Research Article

Use of blood in elective general surgery: an area of wasted resources.

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1983; 286 doi: (Published 12 March 1983) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1983;286:868
  1. J A Smallwood


    A prospective audit of the blood bank was carried out in Portsmouth to examine how efficiently blood was used in elective general surgery. The routine crossmatching of blood was found to be unnecessary for certain procedures such as cholecystectomy, thyroidectomy, mastectomy, and vagotomy. The most efficient use of blood was seen in vascular surgery despite the greater risk of severe haemorrhage. Completed detailed questionnaires returned by members of surgical teams in Wessex supported the Portsmouth data as being fairly typical and confirmed that substantial and unintentional overordering occurred, apparently due to poor communication, lack of discussion, and "force of habit." The place of a "half hour crossmatch" as a substitute for many routine orders has been explored and seems to be acceptable to most anaesthetists and surgeons. This study, by showing how inefficiently blood is used, has underlined the value of local audit. It also supports the general experience of centres throughout the world who have invoked similar methods and achieved considerable savings without harm to patients.