haemovigilance?

Haemovigilance can be defined in a number of ways however NZBS has chosen to adopt the Council of Europe definition which states that haemovigilance is:

"The organised surveillance procedures related to serious or unexpected events or reactions in donors or recipients and the epidemiological follow up of donors"

The provision of safe transfusion therapy is a basic requirement of advanced medical care. Despite major advances in viral and bacterial detection and the subsequent reduction in risk of transfusion transmitted infections there are still other significant risks associated with transfusion.

What is the haemovigilance programme?


The NZBS haemovigilance programme involves the receipt and analysis of reports of  transfusion-related adverse events. The data gathered from the programme enables NZBS to:

  • provide the clinical community with a reliable source of information about untoward effects of transfusion
  • recommend corrective measures for preventing the recurrence of particular events or dysfunction in the transfusion process
  • warn hospitals and blood services about adverse events that could involve more individuals than a single recipient e.g. transmission of infectious diseases, problems with blood bags, solutions or blood processing etc. 

The first point of contact with the programme will normally be through submission of a report regarding an adverse event occurring during the transfusion process. This report will generally be submitted by your Transfusion Safety Officer (TSO) who in most cases is the Blood Bank Charge Scientist or Transfusion Nurse Specialist (TNS). The Blood Bank in each DHB will be able to inform you who undertakes the role.

NZBS is an active member of the International Haemovigilance Network (IHN). This organisation aims to standardise haemovigilance activities to support benchmarking of data. NZBS utilise the internationally agreed definitions when evaluating and classifying adverse events.

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