Detection, Evaluation, and Management of Anemia in the Elective Surgical Patient
The prevalence of anemia in elective surgical patients may be as frequent as 75% in certain populations. A national audit demonstrated that 35% of patients scheduled for joint replacement therapy have a hemoglobin <13 g/dL on preadmission testing. Standard practice currently consists of preadmission testing 3 to 7 days before an elective operative procedure, precluding the opportunity to effectively evaluate and manage a patient with unexpected anemia. Therefore, a standardized approach for the detection, evaluation, and management of anemia in the preoperative surgical setting was identified as an unmet medical need. To address this knowledge gap, we convened a panel of physicians to develop a clinical care pathway for anemia management in this setting. Elective surgery patients should receive a hemoglobin (Hgb) determination a minimum of 30 days before the scheduled surgical procedure. Because the identification and evaluation of anemia in this setting will assist in expedited diagnosis and treatment of underlying comorbidities and will improve patient outcomes, unexplained anemia (Hgb <12 g/dL for females and <13 g/dL for males) should cause elective surgery to be deferred until an evaluation can be performed.