Conference Coverage

Think twice: Choosing Wisely recommendations on testing to avoid in pediatric hematology



– There’s a new Choosing Wisely list in hematology focused specifically on children, with five tests or procedures that experts advise should be avoided, with some exceptions.

The list, which was produced by an expert panel with representatives from the American Society of Hematology and the American Society of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology (ASPHO), includes five tests or procedures that are considered unnecessary. The recommendations were released at the annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology.

The five recommendations are:

  • Don’t perform routine preoperative hemostatic testing in an otherwise healthy child with no prior personal or family history of bleeding.
  • Don’t transfuse platelets in a nonbleeding pediatric patient with a platelet count greater than 10,000/mcL, unless other signs of bleeding are present, or if the patient is set to undergo an invasive procedure.
  • Don’t order thrombophilia testing on children with venous access-associated thrombosis in the absence of a positive family history.
  • Don’t transfuse packed RBCs for iron-deficiency anemia in asymptomatic pediatric patients when there is no evidence of hemodynamic instability or active bleeding.
  • Don’t routinely administer granulocyte colony–stimulating factor (G-CSF) for empiric treatment of pediatric patients with asymptomatic autoimmune neutropenia in the absence of recurrent or severe bacterial and/or fungal infections.

This is the third Choosing Wisely list produced by ASH. The group released the first list in 2013 and the second in 2014. But officials at both ASH and ASPHO have received feedback over the years that there should also be a pediatric-focused list in hematology, said Sarah O’Brien, MD, of Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, and cochair of the expert panel that put together the recommendations.

Hemostatic testing

The panel recommended against preoperative hemostatic screening in healthy children with no personal or family history of excessive bleeding because the test does not effectively predict who will have unexpected surgical bleeding. The testing could instead identify artifacts or disorders unrelated to bleeding risk, such as factor XII deficiency or an infection-associated, transient lupus anticoagulant, according to Veronica H. Flood, MD, of the Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, and a member of the expert panel.

Performing this type of testing also adds cost and stress for families, and often delays surgery.

A look at the current literature reveals that there is little evidence to support coagulation testing in healthy children undergoing surgery. “Despite all this evidence, there remain practitioners who perform such screening on a regular basis,” Dr. Flood said.

For physicians concerned about bleeding risk, Dr. Flood said that existing guidelines support taking a bleeding history in preoperative patients. “This may take a little more time, but in the end will result in better results and less expense.”

Platelet transfusion

The panel recommended against platelet transfusion in nonbleeding pediatric patients with hypoproliferative thrombocytopenia and a platelet count greater than 10,000/mcL. The caveats for this recommendation are that it does not apply if there are other signs or symptoms of bleeding, if the patient is undergoing an invasive procedure, if the patient is aged 1 year or younger, or if the patient has immune-mediated thrombocytopenia, according to Rachel Bercovitz, MD, of the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago and a member of the expert panel.


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