Fresh-Frozen Plasma: Ordering Patterns and Utilization in the Operating Rooms of a Tertiary Referral Hospital

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Blood product transfusion is the most commonly performed hospital procedure. Intraoperative blood product utilization varies between institutions and anesthesiologists. In the United States in 2011, nearly 4 million plasma units were transfused.


A retrospective analysis of intraoperative plasma ordering patterns and utilization (thawing and transfusing) was performed at a tertiary, academic hospital between January 2015 and March 2016.


Over 15 months, 46,002 operative procedures were performed. In 1540 of them, plasma was thawed or transfused: 8297 plasma units were thawed and 3306 of those units were transfused. These 3306 plasma units were transfused in 749 cases with a median of 2 plasma units (interquartile range, 2–4) transfused. The percentage of average monthly procedures with plasma thawed and none transfused was 51.3% (confidence interval, 49.0%–53.6%). The cardiac surgery service requested the greatest number of plasma units to be thawed (2143) but only transfused 712 (33.2%) of them. Of all plasma units not transfused, 45% were generated by procedures with 1 to 4 units of plasma thawed; 95.7% of these units were thawed as even integers (ie, 2, 4).


For operative procedures, far more plasma was thawed than was transfused and this practice occurred across surgical specialties and anesthesiologists. Considering the plasma that was not transfused, 45% occurred in procedures with 4 or fewer units of plasma requested suggesting these low-volume requests were a primary source of potential waste. Further studies are needed to examine associations between plasma utilization and clinical outcomes.

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