Background - In Italy, as in many developed countries, a decline in blood component (BC) consumption, especially red blood cells (RBC), has been described, but not studied at a national level. We, therefore, designed a nationwide survey to determine the main features of BC recipients and obtain a picture of the clinical use of BC for the first time in Italy, in order to understand BC demands better and identify specific fields in which to apply Patient Blood Management (PBM).
Material and methods - A nationwide survey of all Italian Blood Establishments working as Hospital Blood Banks (HBB) was performed. Data were collected through an online report form recording information on the number and geographic area of the responding HBB, year of birth and sex of the BC recipients, and clinical indications for every unit of RBC, platelets and plasma transfused in a 24-hour period.
Results - On the survey date, 153/237 (64.5%) of the HBB returned 4,356 forms, reporting 7,523 transfusions. The median and mean ages of the recipients were 73 (range, 0–106) and 67.5 years, respectively; 33.0% were >80 years old and 64.9% >65 years old, with no relevant differences between males and females. Overall, 6,309 RBC units were transfused to 3,850 recipients, 66.7% of them for a medical indication and 32.4% for a surgical indication. The commonest medical indication was acquired, non-cancer-related anaemia and more than 30% of the transfusions occurred in the Emergency Department. Five hundred and sixty platelet transfusions were given to 520 recipients, 62.7% of them for prophylaxis and 28.6% for bleeding before or during an invasive procedure or surgery or for thrombocytopenia. One hundred and ninety-four patients received 654 units of plasma, 71.1% of which were for therapeutic purposes in bleeding patients.
Discussion - We collected a picture of blood transfusion epidemiology in Italy. The data suggest that future PBM plans should be focused on medical anaemia especially in the setting of Emergency Departments.
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