Conference Coverage

Rapid bacterial testing of platelets saves money, reduces waste



BOSTON – Rapid bacterial testing of platelets in a hospital blood bank can result in both significant cost savings and reduced wastage of blood products, investigators said.

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Rapid bacterial testing of 6- or 7-day-old apheresis platelets resulted in projected annual cost savings of nearly $89,000 per year and cut the rate of platelet wastage from expiration by more than half, reported Adam L. Booth, MD, chief resident in the department of pathology at the University of Texas, Galveston, and his colleagues.

“When a person takes all this time to come in and donate, they do it under the impression that they’re going to help somebody, or several people, and you hate to see those platelets wasted. You want them to be used,” he said in an interview at AABB 2018, the annual meeting of the group formerly known as the American Association of Blood Banks.

Platelets typically have a shelf life of just 5 days because longer storage increases the risk for bacterial growth and the potential for transfusion-transmitted infections, Dr. Booth and his colleagues noted in a poster presentation.

A recently published Food and Drug Administration draft guidance for blood banks and transfusion services proposed changing regulations regarding bacterial control of blood products to allow for extended dating if the platelets are collected in an FDA-approved 7-day storage container with labeling that requires testing every product with a bacterial detection device, or if the platelets are individually tested for bacterial detection using an approved device.

To see what effect the regulations, if implemented as expected, might have on acquisition costs and wastage of apheresis platelets, the investigators reviewed their center’s platelet acquisition costs and wastage from expiration 12 months before and 6 months after implementation of a rapid bacterial testing protocol, with 6-month results projected out to 1 year for comparison purposes.

They looked at data on bacterial testing of 6-day and 7-day-old apheresis platelets, and excluded data on platelet units that were due to expire on day 5 because they were not stored in FDA-approved containers.

Prior to testing, 332 units at a mean per-unit cost of $516.96 were wasted, for an annual cost of more than $171,000. After the start of testing, however, the annualized rate of waste dropped to 117 units, for an annualized cost of more than $60,000. The difference – minus the cost of rapid bacterial testing – resulted in an annual savings for the institution of nearly $89,000.

Prior to rapid testing, the annual wastage rate was 24%; after testing, it dropped to an annualized 10% rate, the investigators reported.

The number of units transfused and the associated costs of transfusions were similar between the time periods studied.

“Our findings suggest that rapid bacterial testing can simultaneously enhance the safety of apheresis platelet transfusions and contribute to significant cost savings,” Dr. Booth and his colleagues wrote.

The study was internally funded. The authors reported having no conflicts of interest.

SOURCE: Booth AL et al. AABB18, Abstract INV4.

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