J Intensive Care 2019 4;7:19. Epub 2019 Apr 4.
1Department of Community Health Sciences, Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary, 3D18, Teaching Research and Wellness Building, 3280 Hospital Drive NW, Calgary, Alberta T2N 4N1 Canada.
Background: Red blood cell (RBC) transfusions are common procedures performed in the intensive care unit (ICU). However, conservative transfusion approaches have been recommended to avoid RBC transfusions that are not clinically necessary and to achieve optimal patient outcomes. The objective of this study was to examine the utilization and costs of RBC transfusions in medical-surgical ICUs and to compare this information against clinical guideline recommendations for best practice.
Methods: Retrospective observational analysis of RBC transfusions in stable, non-bleeding adult patients was examined in a geographically-defined, population-based cohort of nine integrated ICUs between April 1, 2014 and December 31, 2016. RBC transfusions associated with a pre-transfusion hemoglobin value of 70 g/L or more were examined through linear and logistic regression. The total costs of RBC transfusions, based on the RBC unit cost, were estimated.
Results: A total of 4632 RBC transfusions (2287 ICU admissions) were included. Pre-transfusion hemoglobin values were identified for 4487 transfusions. On average, 61% occurred at or above a hemoglobin value of 70 g/L (mean 73.4 ± 9.2 g/L). Factors associated with such transfusions included being male, age over 75, Sequential Organ Failure Assessment (SOFA) score greater or equal to 10, transfer from operating room, gastrointestinal bleeding, and trauma. A pre-transfusion hemoglobin value at or above 70 g/L was associated with increased odds of ICU mortality; there was no impact on overall hospital mortality. The total estimated cost of RBC transfusions was $2.99M Canadian dollars (CAD), with $1.82M CAD attributed to those with a hemoglobin value at or above 70 g/L.
Conclusions: Over half of the examined RBC transfusions may not have aligned with recommended best practice; this suggests significant opportunity for improvement. The present findings are an essential step towards optimizing RBC transfusions in the ICU.