Transfusion. 2023 May 16. doi: 10.1111/trf.17383. Online ahead of print.
BACKGROUND: Reducing variation in transfusion practices can prevent unwarranted transfusions, an outcome that improves quality of care and patient safety, while lowering costs and eliminating waste of blood. We developed and assessed a system-wide initiative to reduce variation in red blood cell (RBC) transfusion in terms of both transfusion utilization and the number of units transfused.
INTERVENTION DESIGN AND METHODS: Our initiative combined a single-unit default order for RBC transfusion in hemodynamically stable, non-bleeding patients with a "Why Give 2 When 1 Will Do?" Choosing Wisely campaign, while also promoting a restrictive hemoglobin threshold (Hb <7 g/dl). This multimodal intervention was implemented across an academic medical center (AMC) with over 950 beds and 10 community hospitals.
RESULTS: Between our baseline (CY 2020) and intervention period (CY 2021), single-unit orders increased from 57% to 70% of all RBC transfusion orders (p < .001). The greatest change in ordering practices was at community hospitals, where single-unit orders increased from 46% to 65% (p < .001). Over the same time period, the system-wide mean (SD) Hb result prior to transfusion fell from 7.3 (0.05) to 7.2 g/dl (0.04) (p < .05). We estimate this effort saved over 4000 units of blood and over $4 million in direct and indirect costs in its first year.
DISCUSSION: By combining a single-unit default setting in the RBC order with a restrictive hemoglobin threshold, we significantly reduced variation in ordering practices. This effort demonstrates the value of single-unit policies and "nudges" in system-wide patient blood management initiatives.