Choosing Wisely:

Don’t transfuse red blood cells in hemodynamically stable, non-bleeding ICU patients with a hemoglobin concentration greater than 7 mg/dL.

Rationale and Comments: Most red blood cell transfusions in the ICU are for benign anemia rather than acute bleeding that causes hemodynamic compromise. For all patient populations in which it has been studied, transfusing red blood cells at a threshold of 7 mg/dL is associated with similar or improved survival, fewer complications and reduced costs compared to higher transfusion triggers. More aggressive transfusion may also limit the availability of a scarce resource. It is possible that different thresholds may be appropriate in patients with acute coronary syndromes, although most observational studies suggest harms of aggressive transfusion even among such patients.
Sponsoring Organizations:
  • Critical Care Societies Collaborative–Critical Care
  • Sources:
  • Randomized controlled trials
  • Disciplines:
  • Hematologic
  • References: • Corwin HL, Gettinger A, Pearl RG, Fink MP, Levy MM, Abraham E, MacIntyre NR, Shabot MM, Duh MS, Shapiro MJ. The CRIT Study: anemia and blood transfusion in the critically ill – current clinical practice in the United States. Crit Care Med. 2004;32(1):39–52.
    • Carson JL, Terrin ML, Noveck H, Sanders DW, Chaitman BR, Rhoads GG, Nemo G, Dragert K, Beaupre L, Hildebrand K, Macaulay W, Lewis C, Cook DR, Dobbin G, Zakriya KJ, Apple FS, Horney RA, Magaziner J; FOCUS Investigators. Liberal or restrictive transfusion in high-risk patients after hip surgery. N Eng J Med. 2011;365(26):2453–62.
    • Hajjar LA, Vincent JL, Galas F, Nakamura RE, Silva CM, Santos MH, Fukushima J, Kalil Filho R, Sierra DB, Lopes NH, Mauad T, Roquim AC, Sundin MR, Leão WC, Almeida JP, Pomerantzeff PM, Dallan LO, Jatene FB, Stolf NA, Auler JO Jr. Transfusion requirements after cardiac surgery: the TRACS randomized controlled trial. JAMA-JAMA. 2010;304(14):1559–67.
    • Hebert PC, Wells G, Blajchman MA, Marshall J, Martin C, Pagliarello G, Tweeddale M, Schweitzer I, Yetisir E. A multicenter, randomized, controlled clinical trial of transfusion requirements in critical care. N Eng J Med. 1999;340(6):409–17.
    • Villanueva C, Colomo A, Bosch A, Concepción M, Hernandez-Gea V, Aracil C, Graupera I, Poca M, Alvarez-Urturi C, Gordillo J, Guarner-Argente C, Santaló C, Muñiz E, Guarner C. Transfusion strategies for acute upper gastrointestinal bleeding. N Eng J Med. 2013;368:11–21.
    • Chatterjee S, Wetterslev J, Sharma A, Lichstein E, Mukherjee D. Association of blood transfusion with increased mortality in myocardial infarction. JAMA.2013;173:132–39.

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