Wednesday, August 8, 2012

New Study Reveals Wide Variation in Blood Transfusion Practices During Surgery

In the study, conducted at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, researchers collected data on 48,086 surgical patients over 18 months and evaluated blood transfusion frequency and hemoglobin triggers by surgical procedure and physician. A total of 2,981 patients (6.2%) received an intra-operative red blood cell transfusion, with two-thirds of those patients receiving two or more units. Transfusion rates varied up to threefold between different physicians performing the same procedure (p<0.05). The average transfusion hemoglobin trigger used to determine need for blood transfusion varied widely with both surgeons (7.2 g/dL to 9.8 g/dL, p=0.001 and anesthesiologists (7.2 g/dL to 9.6 g/dL, p=0.001). The ending hemoglobin values after the last recorded transfusion also varied widely for both surgeons (8.8 g/dL to 11.8 g/dL, p=0.001) and anesthesiologists (9.0 g/dL to 11.7 g/dL, p=0.0004). A recent laboratory hemoglobin measurement was not available when 31% of transfusion decisions were made.

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