Incorporating the entity of under-transfusion into hemovigilance monitoring: Documenting cases due to lack of inventory

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Background: Under-transfusion is an underreported entity within most hospitals and hemovigilance systems. While critical blood shortages are being reported more frequently, without incident codes to document instances of under-transfusion due to lack of inventory, estimating its impact on patient care as it relates to hemotherapy (HT) has hampered our ability to assess and inform strategic initiatives to combat inventory issues as well as prepare for future blood supply threats.

Study design and method: An 11-member working group of the AABB (Association for the Advancement of Blood and Biotherapies) Hemovigilance Committee was formed in October 2020 to study the topic of under-transfusion including its potential causes and clinical expressions. The group was also charged with proposing simple definition/incident codes to be used by hemovigilance systems to document such instances.

Results: The working group proposed four simple incident codes under the new process code-No Blood (NB)-that can be used by hemovigilance systems to appropriately document instances of under-transfusion due to lack of inventory. The codes were described as: (1) NB 01-Inventory less than usual level due to supplier shortage; (2) NB 02-Demand for blood product exceeding usual inventory levels; (3) NB 03-Substitution with incompatible/inappropriate units; and (4) NB 04-Suboptimal dose/no transfusion given.

Conclusion: The adoption of these codes within hemovigilance systems globally would assist in recognition and reporting instances of under-transfusion due to inventory, thus supporting development of better collection strategies, inventory management techniques as well as effective policies to improve blood safety and availability.

Keywords: blood center operations; blood management; transfusion service operations.