Effect of Transfusion on Mortality and Other Adverse Events Among Critically Ill Septic Patients: An Observational Study Using a Marginal Structural Cox Model*

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Abstract

Objectives:

RBC transfusion is often required in patients with sepsis. However, adverse events have been associated with RBC transfusion, raising safety concerns. A randomized controlled trial validated the 7 g/dL threshold, but previously transfused patients were excluded. Cohort studies led to conflicting results and did not handle time-dependent covariates and history of treatment. Additional data are thus warranted to guide patient’s management.

Design:

To estimate the effect of one or more RBC within 1 day on three major outcomes (mortality, ICU-acquired infections, and severe hypoxemia) at day 30, we used marginal structural models. A trajectory modeling, based on hematocrit evolution pattern, allowed identification of subgroups. Secondary analyses were performed into each of them.

Setting:

A prospective French multicenter database.

Patients:

Patients with sepsis at admission. Patients with hemorrhagic shock at admission were excluded.

Interventions:

None.

Measurements and Main Results:

Overall, in our cohort of 6,016 patients, RBC transfusion was not associated with death (hazard ratio, 1.07; 95% CI, 0.88–1.30; p = 0.52). However, RBC transfusion was associated with increased occurrence of ICU-acquired infections (hazard ratio, 2.77; 95% CI, 2.33–3.28; p < 0.01) and of severe hypoxemia (hazard ratio, 1.29; 95% CI, 1.14–1.47; p < 0.01). A protective effect from death by the transfusion was found in the subgroup with the lowest hematocrit level (26 [interquartile range, 24–28]) (hazard ratio, 0.72; 95% CI, 0.55–0.95; p = 0.02).

Conclusions:

RBC transfusion did not affect overall mortality in critically ill patients with sepsis. Increased occurrence rate of ICU-acquired infection and severe hypoxemia are expected outcomes from RBC transfusion that need to be weighted with its benefits in selected patients.

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