Background. Because of the numerous risks associated with the use of packed red blood cells (RBCs), it is critical that they be transfused only when appropriate. A hospital-wide educational program was developed in an attempt to improve the transfusion practices and provide a framework for blood bank audit at a Veterans Affairs teaching hospital. Materials and methods. The program required physicians to fill out an information sheet that listed appropriate criteria for transfusion. Charts were reviewed to determine if the transfusion met these criteria. If the transfusion was deemed inappropriate by peer review, the staff physician was notified by letter. The information sheet was used on a voluntary basis without chart review in 1989 and on a mandatory basis beginning in 1990. Transfusion rates and mortality were adjusted to patient days of hospitalization and evaluated using χ2 analysis. Results. While voluntary use did not affect transfusion rate, mandatory implementation resulted in a 26% decline (P < 0.001) between 1989 and 1990 in the number of RBC units transfused per patient days of hospitalization. A diminished use of RBCs persisted in the subsequent years. There was no increase in mortality during this time to suggest a detrimental effect from the decrease in RBC transfusion. No apparent variation in the hospital population could account for the changes. Conclusion. Use of a unique and simple transfusion request sheet as an educational tool resulted in improved transfusion practices at a Veteran Affairs teaching hospital.
- Red blood cell
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