The transfusion services department, also known as the blood banking department, is the area where blood components are stored and matched with potential blood recipients. The term "blood bank" also refers to a donor center where people can donate blood, such as the American Red Cross. A blood bank is not always synonymous with the transfusion services department.
The transfusion services department receives serum specimens in red-top tubes and whole blood specimens in pink-top tubes.
The most common tests in the transfusion services department include blood typing, antibody screen, and crossmatch.
Blood typing determines a patient's blood type by identifying specific antigens on their red blood cells. Blood typing includes ABO and Rh typing. There are four major blood types: A, B, AB, and O. Type O is considered the universal donor since it is compatible with all blood types. Type AB is the universal recipient; a Type AB patient can receive any blood type without experiencing harmful effects.
Rh typing determines a patient's Rh type by identifying another set of antigens on their red blood cells. There are two major Rh types: positive and negative. A Type A patient can be A+ or A-, with the positive or negative referring to the Rh typing. An Rh+ patient can receive Rh+ and Rh- blood, while an Rh- patient can only receive Rh- blood.
Another compatibility test for a potential blood transfusion recipient is called antibody screen. It is used to detect other antibodies in a patient to determine compatibility with donor blood. An antibody screen is performed to detect unexpected antibodies in the recipient's blood.
The final test before transfusion is the crossmatch. The crossmatch is performed by testing the donor blood cells with the patient's serum to confirm compatibility. Once compatibility is confirmed, transfusion can safely begin.