Organizational Contributors to the Variation in Red Blood Cell Transfusion Practices in Cardiac Surgery: Survey Results From the State of Michigan

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Anesthesia and analgesia


BACKGROUND: While large volumes of red blood cell transfusions are given to preserve life for cardiac surgical patients, indications for lower volume transfusions (1-2 units) are less well understood. We evaluated the relationship between center-level organizational blood management practices and center-level variability in low volume transfusion rates.

METHODS: All 33 nonfederal, Michigan cardiac surgical programs were surveyed about their blood management practices for isolated, nonemergent coronary bypass procedures, including: (1) presence and structure of a patient blood management program, (2) policies and procedures, and (3) audit and feedback practices. Practices were compared across low (N = 14, rate: 0.8%-10.1%) and high (N = 18, rate: 11.0%-26.3%) transfusion rate centers.

RESULTS: Thirty-two (97.0%) of 33 institutions participated in this study. No statistical differences in organizational practices were identified between low- and high-rate groups, including: (1) the membership composition of patient blood management programs among those reporting having a blood management committee (P= .27-1.0), (2) the presence of available red blood cell units within the operating room (4 of 14 low-rate versus 2 of 18 high-rate centers report that they store no units per surgical case, P= .36), and (3) the frequency of internal benchmarking reporting about blood management audit and feedback practices (low rate: 8 of 14 versus high rate: 9 of 18; P= .43).

CONCLUSIONS: We did not identify meaningful differences in organizational practices between low- and high-rate intraoperative transfusion centers. While a larger sample size may have been able to identify differences in organizational practices, efforts to reduce variation in 1- to 2-unit, intraoperative transfusions may benefit from evaluating other determinants, including organizational culture and provider transfusion practices.

Medical Subject Headings

Academic Medical Centers; Cardiac Surgical Procedures; Coronary Artery Bypass; Erythrocyte Transfusion; Humans; Michigan; Surveys and Questionnaires

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