Retrospective surveys of obstetric red cell transfusion practice in the UK and USA.

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To examine whether professional guidance promoting a policy of restrictive blood transfusion is being followed.


A retrospective analysis of post-delivery transfusion data from 17 maternity units in the UK (1988-2000) was undertaken. Additionally, an audit was performed of women receiving one or two units of red cells 6-24 hours after delivery at three centers in the UK and USA in 2013-2016.


Between 1988 and 2000, 4700 women received one or two transfusions: 303 (6.4%) received one unit and 4397 (93.6%) received two. Median estimated blood loss (EBL) was similar in both groups (600 mL [IQR 400-1000] vs 700 mL [IQR 400-1000], respectively; P=0.862]. Between 2013 and 2016, 41, 22, and 64 women received one or two units during transfusion at centers A, B, and C, respectively. Two units were transfused for 40 (97.6%) of the women in center A, 21 (95.5%) at center B, and 58 (90.6%) at center C. Median EBL was similar, irrespective of whether one or two units were given.


Current transfusion practice deviates from evidence-based guidelines. Either by default or longstanding tradition, more women receive two rather than one unit despite similar EBL.

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