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Standardized Implementation of Evidence-based Guidelines to Decrease Blood Transfusions in Pediatric Intensive Care Units. Pediatr Qual Saf 2019;4(3):e165



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INTRODUCTION: Despite evidence that red blood cell (RBC) transfusions may be associated with more harm than benefit, current transfusion practices vary significantly. This multicenter, quality improvement study aimed to sustainably decrease the rate of RBC transfusions in pediatric intensive care units (PICUs).

METHODS: This 16-month prospective study included 5 PICUs. We implemented a standardized project plan including education, bedside tools, real-time reminders, and email feedback. We collected data from consecutive transfusions during pre-implementation (Phase I), postimplementation (Phase II), and post-stabilization phases (Phase III).

RESULTS: Of the 2,064 RBC transfusions, we excluded 35% (N = 729) from analysis in patients undergoing extracorporeal membrane oxygenation. Transfusion/1,000 admissions improved throughout the study periods from a baseline 209.6 -199.8 in Phase II and 195.8 in Phase III (P value < 0.05). There were fewer transfusions outside of the hemoglobin threshold guideline, decreasing from 81% of transfusions outside of guidelines in Phase I to 74% in Phases II and III, P < 0.05. Study phase, site, co-management status, service of requesting provider, admit reason, previous transfusion status, and age were associated with transfusion above guideline threshold.

CONCLUSIONS: Multicenter collaboration can successfully deploy a standardized plan that adheres to implementation science principles to sustainably decrease the rate of RBC transfusion outside of guideline thresholds. However, we did not decrease the total number of transfusions in our study. The complexity of multiple specialties co-managing patients is common in the contemporary PICU. Educational initiatives aimed at one specialty may have limited effectiveness in a multifaceted system of care.

Author List

Hanson SJ, Owen EB, McDonald MJ, Woods KJ, Montgomery VL


Katherine Woods in the CTSI department at Medical College of Wisconsin - CTSI