BACKGROUND: Decreasing the overcollection of preoperative autologous blood is difficult to achieve. The purpose of this study was to determine whether an educational intervention designed to outline the risks of preoperative autologous collection can decrease such donations and, if so, to determine how this decrease will affect subsequent transfusion rates.
STUDY DESIGN AND METHODS: An educational intervention consisting of a didactic presentation to the Department of Gynecology staff about the risks and benefits of autologous blood was implemented. Written material with similar information was given to patients. Subsequently, the percentage of patients donating autologous blood, the number of autologous units donated, and the rates of transfusion in patients eligible for autologous donation who were admitted for elective abdominal or vaginal hysterectomy were measured. These rates were compared to those in similar patients admitted in the 2 years before the educational intervention.
RESULTS: After an educational intervention, the proportion of patients donating autologous blood decreased from 53 percent to 26 percent (p<0.01), and the number of units collected per patient decreased from 0.86 to 0.31 (p<0.01); this resulted in a savings of 80 autologous donations per year. Despite no difference in estimated blood loss (p = 0.46), the overall transfusion rate decreased from 10 percent to 3.7 percent (p = 0.03), while the allogeneic transfusion rate demonstrated no significant change (1.1% vs. 2.2%; p = 0.40).
CONCLUSIONS: Unnecessary preoperative autologous donations by elective hysterectomy patients can be decreased by educating physicians and patients about the risks of preoperative autologous blood donation. Decreasing such unnecessary donations can decrease the subsequent autologous transfusion rate, with its attendant risks, without increasing the risk of allogeneic transfusion.