Risk-Based Antenatal Type-and-Screen Blood Testing Safe

Diana Swift

October 27, 2021

Implementing a selective type-and-screen blood testing policy in the labor and delivery unit was associated with projected annual savings of close to $200,000, a large single-center study found. Furthermore, there was no evidence of increased maternal morbidity in the university-based facility performing more than 4,400 deliveries per year, according to Ashley E. Benson, MD, MA, of the department of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Utah, Salt Lake City, and colleagues.

The study, published in Obstetrics & Gynecology, evaluated patient safety, resource utilization, and transfusion-related costs after a policy change from universal type and screen to selective, risk-based type and screen on admission to labor and delivery.

"There had been some national interest in moving toward decreased resource utilization, and findings that universal screening was not cost effective," Benson, who has since relocated to Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, said in an interview. An earlier cost-effective modeling study at her center had suggested that universal test and screen was not cost effective and likely not safer either. "So based on that data we felt an implementation study was warranted."

The switch to a selective policy was made in 2018, after which her group compared outcomes from October 2017 to September 2019, looking those both 1 year preimplementation and 1 year post implementation.

One year post implementation, the following outcomes emerged, compared with preimplementation:

  • Overall projected saving of $181,000 a year in the maternity unit

  • Lower mean monthly type- and screen-related costs, such as those for ABO typing, antibody screen, and antibody workup. cross-matches, hold clots, and transfused products: $9,753 vs. $20,676 in the preimplementation year (P < .001)

  • A lower mean monthly cost of total transfusion preparedness: $25,090 vs. $39,211 (P < .001)

  • No differences in emergency-release transfusion events (four vs. three, P = .99),the study's primary safety outcome

  • Fewer emergency-release red blood cell units transfused (9 vs. 24, P = .002) and O-negative RBC units transfused (8 vs. 18, P = .016)

  • No differences in hysterectomies (0.05% vs. 0.1%, P = .44) and ICU admissions (0.45% vs. 0.51%, P = .43)

"In a year of selective type and screen, we saw a 51% reduction in costs related to type and screen, and a 38% reduction in overall transfusion-related costs," the authors wrote. "This study supports other literature suggesting that more judicious use of type and screen may be safe and cost effective."

Benson said the results were positively received when presented a meeting 2 years ago but the published version has yet to prompt feedback.

The Study

Antepartum patients underwent transfusion preparedness tests according to the center's standard antenatal admission order sets and were risk stratified in alignment with California Maternal Quality Care Collaborative recommendations. The mean maternal age of patients in both time periods was similar at just over 29 years and the mean gestational age at delivery was just under 38 weeks.

Under the new policy, a "hold clot" is obtained for women stratified as low or medium risk on admission. In this instance, a tube of patient blood is held in the blood bank but processed only if needed, as in the event of active hemorrhage or an order for transfusion. A blood cross-match is obtained on all women stratified as high risk or having a prior positive antibody screen.

Relevant costs were the direct costs of transfusion-related testing in the labor and delivery unit from a health system perspective.

Obstetric hemorrhage is the leading cause of maternal death worldwide, the authors pointed out. While transfusion in obstetric patients occurs in only 1% or 2% of all deliveries it is nevertheless difficult to predict which patients will need transfusion, with only 2%-8% of those stratified as high risk ultimately requiring transfusion. Although obstetric hemorrhage safety bundles recommend risk stratification on admission to labor and delivery with selective type and screen for higher-risk individuals, for safety and simplicity's sake, many labor and delivery units perform universal type and screen.

The authors cautioned that these results occurred in an academic tertiary care center with systems fine-tuned to deal with active hemorrhage and deliver timely transfusable blood. "At the moment we don't have enough data to say whether the selective approach would be safe in hospitals with more limited blood bank capacity and access and fewer transfusion specialists in a setting optimized to respond to emergent needs, Benson said.

Katayoun F. M. Fomani, MD, a transfusion medicine specialist and medical director of blood bank and transfusion services at Long Island Jewish Medical Center, New York, agreed. "This approach only works in a controlled environment such as in this study where eligible women were assessed antenatally at the same center, but it would not work at every institution," she said in an interview. "In addition, all patients were assessed according to the California Collaborative guideline, which itself increases the safety level but is not followed everywhere."

The obstetric division at her hospital in New York adheres to the universal type and screen. "We have patients coming in from outside whose antenatal testing was not done at our hospital," she said. "For this selective approach to work you need a controlled population and the electronic resources and personnel to follow each patient carefully."

The authors indicated no specific funding for this study and disclosed no potential conflicts of interest. Fomani had no potential competing interests to declare.

This article originally appeared on MDedge.com, part of the Medscape Professional Network.

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