Transfusion of red blood cells: no impact on length of hospital stay in moderately anaemic parturients

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In a search for information to improve decision making on red blood cell (RBC) transfusion, we examined the impact of RBC transfusion on the length of hospital stay for delivery in moderately anaemic women (haemoglobin, 7–10 g/dl).


This was a retrospective, observational study covering 2 years (2002 and 2003), and included major blood-transfusing hospitals from four university and five central hospital districts managing 67.5% of Finnish in-hospital deliveries. The impact of the transfusion of 1–2 RBC units vs. no transfusion on the length of hospital stay was evaluated for three different haemoglobin levels: 7–7.9, 8–8.9 and 9–10 g/dl.


Of the 1954 moderately anaemic mothers in hospital for delivery, 13.3% were transfused with RBC. The mean length of hospital stay was 5.2 days vs. the average Finnish hospital delivery stay of 3.5 days. No differences in stay were found between patients with comparable anaemia transfused with 1–2 RBC units or none (at the three haemoglobin levels: P= 0.50, P= 0.07 and P= 0.54, respectively). The final haemoglobin value was higher (P < 0.001) in transfused patients.


The duration of admission for delivery in moderately anaemic parturients was longer than the average length of hospital stay in Finnish parturients. However, 1–2 RBC units had no impact on the length of stay, suggesting that unnecessary RBCs are transfused after delivery. Thus, transfusion practices in obstetrics are not always optimal.

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