Management and clinical outcomes for patients with gastrointestinal bleeding who decline transfusion

Jessica O. Asiedu, Ananda J. Thomas, Nicolas C. Cruz, Ryan Nicholson, Linda M.S. Resar, Mouen Khashab, Steven M. Frank

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background The national blood shortage and growing patient population who decline blood transfusions have created the need for bloodless medicine initiatives. This case series describes the management of gastrointestinal bleed patients who declined allogeneic blood transfusion. Understanding the effectiveness of bloodless techniques may improve treatment for future patients while avoiding the risks and cost associated with transfusion. Study design and methods A retrospective chart review identified 30 inpatient encounters admitted between 2016 to 2022 for gastrointestinal hemorrhage who declined transfusion due to religious or personal reasons. Clinical characteristics and patient blood management methods utilized during hospitalization were analyzed. Hemoglobin concentrations and clinical outcomes are reported. Results The most common therapy was intravenous iron (n = 25, 83.3%), followed by erythropoietin (n = 18, 60.0%). Endoscopy was the most common procedure performed (n = 23, 76.7%), and surgical intervention was less common (n = 4, 13.3%). Pre-procedure hemoglobin was <6 g/dL in 7 patients, and <5 g/dL in 4 patients. The median nadir hemoglobin was 5.6 (IQR 4.5, 7.0) g/dL, which increased post-treatment to 7.3 (IQR 6.2, 8.4) g/dL upon discharge. One patient (3.3%) with a nadir Hb of 3.7 g/dL died during hospitalization from sepsis. Nine other patients with nadir Hb <5 g/dL survived hospitalization. Conclusions Gastrointestinal bleed patients can be successfully managed with optimal bloodless medicine techniques. Even patients with a nadir Hb <5–6 g/dL can be stabilized with aggressive anemia treatment and may safely undergo anesthesia and endoscopy or surgery for diagnostic or therapeutic purposes. Methods used for treating bloodless medicine patients may be used to improve clinical care for all patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0290351
JournalPloS one
Issue number8 August
StatePublished - Aug 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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