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Keywords:

  • ARC = American Red Cross;
  • BaCon Study = the Frequency of Blood Component Bacterial Contamination Associated with Transfusion Reaction Study;
  • DoD = Department of Defense;
  • PGFE = pulsed-field gel electrophoresis

BACKGROUND: The transfusion of blood components contaminated with bacteria may have serious clinical consequences, but few data are available on the incidence of these events. A national effort to assess the frequency of blood component bacterial contamination associated with transfusion reaction (the BaCon Study) was initiated to better estimate their occurrence.

STUDY DESIGN AND METHODS: Standard reporting criteria, data collection forms, and a standardized reporting protocol were developed in collaboration with the American Red Cross, AABB, and the Department of Defense. Episodes reported to the BaCon Study were compared with those reported to the FDA's national reporting systems to estimate the extent to which all serious reactions associated with bacterial contamination were captured.

RESULTS: During the first 2 years, 38 episodes meeting study criteria were reported; 21 were laboratory-confirmed. The estimated proportion of episodes reported to the BaCon Study (i.e., completeness of coverage) was lower than that reported to the FDA during the same period (0.33 vs. 0.68), but the positive predictive value was higher (0.66 vs.0.28).

CONCLUSION: Despite the complexity of obtaining reports from a large number of United States hospitals and transfusion centers, the feasibility and usefulness of the BaCon Study were shown. This study was the only national study in the United States to monitor adverse clinical events associated with bacterial contamination of blood components. By building on hospital-based reporting of transfusion-related adverse events, the BaCon Study serves as a model for the study of other complications associated with blood and blood components.