Medicine: Stanching Transfusions

"Thoughtless prescription of blood transfusion is playing Russian roulette with bottles of blood instead of a revolver," wrote Dr. William H. Crosby Jr. of Washington's Walter Reed Army Hospital. "While the odds are in the physician's favor that nothing will go wrong, the patient takes the risk." Doctors are familiar with such warnings; yet every week in the U.S. and Canada one or more patients die because what was meant to be a lifesaving transfusion turns out to be a death-dealing dose of incompatible blood (such as type A given to somebody with...

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