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Variation of Blood Transfusion in Patients Undergoing Major Noncardiac Surgery

Qian, Feng MD, PhD*; Osler, Turner M. MD; Eaton, Michael P. MD*; Dick, Andrew W. PhD; Hohmann, Samuel F. PhD§; Lustik, Stewart J. MD, MBA*; Diachun, Carol A. MD*; Pasternak, Robert MD*; Wissler, Richard N. MD, PhD*; Glance, Laurent G. MD*

doi: 10.1097/SLA.0b013e31825ffc37
Original Articles

Objective: To examine the hospital variability in use of red blood cells (RBCs), fresh-frozen plasma (FFP), and platelet transfusions in patients undergoing major noncardiac surgery.

Background: Blood transfusion is commonly used in surgical procedures in the United States. Little is known about the hospital variability in perioperative transfusion rates for noncardiac surgery.

Methods: We used the University HealthSystem Consortium database (2006–2010) to examine hospital variability in use of allogeneic RBC, FFP, and platelet transfusions in patients undergoing major noncardiac surgery. We used regression-based techniques to quantify the variability in hospital transfusion practices and to study the association between hospital characteristics and the likelihood of transfusion.

Results: After adjusting for patient risk factors, hospital transfusion rates varied widely for patients undergoing total hip replacement (THR), colectomy, and pancreaticoduodenectomy. Compared with patients undergoing THR in average-transfusion hospitals, patients treated in high-transfusion hospitals have a greater than twofold higher odds of being transfused with RBCs [adjusted odds ratio (AOR) = 2.41; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.89–3.09], FFP (AOR = 2.81; 95% CI, 2.02–3.91), and platelets (AOR = 2.52; 95% CI, 1.95–3.25), whereas patients in low-transfusion hospitals have an approximately 50% lower odds of receiving RBCs (AOR = 0.45; 95% CI, 0.35–0.57), FFP (AOR = 0.37; 95% CI, 0.27–0.51), and platelets (AOR = 0.42; 95% CI, 0.29–0.62). Similar results were obtained for colectomy and pancreaticoduodenectomy.

Conclusions: There was dramatic hospital variability in perioperative transfusion rates among patients undergoing major noncardiac surgery at academic medical centers. In light of the potential complications of transfusion therapy, reducing this variability in hospital transfusion practices may result in improved surgical outcomes.

Little is known about the hospital variability in perioperative transfusion rates for noncardiac surgery. We examined the hospital variability in use of red blood cells, fresh-frozen plasma, and platelet transfusions in patients undergoing major noncardiac surgery. We found that there was dramatic hospital variability in perioperative transfusion rates at academic medical centers.

*Department of Anesthesiology, University of Rochester School of Medicine, Rochester, NY

Department of Surgery, University of Vermont College of Medicine, Burlington, VT

RAND, RAND Health, Boston, MA

§Comparative Data & Information Research, University HealthSystem Consortium. and Department of Health Systems Management, Rush University, Chicago, IL.

Reprints: Feng Qian, MD, PhD, University of Rochester Medical Center, 601 Elmwood Avenue, Box 604, Rochester, NY 14642. E-mail: Feng_Qian@urmc.rochester.edu.

Disclosure: This project was supported by a grant from the Agency for Healthcare and Quality Research (RO1 HS 16737) and funding from the Department of Anesthesiology, University of Rochester.

© 2013 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.