Infusion of chilled red blood cell or plasma products can be problem in certain situations. A blood warmer can be used to raise the temperature of the infusate close to body temperature.


Criteria for use of a blood warmer:

(1) large volume of a blood product relative to the patient's blood volume

(1a) surgery

(1b) trauma

(2) exchange transfusions

(2a) neonatal exchange transfusion

(2b) plasma exchange

(3) cold agglutinin disease



(1) Malfunction of the blood warmer can result in overheating of the blood, which can cause hemolysis or thermal injury.

(2) Trying to warm blood by other mechanisms (microwave oven, placing on a heater, etc.) must be avoided.

(3) Do not use for infusion of platelets.


The blood warmer used should:

(1) have been specifically designed for blood infusion

(2) have been inspected for proper functioning prior to use

(3) have a visible thermometer

(4) have an audible and visible alarm to alert the user if the temperature exceeds a threshold (usually 42°C)

(5) be operated by persons familiar with its operation


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