This analysis focused on three objectives: 1) to measure packed red blood cell (pRBC) use across different critical care settings; 2) to characterize transfused and nontransfused critically ill patients; and (3) to identify potential predictors of transfusion use.
A retrospective analysis of critically ill patients from 139 hospitals across the United States was conducted. Hospital administrative and laboratory data were collected for patients 18 years of age and older admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU) (including coronary care unit and intermediate care units) from January 1, 2004, to May 31, 2005. Multivariate analyses controlling for patient and hospital heterogeneity evaluated the association between pRBC transfusions and patients' ICU or hospital length of stay.
A total of 180,221 patients met all inclusion criteria, with 29,331 (16.3%) receiving pRBCs during their ICU stay. There was differential use of pRBCs by ICU/coronary care unit setting (ie, 23% of general ICU patients versus 7% of intermediate coronary care unit patients). Increasing age [odds ratio (OR), 1.007; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.006-1.008], declining hemoglobin concentrations (OR, 2.315; 95% CI, 2.288-2.342), mechanical ventilation (OR, 1.338; 95% CI, 1.287-1.392), dialysis (OR, 2.071; 95% CI, 1.913-2.242), and presence of acute renal failure (OR, 1.259; 95% CI, 1.193-1.329), congestive heart failure (OR, 1.156; 95% CI, 1.106-1.208), or septicemia (OR, 1.143; 95% CI, 1.071-1.221) were associated with a higher likelihood of pRBC use. Each pRBC transfusion significantly increased hospital length of stay (1.6, 0.5, and 2.7 additional days for patients with 1, 2, and 3 or more transfusions, respectively, P < 0.0001) as compared with nontransfused patients.
Multiple factors increased the likelihood of pRBC use in ICU patients. In addition, pRBC transfusion was associated with increased length of stay. Clinicians should evaluate the risk-benefit ratio and consider interventions to limit any unnecessary pRBC use in the critically ill.