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Journal of Blood Transfusion
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 629204, 7 pages
Review Article

Anemia and Blood Transfusions in Critically Ill Patients

1Division of Neurocritical Care, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, 3 West Gates Building, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA
2Inova Health System, Falls Church, VA 22042, USA
3Edward D Viner Intensive Care Unit, Cooper University Hospital Camden, Camden, NJ 08103, USA
4Cooper Medical School of Rowan University, Camden, NJ, USA
5Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, Camden, NJ, USA

Received 28 May 2012; Revised 11 September 2012; Accepted 30 September 2012

Academic Editor: Franz F. Wagner

Copyright © 2012 M. Kamran Athar et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Anemia is common in critically ill patients. As a consequence packed red blood cell (PRBC) transfusions are frequent in the critically ill. Over the past two decades a growing body of literature has emerged, linking PRBC transfusion to infections, immunosuppression, organ dysfunction, and a higher mortality rate. However, despite growing evidence that risk of PRBC transfusion outweighs its benefit, significant numbers of critically ill patients still receive PRBC transfusion during their intensive care unit (ICU) stay. In this paper, we summarize the current literature concerning the impact of anemia on outcomes in critically ill patients and the potential complications of PRBC transfusions.