Transfusion-Associated Circulatory Overload: Evidence-Based Strategies to Prevent, Identify, and Manage a Serious Adverse Event
Transfusion-associated circulatory overload (TACO) is a potentially life-threatening complication of blood transfusion and is associated with increased morbidity, length of stay (hospital and intensive care unit), and hospital costs. Bedside nurses play a key role in the prevention, identification, and reporting of this complication. A common misperception is that the most frequently encountered serious adverse event during transfusion is a hemolytic reaction in a patient who receives ABO-incompatible blood. In fact, the incidence of TACO-related fatalities is higher than fatalities caused by ABO-related hemolytic reactions. Surveillance and evidence-based strategies such as clinical decision support systems have the potential to reduce the incidence of TACO and mitigate its effects. Practical suggestions for conducting bedside transfusion surveillance and future directions for improving transfusion care are presented.