Hemostasis Checklist Reduces Bleeding and Blood Product Consumption After Cardiac Surgery

Ann Thorac Surg. 2021 May;111(5):1570-1577

Background

Considerable mediastinal bleeding is a recognized complication after cardiac surgery and may require reexploration and blood product transfusion, both of which are associated with inferior clinical outcomes with greater morbidity and mortality. The aim of this study was to develop a hemostasis checklist, with the intention of reducing mediastinal bleeding after cardiac surgery.

Methods

A hemostasis checklist was developed with multidisciplinary collaboration. It contains 2 components: a series of surgical sites and factors affecting coagulation status. The checklist is performed at a time-out before sternal wire insertion. Analysis compared outcomes for patients undergoing cardiac surgery in the 1 year before and 2 years after implementation.

Results

A total of 5542 patients underwent surgery during the study. After we implemented the checklist, there was a significant reduction in the reexploration rate (3.5% versus 1.9%; P < .001) and the proportion of patients bleeding greater than 1 L in 12 hours (6.1% versus 2.8%; P < .001). There was a major reduction in consumption of blood products, saving $430,513. There was progressive improvement in the second year after implementation. Checklist implementation was also associated with reduced intensive care unit and hospital length of stay, adding to the financial benefit.

Conclusions

Implementation of a simple and quickly performed hemostasis checklist has had a sustained impact over the 2 years after implementation, reducing the incidence of noteworthy mediastinal bleeding and reexploration, which has resulted in a major reduction in blood product consumption. Together, these have resulted in an associated reduction in intensive care unit and hospital length of stay, and a considerable financial savings. This highlights that perioperative bleeding is a preventable complication.