Aims. The aim of this study was to document nurses’ practice of red blood cells transfusion.
Background. In the United Arab Emirates hospitals, nurses are responsible for the administration of blood transfusions. The safety and effectiveness of the transfusion process is dependent, among others, on the knowledge and skills of nurses who perform the procedure. Poor practice may result in avoidable complications that may threaten patients’ safety. Published work indicated that nurses’ practice varied across contexts and highlighted that patients received suboptimal care and incorrect transfusion that culminated in death or morbidity. In the United Arab Emirates, publications related to nurses’ practice of blood transfusion are lacking.
Methods. Data were collected by means of non-participant structured observation. Data collection was undertaken in two general public hospitals in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. A random sample of 50 nurses from both hospitals was selected. Each nurse was observed once, from 10 minutes prior to blood collection until 15 minutes after initiating a transfusion.
Results. Forty-nine nurses (98%) were observed. The maximum obtained score was 13 points of a possible score of 21, and 75% of nurses scored below the 50% level. Practice deficiencies included improper patient identification, suboptimal vital signs documentation and invalid methods of blood warming.
Conclusions. Patients in both hospitals were at risk of receiving incorrect blood, suffering unobserved transfusion reaction and acquiring bacterial infection.
Relevance to clinical practice. This study revealed inadequate practices that nurses and hospitals should strive to change to provide a safer and more effective care that would, hopefully, minimise the risks and maximise the benefits of blood transfusion. These findings also have implications for clinical supervision and nurse education.