Aims Premature infants frequently require multiple red blood cell (RBC) transfusions. The practice of splitting a single adult unit into satellite packs has been widely adopted to reduce the risks of multiple donor exposures. Our unit policy is to request satellite packs for all infants born at 28 completed weeks gestation or whose birthweight is 1000 g or less. A RBC transfusion form was introduced to promote awareness of the unit guidelines. It highlights the need to inform laboratory staff for satellite packs and keeps track of the number of satellite packs available for use.
Methods Infants born at 28 completed weeks gestation or less between January to December 2011 who received RBC transfusions were evaluated. Data collection was achieved via medical records, laboratory transfusion records, electronic transfusion requests and discharge letters (BadgerNet). The total transfusion numbers, donor exposures numbers and the mean number of satellite packs used from a single donor for each infant was examined. Infants who had completed transfusion forms and those who did not were compared.
Results 82 babies were eligible for the study. Notes for 50 infants were reviewed. 6 infants did not require transfusion. No transfusion data was available for 1 infant. Therefore the total number of babies included in this study is 43. 60% (n = 26) of infants had RBC forms included in their notes.
Conclusion Infants with RBC forms were more likely to have a greater number of transfusions. Despite receiving more transfusions, donor exposure was not significantly increased. There was also a non significant trend towards utilising more satellite packs from each donor unit in infants with RBC forms. The numbers in this study are small and a larger study would be required to verify these findings.