Providing bloodless medical care for patients who wish to avoid allogeneic transfusion can be challenging; however, previous studies have demonstrated favorable outcomes when appropriate methods are used. Here, we report one of the largest series of patients receiving bloodless care, along with the methods used to provide such care, and the resulting outcomes.
In a retrospective cohort study, 1111 adult inpatients (age ≥18 years) at a single institution who declined allogeneic transfusion for religious or personal reasons between June 2012 and June 2016 were included, and the patient blood management methods are described. Patient characteristics, laboratory data, and transfusion rates, as well as clinical outcomes (morbidity, mortality, and length of stay) were compared to all other patients in the hospital who received standard care, including transfusions if needed (n = 137,009). Medical and surgical patients were analyzed as subgroups. The primary outcome was composite morbidity (any morbid event: infectious, thrombotic, ischemic, renal, or respiratory). Secondary outcomes included individual morbid events, in-hospital mortality, length of stay, total hospital charges, and costs.
The bloodless cohort had more females and a lower case mix index, but more preadmission comorbidities. Mean nadir hemoglobin during hospitalization was lower in the bloodless (9.7 ± 2.6 g/dL) compared to the standard care (10.1 ± 2.4 g/dL) group (P < .0001). Composite morbidity occurred in 14.4% vs 16.0% (P = .16) of the bloodless and standard care patients, respectively. Length of stay and in-hospital mortality were similar between the bloodless and standard care patients. After Bonferroni adjustment for multiple comparisons, hospital-acquired infection occurred less frequently in the bloodless compared to the standard care cohort (4.3% vs 8.3%) (P < .0001) in the medical patient subgroup, but not in the surgical subgroup. After propensity score adjustment in a multivariable model and adjustment for multiple comparisons, bloodless care was associated with less risk of hospital-acquired infection (OR, 0.56; 95% CI, 0.35–0.83; P = .0074) in the medical subgroup, but not in the surgical subgroup. Median total hospital charges (by 8.5%; P = .0017) and costs (by 8.7%; P = .0001) were lower in the bloodless compared to the standard care cohort, when all patients were included.
Overall, adult patients receiving bloodless care had similar clinical outcomes compared to patients receiving standard care. Medical (but not surgical) bloodless patients may be at less risk for hospital-acquired infection compared to those receiving standard care. Bloodless care is cost-effective and should be considered as high-value practice.