Objectives: To date, there are no published guidelines to direct RBC transfusion decision-making specifically for critically ill children. We present the recommendations from the Pediatric Critical Care Transfusion and Anemia Expertise Initiative.
Design: Consensus conference series of multidisciplinary, international experts in RBC transfusion management of critically ill children.
Setting: Not applicable.
Subjects: Children with, or children at risk for, critical illness who receive or are at risk for receiving a RBC transfusion.
Methods: A panel of 38 content and four methodology experts met over the course of 2 years to develop evidence-based, and when evidence lacking, expert consensus-based recommendations regarding decision-making for RBC transfusion management and research priorities for transfusion in critically ill children. The experts focused on nine specific populations of critically ill children: general, respiratory failure, nonhemorrhagic shock, nonlife-threatening bleeding or hemorrhagic shock, acute brain injury, acquired/congenital heart disease, sickle cell/oncology/transplant, extracorporeal membrane oxygenation/ventricular assist/ renal replacement support, and alternative processing. Data to formulate evidence-based and expert consensus recommendations were selected based on searches of PubMed, EMBASE, and Cochrane Library from 1980 to May 2017. Agreement was obtained using the Research and Development/UCLA Appropriateness Method. Results were summarized using the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development, and Evaluation method.
Measurements and results: The Transfusion and Anemia Expertise Initiative consensus conference developed and reached consensus on a total of 102 recommendations (57 clinical [20 evidence based, 37 expert consensus], 45 research recommendations). All final recommendations met agreement, defined a priori as greater than 80%. A decision tree to aid clinicians was created based on the clinical recommendations.
Conclusions: The Transfusion and Anemia Expertise Initiative recommendations provide important clinical guidance and applicable tools to avoid unnecessary RBC transfusions. Research recommendations identify areas of focus for future investigation to improve outcomes and safety for RBC transfusion.