Background Transfusion guidelines advocate restrictive rather than liberal use of red blood cells (RBC) and are based mostly on randomized trials in intensive care and surgical departments. We aimed to study RBC transfusion practice in the medical patients’ population. Methods The data in this study were collected from patients over the age of 18 years admitted to an Internal Medicine department between 2009 and 2014 who received at least one unit of packed red blood cells (RBC). In addition, data on demographics, patients’ diagnoses, laboratory tests and number of transfused RBC units were extracted from the electronic health records. Results One thousand three hundred and twenty eight patients were included, having mean age of 75 ± 14 years. The median hemoglobin (Hb) trigger for RBC transfusion was 8.0 g/dl (IQR 7.3–8.7g/dl), and most patients received either one (43.4%) or two (33.4%) RBC units. There was no significant difference in Hb trigger between males and females (Hb 8.0 g/dl and 7.9 g/dl, respectively, p = 0.098), and a weak correlation with age (r = 0.108 p = 0.001). Patients with cardiovascular and lung diseases had a statistically significant higher Hb trigger compared to patients without those diagnoses, however the median difference between them was 0.5 g/dl or less. Conclusions These "real world" data we collected show a Hb trigger compliant with the upper limit of published guidelines and influenced by medical patients’ common diagnoses. Prospective trials addressing patients hospitalized in internal medicine departments could further contribute to transfusion decision algorithms.
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© 2018 Rahimi-Levene et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
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