Compatibility testing

Last updated: Wednesday, 05, December, 2007

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Item Process

10 mL blood in plain tube; for some methods, blood in EDTA is preferred.

Careful labelling of tubes, with correct patient details (name, date of birth, identification number) and collection date is essential. Witness to sign tube and request form.


Blood group and serum antibody screen performed; ABO and Rh(D) matched donor blood selected.

Recipient serum tested against donor red cells by indirect antiglobulin test and one other technique (eg, saline, polybrene, enzyme).

Crossmatch may be replaced by an immediate spin compatibility test if the recent blood group antibody screen is negative.

See also Blood group and Blood group antibody screen.


Selection of compatible blood for transfusion.


Compatibility confirms matching of blood donor and recipient and excludes the possibility of immediate haemolytic transfusion reactions. Delayed haemolytic transfusion reactions and febrile (non-haemolytic) reactions may still occur.

Uncrossmatched, or even incompatible, blood may be issued in life-threatening emergencies, even when alloantibodies are known to be present, if there is no compatible blood available.


Napier JA. Br J Haematol 1991; 78: 1-4.

Guidelines for Pre-transfusion Testing. 2nd ed. Australasian Society of Blood Transfusion 1993.