A guide on how, when, and why to start
The widespread availability of platelet concentrates throughout most developed nations has had a major impact on clinical care. They are not only used in patients who are bleeding, but also in patients with haematological disorders. Deciding when to transfuse a patient with platelets is complex, but it may be your responsibility as a junior doctor.
In the United Kingdom alone more than 258 000 units of platelets were issued in a single year.1 Furthermore, it is a relatively expensive treatment, with each unit of platelets costing around £245 (€281; $390).
Platelets are one of the constituents of the body’s clotting response. If a person’s platelet counts are below “normal levels,” it is termed thrombocytopenia and the person is at increased risk of prolonged bleeding. A platelet unit (or units) can be given to increase a patient’s platelet count, but transfusions are not always needed in patients with thrombocytopenia.
Platelets are supplied