BACKGROUND: Blood is a costly and scarce resource. We report on a systematic review of the literature to estimate the cost of a 2-unit red blood cell (RBC) transfusion in Western Europe.
STUDY DESIGN AND METHODS: Medline was searched for studies about the cost of RBC transfusion in Europe. Data extracted included authors, country, year of data, cost perspective, cost types, cost elements, units examined, study design, study population, and cost of a 2-unit blood transfusion. The population-weighted mean cost per 2 units of transfused blood was calculated.
RESULTS: Six studies met inclusion and exclusion criteria and reported data from the United Kingdom, Sweden, Switzerland, Austria, and France. Methodology used to derive cost estimates differed across the studies. The population-weighted mean cost of transfusing 2 units of blood was €877.69.
CONCLUSION: The estimated cost of transfusing 2 units of RBCs in Western Europe is significant. Differences in methodology were partially diffused by aggregation of prior estimates into a population-weighted mean. Future cost studies should follow the Cost of Blood Consensus Conference (COBCON) recommendation to apply activity-based costing methods.