Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

Emergency Physician Estimation of Blood Loss


Introduction: Emergency physicians (EP) frequently estimate blood loss, which can have implications for clinical care. The objectives of this study were to examine EP accuracy in estimating blood loss on different surfaces and compare attending physician and resident performance.

Methods: A sample of 56 emergency department (ED) physicians (30 attending physicians and 26 residents) were asked to estimate the amount of moulage blood present in 4 scenarios: 500 mL spilled onto an ED cot; 25 mL spilled onto a 10-pack of 434-inch gauze; 100 mL on a T-shirt; and 150 mL in a commode filled with water. Standard estimate error (the absolute value of (estimated volume actual volume)/actual volume3100) was calculated for each estimate.

Results: The mean standard error for all estimates was 116% with a range of 0% to 1233%. Only 8% of estimates were within 20% of the true value. Estimates were most accurate for the sheet scenario andworst for the commode scenario. Residents and attending physicians did not perform significantly differently (P . 0.05).

Conclusion: Emergency department physicians do not estimate blood loss well in a variety of scenarios. Such estimates could potentially be misleading if used in clinical decision making. Clinical experience does not appear to improve estimation ability in this limited study. [West J Emerg Med. 2012;13(4):376–379.]


Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View