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Randomised, controlled trials of good quality are a recognised means to robustly assess the efficacy of interventions in clinical practice. A systematic identification and appraisal of all randomised trials involving fresh frozen plasma (FFP) indicates that most clinical indications for FFP, as currently recommended by practice guidelines, are not supported by evidence from randomised trials. This chapter will largely consider the implications of some of the findings from this systematic review. Many published trials on the use of FFP have enrolled small numbers of patients, and provided inadequate information on the ability of the trial to detect meaningful differences in outcomes between the two patient groups. Other concerns about the design of the trials include the dose of FFP used, and the potential for bias; no studies had taken adequate account of the extent to which adverse effects might negate the clinical benefits of treatment with FFP. In addition, there is little evidence for the effectiveness of the prophylactic use of FFP. There is a pressing need to consider how best to develop new trials to determine the effectiveness of FFP. How this can be achieved can be illustrated by reference to studies of albumin in critical care. A recent, large and well-designed randomised trial (Saline versus Albumin Fluid Evaluation study; SAFE) in critical care found no evidence of an increase in mortality with the use of albumin compared to saline, which had been hypothesised in an earlier systematic review. How the study findings will actually now influence the clinical use of albumin remains to be seen. Although the SAFE trial showed no increase in mortality with albumin compared with saline, it is difficult to justify its use in critical care given its considerably greater cost.

Original publication




Journal article


Best Pract Res Clin Haematol

Publication Date





67 - 82


Blood Coagulation Factors, Blood Component Transfusion, Clinical Trials as Topic, Humans, Plasma, Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic, Serum Albumin