The observation of bleeding complications in haemato-oncological patients: stringent watching, relevant reporting

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The reported percentage of haemato-oncological patients experiencing bleeding complications is highly variable, ranging from 5 to 70%, posing a major problem for comparison of clinical platelet transfusion trials using bleeding complications as a primary endpoint. In a pilot study we assessed the impact of the design of scoring of bleeding on the percentage of patients with WHO grade 2 or higher bleeding grades.

Study design and methods:

We performed a prospective, observational study using a rigorous bleeding observation system in thrombocytopenic patients with haemato-oncological disorders. Endpoints of the study were the percentage of patients and days with bleeding WHO grade ≥ 2 comparing designs in which skin bleeding represent a continuation of a previous bleed or a new bleed.


In four participating hospitals 64 patients suffering 870 evaluable thrombocytopenic days (platelet count < 80 × 109 L−1) were included. At least one episode of bleeding grade ≥ 2 occurred in 36 patients (56%). Most grade 2 bleeding complications occurred mucocutaneously. The percentage of days with bleeding of grade ≥ 2 was 16% but decreases to 8% when only newly developed skin bleeding was included.


Rigorous daily observation results in a bleeding incidence that is comparable to recent reportings applying the same method. The results of this study show that censoring for stable skin bleeding has a profound effect on bleeding incidence per day. The clinical relevance of rigorous or clinically judged bleeding scores as an endpoint remains to be defined.

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