BACKGROUND: In 2010, transfusion-associated circulatory overload (TACO) was the second most common cause of transfusion-related mortality reported to the Food and Drug Administration. We sought to determine the rate of TACO caused by plasma transfusion.
STUDY DESIGN AND METHODS: This study was conducted in two parts: 1) A retrospective analysis to determine the prevalence of TACO reactions caused by plasma at a tertiary care hospital from 2003 to 2010 was performed by analyzing the blood bank's electronic transfusion reaction records and 2) active surveillance of plasma recipients to determine if unreported TACO reactions had occurred over a 1-month period at the same hospital.
RESULTS: Eighty-seven reactions to plasma had been reported to the blood bank from 2003 through 2010. Of these reactions 23% (20/87) were TACO. The historical prevalence rate of TACO was 1 in 1566 (95% confidence interval [CI], 1:2564-1:1014). During the prospective 1-month surveillance period, 84 patients received a total of 272 units of plasma, and four TACO reactions in separate patients (4.8%) were identified, none of which were reported to the blood bank. The prevalence rate of TACO in the prospective study was 1 in 68 (95% CI, 1:250-1:27). In total, most patients (14/24) were in the intensive care unit when they experienced TACO and on average they had received 4.0 ± 2.3 units of plasma at an average rate of 647 ± 315 mL/hr before the TACO reaction.
CONCLUSIONS: Passive reporting of TACO grossly underestimates its actual prevalence. Educational efforts are needed to enhance physician recognition of TACO reactions.