Decrease Seen in Red Blood Cell, Plasma Transfusions in U.S.

Bottom Line: The frequency of red blood cell and plasma transfusions decreased among hospitalized patients in the United States from 2011 to 2014.

Why The Research Is Interesting: Blood transfusions are one of the most common hospital procedures. Hospitals have implemented blood management programs with restrictive transfusion practices that are aimed at improving patient outcomes, reducing costs and conserving blood.

What and When: An examination of 20 percent of all U.S. hospital inpatient discharges from 1993 to 2014 to examine trends in transfusions of red blood cells, plasma and platelets

How (Study Design): This is a population epidemiology study. A population epidemiology study describes characteristics of one or more large populations, typically without detailed information about underlying causes.

Authors: Aaron A. R. Tobian, M.D., Ph.D., Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, and coauthors

Results: There was a decrease in red blood cell and plasma transfusions from 2011 to 2014; platelet transfusions remained stable.

Study Limitations: The diagnostic coding used for this study was carried out primarily for billing purposes and it was not possible to verify its accuracy. The study also was limited to inpatient transfusions, so the results may not be generalizable to outpatient transfusions.

Study Conclusions: Observed decreases in red blood cell and plasma transfusions may demonstrate the safety of restricting red blood cell transfusions, blood management programs and blood conservation initiatives.

For more details and to read the full study, please visit the For The Media website.

(doi:10.1001/jama.2017.20121)