TRANSFUSION 2017;57;1163–1170

Single-unit transfusions and hemoglobin trigger: relative impact on red cell utilization

William W. Yang,1 Rajiv N. Thakkar,3 Eric A. Gehrie,2 Weiyun Chen,4 and Steven M. Frank5


BACKGROUND: Patient blood management (PBM) programs can reduce unnecessary transfusions, but the

optimal methods used to achieve this effect are unclear. We tested the hypothesis that encouraging single-unit red blood cell (RBC) transfusions in stable patients would have a greater impact on blood use than compliance with a specific hemoglobin (Hb) transfusion trigger alone.

STUDY DESIGN AND METHODS: We analyzed blood utilization data at three community hospitals without previous PBM efforts before and after implementing a PBM program. Data were analyzed at monthly intervals to determine the relative impact of a “Why give 2 when 1 will do?” campaign promoting single unit RBC transfusions and simultaneous efforts to promote evidence-based Hb triggers of 7 or 8 g/dL. Univariate and multivariate analyses were used to identify independent effects of these two interventions on overall RBC utilization.

RESULTS: Univariate analysis revealed that both the increase in single-unit transfusions (from 38.0% to 70.9%; p<0.0001) and the decrease in RBC orders with an Hb trigger of at least 8 g/dL (from 45.7% to 25.0%; p<0.0001) were associated with decreasing RBC utilization. Multivariate analysis showed that the increase in single-unit transfusions was an independent predictor of decreased RBC utilization, but the Hb triggers of both 7 and 8 g/dL were not. Overall, our PBM efforts decreased RBC utilization from 0.254 to 0.185 units/ patient (27.2%) across all three hospitals (p50.0009).

CONCLUSIONS: A campaign promoting single-unit RBC transfusions had a greater impact on RBC utilization than did encouraging a restrictive transfusion trigger

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