Clinical Pathology

Application of Standardized Residual Component Culture Criteria for Suspected Septic Transfusion Reactions Would Increase the Component Culturing Rate at a Single Academic Medical Center



The 2019 SCARED study developed the Biomedical Excellence for Safer Transfusion (BEST) criteria in an effort to standardize the decision to culture residual units in the context of suspected septic transfusion reactions (STRs). The goal of this study was to apply the BEST criteria to determine the effect on the transfusion reaction decision to culture.


This retrospective, single-center, cross-sectional study assessed adult transfusion reactions identified in calendar years 2013 to 2020. Reactions following transfusion of RBCs, platelets, and plasma were included, and the decisions to culture following strict application of BEST criteria were compared with decisions to culture in actual practice.


In total, 1,068 transfusion reactions were reported and 200 (19%) suspected STRs were cultured, all with negative results; 303 (28%) reactions would have been cultured per strict application of the BEST criteria. Concordance between actual culture decision and BEST criteria recommendation was 62% for cultured components and 79% for components that were not cultured.


BEST criteria provide objective recommendations of when to culture residual units implicated in suspected STRs, but strict application of these criteria may result in increased culture rates. Clinical correlation to aid in the decision to culture is recommended.

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