An urgent review of transfusion policies is needed in the UK, according to a new study.
More than 200 hospitals were examined by the University of Nottingham Medical School, which found that patients admitted with acute upper gastrointestinal bleeding (AUGIB) were more than twice as likely to suffer further bleeding if they received a red blood cell transfusion within 12 hours.
Death rates were more than 25% higher in patients who had received transfusions within that timescale, it found.
Patients who showed signs of haemodynamic instability had a lower initial haemoglobin level and, when endoscoped, were found to have peptic ulcers, dilated veins in the oesophagus or major signs of recent bleeding, so were more likely to receive early transfusions.
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