Very high users of platelet transfusions in the neonatal intensive care unit

Robert D. Christensen, M. Lynn Dohner, Susan E. Wiedmeier, Ronald A. Stoddard, Donald Null, Diane K. Lambert, Jill Burnett, Vickie L. Baer, Joshua C. Hunt, Erick Henry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Background: In neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) practice, a small percentage of the patients receive a large proportion of the platelet (PLT) transfusions administered. This study sought to better define this very-high-user group. To accomplish this, records of all NICU patients in a multihospital health care system who, during a recent 5/12-year period, received 20 or more PLT transfusions were examined. Study Design and Methods: Electronic medical record repositories of Intermountain Healthcare neonates with dates of birth from January 1, 2002, through June 30, 2007, who received 20 or more PLT transfusions were identified. The causes of the thrombocytopenia were sought, whether each transfusion given was a treatment for bleeding versus prophylaxis was determined, whether each transfusion was compliant with our transfusion guidelines was judged, and the outcomes were tabulated. Results: During this period, 45 patients received 20 or more PLT transfusions (median, 29; range, 20-79). Medical conditions could be categorized into six diagnoses: 1) extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) for congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH; n = 13), 2) fungal sepsis (n = 8), 3) ECMO for reasons other than CDH (n = 8), 4) necrotizing enterocolitis (n = 7), 5) bacterial sepsis (n = 7), and 6) congenital hyporegenerative thrombocytopenia (n = 2). Nineteen percent of the transfusions were ordered for oozing, bruising, or bleeding and 81 percent for prophylaxis. Thirty-six percent of transfusions were given in violation of our transfusion guidelines. Forty-nine percent of the high users died, but no deaths were due to hemorrhage. All survivors developed chronic lung disease, and all survivors weighing less than 1250 g at birth developed retinopathy of prematurity. CONCLUSIONS: Almost all patients that received 20 or more PLT transfusions had an acquired, consumptive thrombocytopenia. All could have received fewer transfusions had the guidelines already in place been observed. Eighty-one percent fewer PLT transfusions would have been administered had the paradigm been transfusing only if oozing, bruising, or bleeding was present.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)869-872
Number of pages4
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2009
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology
  • Immunology
  • Immunology and Allergy


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