DAT and Selection of RBC Units for Transfusion

This is an update of a previous post.


In 1984 effective with the 13th Edition AABB Standards, the requirements for performing a direct antiglobulin test and autocontrol for compatibility testing were eliminated.  The DAT is very important to detect delayed hemolytic transfusion reactions, certain autoimmune conditions, and drug-related hemolysis.

Since that time, the immediate-spin crossmatch and now the electronic computer paperless crossmatch may be used for most compatibility testing in place of the classic, antiglobulin-phase (indirect antiglobulin test) crossmatch.

If an antiglobulin phase (IAT) crossmatch is performed, an RBC unit with a positive DAT will cause a false-positive reaction.  Since most crossmatching does not include the IAT, it will not be affected by the DAT status of a donor unit.


  1. Donor RBC units will NOT be routinely tested for DAT as part of component processing.
  2. The type of compatibility testing selected for a particular patient should be the technically simplest one (no need to do extra work unless so instructed by the transfusion medicine consultant/designate):
  3. Do a full antiglobulin-phase IAT crossmatch if ANY of the following applies:
    1. There are no two independent ABO/D typings on the patient during the current admission.
    2. The ABO/D type of the current admission does not match the historical information.
    3. The patient has a detectable antibody at 37C
    4. The patient has a history of a clinically significant antibody but no current antibody
    5. Whenever the consultant, transfusion medicine/designate requests it.
    6. Whenever the Medinfo HIIG record so indicates (in comment section)
  4. Do the immediate-spin crossmatch if ALL of the following apply:
    1. Only one determination of the ABO/D type
    2. The historical ABO/D type agrees with the current type.
    3. There are no antibodies reacting at 37C AND there is no history of antibodies at 37C.
  5. Use the computer/electronic crossmatch if ALL of the following apply:
    1. There are two determinations of the ABO/D type and they both agree with each other.
    2. The historical ABO/D type agrees with the current type.
    3. There are no antibodies reacting at 37C AND there is no history of antibodies at 37C.
  6. When to do a DAT on a donor unit:
    1. Patient antibody screen is negative but the full AHG crossmatch is incompatible.
    2. Part of a transfusion reaction workup where the AHG crossmatch of donor cells and patient serum is incompatible.
    3. Whenever the consultant, transfusion medicine/designate requests it.
  7. If a donor unit is found with a positive DAT:
    1. Required testing and review:
    2. Test with polyspecific and monospecific IgG and C3d antisera
    3. Perform an acid-elution.
    4. Send the results to the transfusion medicine consultant/designate for review.
    5. The reviewer will enter his review in HIIG in the Donor Consultation Section both as global donor comment and a result-specific comment against the antibody screen result.
    6. Use of the DAT-positive donor unit:
      1. Most of the time you will not know if the donor RBC unit is DAT-positive since we mainly use the electronic crossmatch.  It will be used if all criteria are met.
      2. Otherwise, select another RBC unit for the AHG crossmatch.
      3. The final decision to use the DAT-positive unit will be made by the Transfusion Medicine consultant/designate.

Important:  Don’t do a classic AHG/IAT phase crossmatch unless you have to do it  (see conditions above.)  A donor unit with a DAT is unlikely to be clinically significant and may be transfused safely to the patient in most situations.  Patients receiving electronic-crossmatch and immediate-spin crossmatch are receiving units with positive DAT without incident.


  1. Standards for Blood Banks and Transfusion Services, Current Edition, AABB, Bethesda, MD, USA
  2. Guidelines to the Preparation, Use, and Quality Assurance of Blood Components, European Committee (Partial Agreement) on Blood Transfusion (CD-P-TS), Current Edition
  3. Technical Manual, Current Edition, AABB, Bethesda, MD, USA, 2012