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Original article

Vol. 145 No. 0304 (2015)

Adherence to transfusion guidelines: are we prepared for the Smarter Medicine or Choosing Wisely® initiative?

  • Bernard Surial
  • Andreas Burkhart
  • Nicolas Terliesner
  • Martina Morgenthaler
  • Esther Bächli
Cite this as:
Swiss Med Wkly. 2015;145:w14084


OBJECTIVE: To determine, whether a restrictive transfusion strategy is followed in our hospital and to identify differences in activities within departments and patient groups.

METHOD: Over a period of 15 months, RBC transfusions were prospectively recorded including the haemoglobin level prior to transfusion and were grouped in the different departments of our hospital (internal medicine ward, department of surgery, emergency room, intensive care unit, gynaecology ward, medical outpatient clinic and oncology outpatient clinic). Indications and co-morbidities were assessed retrospectively by reviewing the patient’s charts.

RESULTS: There were 1,832 RBC products transfused in total. The overall mean level of haemoglobin before transfusion was 7.61 g/dl (±1.1). These haemoglobin levels differed significantly between the departments (p <0.001), with the lowest threshold in the internal medicine ward (7.30 g/dl ± 1.0) compared to the surgery ward (7.73 g/dl ± 1.0) and to the intensive care unit (7.82 g/dl ± 0.9). In general, mean pre-transfusion haemoglobin levels did not differ significantly between patients with coronary artery disease (CAD) and patients without (7.64 g/dl ± 1.0 vs 7.59 g/dl ± 1.1, p = 0.48). In transfusions for patients with acute coronary syndrome a tendency to a higher transfusion threshold than in patients with stable CAD could be found (7.84 g/dl ± 0.7 vs 7.58 g/dl ± 1.0, p = 0.05). Patients with haematological disorders were transfused at a higher threshold when compared to patients without (7.77 g/dl vs 7.56 g/dl, p = 0.006).

CONCLUSION: All wards in our analysis are following the current guidelines based on restrictive transfusion strategies. At the same time, we were able to detect significant differences between different departments and patient characteristics.


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