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The page below is a sample from the LabCE course Transfusion Reactions. Access the complete course and earn ASCLS P.A.C.E.-approved continuing education credits by subscribing online.

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Clinical Signs and Symptoms

Although there is no consistent clinical picture of an acute hemolytic transfusion reaction (AHTR), common symptoms include chills, hypotension, and fever. Some patients have experienced pain at the infusion site, flank pain, and anxiety with a feeling of doom. Red or dark urine may be the first sign of intravascular hemolysis. If patients are unconscious or in surgery, changes in vital signs, unexplained bleeding, or hemoglobinuria may be the only signs.
Additional signs and symptoms include, but are not limited to: rigors, facial flushing, chest and abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, dyspnea, oliguria/anuria, diffuse bleeding, shock, and renal failure. The severity of symptoms is related to the amount of incompatible blood transfused. Patients with underlying diseases that involve intravascular hemolysis can make diagnosis extremely difficult.