MP15: Blood transfusion in upper gastrointestinal bleeding: evaluating physician practices in the emergency department
CJEM: Canadian Journal of Emergency Medical Care
Acute upper gastrointestinal bleeding (UGIB) is a common presentation to emergency departments (ED). Of these patients, 35-45% receive a blood transfusion. Guidelines for blood transfusion in UGIB have been well established, and recommend a hemoglobin (Hb) level below 70 g/L as the transfusion target in a stable patient. There is no consensus on a transfusion threshold for unstable UGIB. There is limited data regarding physician practices in the ED. The aim of our study is to determine the
... determine the appropriateness, by expert consensus, of blood transfusions in UGIB in a tertiary care hospital ED. Methods: We retrospectively reviewed patients presenting with UGIB to the University of Alberta Hospital ED in 2016. These patients were then screened for blood transfusions. Data were obtained from the patient records. Chart derived data were verified with records obtained from the blood bank. For each patient, the history, vitals, Glasgow Blatchford Score (GBS), relevant labs, and record of blood transfusions were collected and organized into a case summary. Each patient summary was presented individually to a panel of three expert clinicians (2 Gastroenterology, 1 Emergency Medicine), who then decided on the appropriateness of each blood transfusion by consensus. Results: Blood transfusions (data available 395/400) were given to 51% (202/395) of patients presenting with UGIB. Of these, 86% (174/202) were judged to be appropriate. Of the 395 patients, 34% (135/395) had a Hb of <70 g/L. Of these, 93% (126/135) were transfused, and all of these were considered appropriate. 18% (70/395) had a Hb between 71-80. 74% (52/70) of these patients were given blood, and 79% (41/52) were considered appropriate. 13% (50/395) of the patients had a Hb between 81-90, with 28% (14/50) receiving a transfusion. Of these, 36% (5/14) were deemed to be appropriate. 35% (140/395) of patients had a Hb of >90. 7% (10/140) of these received blood. 20% (2/10) were considered appropriate. Conclusion: The panel of expert clinicians judged 86% of the blood transfusions to be appropriate. All transfusions under the recommended guideline of 70 g/L were considered appropriate. In addition, the majority of transfusions above a Hb of 70 g/L were considered appropriate, but 37% were not. Further studies evaluating the feasibility of current guideline recommendations in an ED setting are required. Educational interventions should be created to reduce inappropriate blood transfusions above a Hb 70 g/L.