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There continues to be a general but unfounded enthusiasm for fresh frozen plasma (FFP) usage across a range of clinical specialties in hospital practice. Clinical use of plasma has grown steadily over the last two decades in many countries. In England and Wales, there has not been a significant reduction in the use of FFP over the last few years, unlike red cells. There is also evidence of variation in usage among countries--use in England and Wales may be proportionately less per patient than current levels of usage in other European countries and the United States. Plasma for transfusion is most often used where there is abnormal coagulation screening tests, either therapeutically in the face of bleeding, or prophylactically in non-bleeding subjects prior to invasive procedures or surgery. Little evidence exists to inform best therapeutic plasma transfusion practice. Most studies have described plasma use in a prophylactic setting, in which laboratory abnormalities of coagulation tests are considered a predictive risk factor for bleeding prior to invasive procedures. The strongest randomised controlled trial (RCT) evidence indicates that prophylactic plasma for transfusion is not effective across a range of different clinical settings and this is supported by data from non-randomised studies in patients with mild to moderate abnormalities in coagulation tests. There are also uncertainties whether plasma consistently improves the laboratory results for patients with mild to moderate abnormalities in coagulation tests. There is a need to undertake new trials evaluating the efficacy and adverse effects of plasma, both in bleeding and non-bleeding patients, to understand whether the "presumed" benefits outweigh the "real risks". In addition, new haemostatic tests should be validated which better define risk of bleeding.

Original publication




Conference paper

Publication Date





551 - 556


Blood Coagulation Tests, Blood Transfusion, Guideline Adherence, Humans, Plasma, Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic, Transfusion Reaction