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Transfus Med Hemother. 2013 Feb;40(1):27-31. doi: 10.1159/000345660. Epub 2013 Jan 3.

Blood Transfusion Policies in Elective General Surgery: How to Optimise Cross-Match-to-Transfusion Ratios.

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Department of Hepatobiliary and Pancreatic Surgery, University Hospitals of Leicester, UK.



Preoperative over-ordering of blood is common and leads to the wastage of blood bank resources. The preoperative blood ordering and transfusion practices for common elective general surgical procedures were evaluated in our university hospital to formulate a maximum surgical blood order schedule (MSBOS) for those procedures where a cross-match appears necessary.


We evaluated blood ordering practices retrospectively in all elective general surgical procedures in our institution over a 6-month period. Cross-match-to-transfusion ratios (C:T) were calculated and compared to current trust and the British Society of Haematology (BSH) guidelines. The adjusted C:T ratio was also calculated and was defined as the C:T ratio when only cross-matched blood used intraoperatively was included in the calculation.


541 patients were identified during the 6-month period. There were 314 minor and 227 major surgeries carried out. 99.6% (n = 226) of the patients who underwent major surgery and 95.5% (n = 300) of the patients having minor surgery had at least a group and save (G and S) test preoperatively. A total of 507 units of blood were cross-matched and 238 units were used. The overall C:T ratio was therefore 2.1:1, which corresponds to a 46.9% red cell usage. There was considerable variation in the C:T ratio, depending on the type of surgery performed. The adjusted C:T ratio varied between 3.75 and 37.


Compliance with transfusion policies is poor and over-ordering of blood products commonplace. Implementation of the updated recommended MSBOS and introduction of G and S for eligible surgical procedures is a safe, effective and cost-effective method to prevent preoperative over-ordering of blood in elective general surgery. Savings of GBP 8,596.00 per annum are achievable with the incorporation of updated evidence-based guidelines in our university hospital.


Cross-match/transfusion ratio; MSBOS; Maximum surgical blood ordering schedule; Surgery; Transfusion

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