Blood Transfusion in Burns: What Do We Do?

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42 Scopus citations


Over 11 million units of blood are transfused yearly in the United States. Although blood transfusion is common in burns, data are lacking on appropriate transfusion thresholds. The purpose of the study was to identify current burn center physician blood transfusion practices. A 30-question survey of blood transfusion practices was developed and sent to burn center directors. The survey assessed demographics, burn experience, and blood transfusion thresholds. Physicians were asked to list factors affecting their blood transfusion thresholds and then to give their blood transfusion threshold for patients based on age and percent burn. The final section presents three case scenarios with alterations in one physiological parameter to assess the effect on transfusion thresholds. A total of 55 of the 180 surveys (31%) were returned. Mean number of burn beds was 15.7 ± 1.4, with 264 ± 25 burn admissions per year. The respondents had been in burn care for 15.9 ± 1. 4 years. Their mean hemoglobin transfusion threshold was 8.12 ± 1.7 g/dl. The most frequent reasons for transfusion were ongoing blood loss (22%), anemia (20%), hypoxia (13%), and cardiac disease (12%). Inhalation injury influenced the decision to transfuse blood in 34%. The hemoglobin level below which respondents would transfuse blood increased with increasing TBSA burn, history of cardiac disease, acute respiratory distress syndrome, and age. Blood transfusion thresholds in burns vary based on burn percentage, age, and presence of cardiac disease. To date, no standard of care exists for blood transfusions in burns. Future prospective studies are needed to determine the appropriate use of blood in burns.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)71-75
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Burn Care and Rehabilitation
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Surgery
  • Nursing(all)
  • Health Professions(all)
  • Emergency Medicine


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