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Electronic health record surveillance algorithms facilitate the detection of transfusion‐related pulmonary complications



Transfusion-related acute lung injury (TRALI) and transfusion-associated circulatory overload (TACO) are leading causes of transfusion-related mortality. Notably, poor syndrome recognition and underreporting likely result in an underestimate of their true attributable burden. We aimed to develop accurate electronic health record-based screening algorithms for improved detection of TRALI/transfused acute lung injury (ALI) and TACO.

Study design and methods

This was a retrospective observational study. The study cohort, identified from a previous National Institutes of Health-sponsored prospective investigation, included 223 transfused patients with TRALI, transfused ALI, TACO, or complication-free controls. Optimal case detection algorithms were identified using classification and regression tree (CART) analyses. Algorithm performance was evaluated with sensitivities, specificities, likelihood ratios, and overall misclassification rates.


For TRALI/transfused ALI detection, CART analysis achieved a sensitivity and specificity of 83.9% (95% confidence interval [CI], 74.4%-90.4%) and 89.7% (95% CI, 80.3%-95.2%), respectively. For TACO, the sensitivity and specificity were 86.5% (95% CI, 73.6%-94.0%) and 92.3% (95% CI, 83.4%-96.8%), respectively. Reduced PaO2 /FiO2 ratios and the acquisition of posttransfusion chest radiographs were the primary determinants of case versus control status for both syndromes. Of true-positive cases identified using the screening algorithms (TRALI/transfused ALI, n = 78; TACO, n = 45), only 11 (14.1%) and five (11.1%) were reported to the blood bank by physicians, respectively.


Electronic screening algorithms have shown good sensitivity and specificity for identifying patients with TRALI/transfused ALI and TACO at our institution. This supports the notion that active electronic surveillance may improve case identification, thereby providing a more accurate understanding of TRALI/transfused ALI and TACO epidemiology.

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