Trends in Hospitalizations With a Red Blood Cell Transfusion

HCUP Statistical Brief, No. 215

Blood transfusion is a medical procedure to supply blood and blood components to a patient through an intravenous line to replace blood lost during surgery or injury or when the body cannot make blood properly because of illness. In modern practice, blood is separated into components to meet the specific needs of the patient. Red blood cells are the most commonly transfused blood component.

Although blood transfusion is recognized as crucial in treating certain diseases or conditions, published guidelines on blood utilization recommend restricting red blood cell transfusion in hospitalized patients to minimize adverse outcomes and reduce unnecessary health care costs. National surveys have reported an overall decrease in the number of units of blood transfused in inpatient and outpatient settings.

Trends in Hospitalizations With a Red Blood Cell Transfusion, a statistical brief from the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project, presents national data on hospital inpatient stays among adults with a red blood cell transfusion from 2000 to 2013. The analyses focus on stays with any red blood cell transfusion, rather than on the number of blood units transfused.

Highlights:

  • Hospital inpatient stays with a red blood cell transfusion increased 85.8 percent from 2000 to 2013, a trend that was not driven solely by increases in the total number of inpatient stays. The percentage of all inpatient stays with a red blood cell transfusion also nearly doubled from 2000 to 2013 (80.6 percent increase).
  • For all age groups, the percentage of adult inpatient stays with a red blood cell transfusion increased from 2000 to 2013. In 2013, nearly 10 percent of all stays for patients aged 65 years and older included a red blood cell transfusion.
  • Septicemia was the most frequent principal condition for stays with a red blood cell transfusion in 2013, followed by gastrointestinal hemorrhage.
  • Approximately 40 percent of hospital inpatient stays with a red blood cell transfusion also included a major therapeutic procedure. Treatment of a hip fracture or dislocation was the most frequent major procedure category with a red blood cell transfusion in 2013, followed by hip and knee replacement.
  • Approximately 34 percent of hospital inpatient stays with a red blood cell transfusion included a minor, but no major, therapeutic procedure. Respiratory intubation and mechanical ventilation was the most frequent minor procedure category with a red blood cell transfusion in 2013, followed by hemodialysis.

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Page last reviewed December 2016
Internet Citation: Trends in Hospitalizations With a Red Blood Cell Transfusion. Content last reviewed December 2016. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://www.ahrq.gov/news/hcup.html