Objective In elective orthopaedic hip- and knee replacement surgery patients, we studied the effect of implementation of a uniform transfusion policy on RBC usage.
Study Design and Methods A randomized, controlled study. A new uniform, restrictive transfusion policy was compared with standard care, which varied among the three participating hospitals. Only prestorage leucocyte-depleted RBC(s) were used. Primary end-point was RBC usage, related to length of hospital stay. Secondary end-points were Hb levels, mobilization delay and postoperative complications.
Results Six hundred and three patients were evaluated. Adherence to the protocol was over 95%. Overall mean RBC usage was 0·78 U/patient in the new policy group and 0·86 U/patient in the standard care policy group (mean difference 0·08;95% CI [−0·3; 0·2]; P = 0·53). In two hospitals, the new transfusion policy resulted in a RBC reduction of 30% (0·58U RBC/patient) (P = 0·17) and 41% (0·29 U RBC/patient) (P = 0·05) respectively. In the third hospital, however, RBC usage increased by 39% (0·31 U RBC/patient) (P = 0·02) with the new policy, due to a more restrictive standard care policy in that hospital. Length of hospital stay was not influenced by either policy.
Conclusions Implementation of a uniform transfusion protocol for elective lower joint arthroplasty patients is feasible, but does not always lead to a RBC reduction. Length of hospital stay was not affected.