Blood transfusions are one of the basic procedures of emergency medicine - but doctors have discovered that they could be killing the patient. Patients who have a transfusion within 12 hours of being admitted to hospital are 25 per cent more likely to die compared with those who didn't have a transfusion. The transfused patient is also far more likely to suffer further stomach bleeding afterwards. Doctors who made the discovery are calling for an urgent review of transfusion policy. The study was based on records from 221 hospitals throughout the UK, which supplied data on 4,441 patients who had been admitted with acute upper gastro-intestinal bleeding. The researchers, from the University of Nottingham Medical School, say that transfusions should be reserved for patients who have suffered considerable blood loss that could be life-threatening. (Source: Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics, 2010; 32: 215).