The Prospective Evaluation of the Net Effect of Red Blood Cell Transfusions in Routine Provision of Palliative Care.
To, Timothy HM
Agar, Meera Ruth
To, Luen Bik
Rowett, Debra Sharon
Currow, David Christopher
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Background Red Blood Cell (RBC) transfusions are commonly used in palliative care. RBCs are a finite resource, transfusions carry risks, and the net effect (benefits and harms) is poorly defined for people with life-limiting illnesses. Aim The aim of this study was to examine the indications and the effects of RBC transfusion in palliative care patients. Design This international, multisite, prospective consecutive cohort study assessed target symptoms (fatigue, breathlessness, generalised weakness, or dizziness) prior to transfusion and at day 7 by treating clinicians, using National Cancer Institute Common Terminology Criteria for Adverse Events. Assessment of harms was made at day 2. Setting/participants One-hundred and one transfusions with day 7 followup were collected. Median age was 72·0 (IQR 61·5-83·0) years, 58% male, and mean Australian-modified Karnofsky Performance Status of 48 (SD 17). Results A mean 2·1 (SD 0·6) units was transfused. The target symptom was fatigue (61%), breathlessness (16%), generalized weakness (12%), dizziness (6%) or other (5%). Forty-nine percent of transfusions improved the primary target symptom, and 78% of transfusions improved at least one of the target symptoms. Harms were infrequent and mild. An AKPS of 40-50% was associated with higher chances of symptomatic benefit in the target symptom, however no other predictors of response were identified. Conclusions In the largest prospective consecutive case series to date, clinicians generally reported benefit, with minimal harms. Ongoing work is required to define the optimal patient- and clinician-reported haematological and functional outcome measures to optimise the use of donor blood and minimise transfusion-associated risk.
"Final publication is available from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers http://dx.doi.org/10.1089/jpm.2017.0072” This author accepted manuscript is made available following 12 month embargo from date of publication (June 2017) in accordance with the publisher’s archiving policy