Choosing Wisely:

Don’t transfuse more than the minimum number of red blood cell (RBC) units necessary to relieve symptoms of anemia or to return a patient to a safe hemoglobin range (7 to 8 g/dL in stable, noncardiac inpatients).

Rationale and Comments: Transfusion of the smallest effective dose of RBCs is recommended because liberal transfusion strategies do not improve outcomes when compared to restrictive strategies. Unnecessary transfusion generates costs and exposes patients to potential adverse effects without any likelihood of benefit. Clinicians are urged to avoid the routine administration of two units of RBCs if one unit is sufficient and to use appropriate weight-based dosing of RBCs in children.
Sponsoring Organizations:
  • American Society of Hematology
  • Sources:
  • AABB guidelines
  • Disciplines:
  • Hematologic
  • References: • Carson JL, Grossman BJ, Kleinman S, Tinmouth AT, Marques MB, Fung MK, Holcomb JB, Illoh O, Kaplan LJ, Katz LM, Rao SV, Roback JD, Shander A, Tobian AA, Weinstein R, Swinton McLaughlin LG, Djulbegovic B; Clinical Transfusion Medicine Committee of the AABB. Red blood cell transfusion: a clinical practice guideline from the AABB. Ann Intern Med. 2012 Jul 3;157(1):49-58.
    • Retter A, Wyncoll D, Pearse R, Carson D, McKechnie S, Stanworth S, Allard S, Thomas D, Walsh T; British Committee for Standards in Hematology. Guidelines on the management of anaemia and red cell transfusion in adult critically ill patients. Br J Haematol. 2013 Feb;160(4):445-64.

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