To address the potential role of innovative blood conservation interventions in nonelective surgery, we reviewed blood transfusions and blood losses during hospitalization of patients undergoing open reduction internal fixation of an intratrochanteric hip fracture. Sixty-four orthopaedic patients consecutively admitted over a 3-year interval were analyzed for transfusion needs by calculating red blood cell (RBC) volume lost during hospitalization. Overall, 39 (61%) patients received blood. We found that the "transfusion-trigger" was higher for females compared to males. Fifteen (23%) of 64 patients were identified to have been transfused with RBC volumes in excess of RBC volumes lost. The remaining 49 patients determined to be untransfused or to be transfused appropriately received 1.4 +/- 2.1 blood units (M +/- SD). Of these, 30 (60%) received < or = 1 U. We found no evidence that patients who received blood transfusions in excess of blood losses benefited compared to those whose blood replacement was less than blood lost. We conclude that innovative blood conservation interventions such as recombinant human erythropoietin (EPO) therapy can be incorporated into this nonelective surgical setting and may permit a significant percentage of hip fracture patients to avoid homologous blood transfusion. An algorithm for physician education programs that can address blood transfusion practices is provided so that patients can benefit from new blood conservation approaches.
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