Red blood cell (RBC) transfusion is common in surgical patients, yet optimal transfusion targets are incompletely defined in the perioperative period. Hemoglobin levels at the time of hospital discharge may provide insight into transfusion practices, anemia management, and patient outcomes.
This is an observational cohort study of adults receiving RBC transfusion during noncardiac surgery from 2010 to 2014. Multivariable regression was used to assess the relationships between hospital discharge hemoglobin concentrations, anemia severity (severe: <8 g/dL; moderate: 8-10 g/dL; mild/none: ≥10 g/dL), and clinical outcomes, including a primary outcome of 30-day hospital readmission and secondary outcomes of posthospitalization RBC transfusion, composite stroke or myocardial infarction, and mortality.
A total of 3129 patients were included: 165 (5%) with severe discharge anemia, 1962 (63%) moderate, and 1002 (32%) with mild/none. Five hundred ninety-two (19%) were readmitted, with the highest rates observed with severe anemia (26% vs 19% for mild/none). Readmissions were not significantly different after multivariable adjustment (overall P = .216); however, in those receiving postoperative intensive care, severe anemia was associated with increased readmission rates (hazard ratio [HR], 1.72; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.09-2.71; reference mild/none]. Posthospitalization RBC transfusion rates were highest with severe anemia (25% vs 10% for mild/none; adjusted HR, 2.2; 95% CI, 1.5-3.3; P < .001). There were no significant differences in composite stroke/myocardial infarction, or mortality. RBC transfusion volumes did not modify anemia-outcome relationships.
Hospital discharge hemoglobin values for transfused surgical patients were not associated with hospital readmission rates except for those receiving postoperative intensive care. Further evaluation is warranted to understand downstream consequences of postsurgical anemia.
© 2020 AABB.