The use of ABC score in activation of massive transfusion: The yin and the yang

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Abstract

BACKGROUND

Hemorrhage is the most common cause of early death in trauma patients. Massive transfusion protocols (MTPs) have been designed to accelerate the release of blood products but can result in waste if activated inappropriately. The Assessment of Blood Consumption (ABC) score has become a widely accepted score for MTP activation. In this study, we compared the use of ABC criteria to physician judgment in MTP activation.

METHODS

Adult trauma patients treated at University of Louisville Trauma Center from January 2016 to December 2016 were studied. Activation via ABC score was assessed retrospectively from emergency department (ED) data. Location, timing of activation, percent of patients using more than 5 units of packed red blood cells, amount of product waste, factors associated with early activation by physicians, and mortality were analyzed.

RESULTS

Three thousand four hundred twenty-one patients were included in this study. Only 33% of the patients who would have had MTP activation based on the ABC criteria used more than 5 units of blood products within 24 hours of admission compared with 65% of the patients in whom clinical judgment was used. Seventy-six percent of all MTP activations from clinical judgment would have been activated by the ABC criteria in the ED. Fifty-five percent of all MTP activations via clinical judgment were activated in the operating room and 41% in the ED. Eighty-one percent of activations that occurred in the operating room by physician judgment could have been activated earlier in the ED if the ABC criteria had been used. However, ABC score can lead to higher potential fresh frozen plasma waste (588 vs. 84 units) compared with physician judgment.

CONCLUSIONS

The ABC criteria overestimate need for massive transfusion and can lead to increased product waste compared with physician judgment, but its use leads to earlier MTP activation. Criteria to trigger MT activation should rely on both clinical acumen and validated prediction tools.

LEVEL OF EVIDENCE

Prognostic, level III.

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