Bacterial Contamination in Platelets is a Major Issue
Bacterial contamination, especially of platelets, is a major challenge for blood banks. Platelet storage permits growth of aerobic bacteria, with the potential for transmission to patients receiving platelet preparations. Up to 4,000 of the platelet units transfused each year in the United States are contaminated with bacteria, which may cause sepsis—fatal in 10% of the patients who contract it.
Because of the magnitude of the problem of contaminated platelet units, different approaches have been taken to try to reduce the risk of transfusion-associated bacterial sepsis. Many are so cumbersome, ineffective, or impractical that the FDA has limited platelet shelf life to 5 days.