Between 2% and 8% of patients return to the theatre for mediastinal bleeding following cardiac surgery. In the majority of patients, a surgical source of bleeding is identified. Both mediastinal bleeding and re-exploration are associated with increased morbidity and mortality and the use of blood products. The aim of this study was to develop a ‘haemostasis checklist’ with the intention of reducing mediastinal bleeding and re-exploration following cardiac surgery.
The Papworth haemostasis checklist was developed with a multidisciplinary collaboration. It consists of 2 components: surgical sites and coagulation status. The checklist is completed at a ‘time-out’ prior to sternal wire insertion. The analysis compared the outcomes of patients undergoing cardiac surgery in the 1 year before and after implementation. A propensity analysis assessed the impact of re-exploration on outcomes.
Three thousand eight hundred and eleven patients underwent cardiac surgery during the study period. Re-exploration for bleeding was associated with inferior outcomes. Following checklist implementation, there was a significant reduction in the re-exploration rate (3.47% vs 2.08%, P = 0.01) and proportion of patients bleeding >1 l in 12 h (6.1% vs 3.49%, P < 0.001). There was a significant reduction in consumption of blood products saving £102 165 ($134 198). The checklist implementation was associated with reduced intensive care unit length of stay and hospital length of stay, adding to the financial benefit.
The haemostasis checklist represents a simple intervention which is quick and easy to use but has had a substantial impact on clinical outcomes. We have observed a significant reduction in the mediastinal blood loss, return-to-theatre rate and consumption of blood products, which is associated with a significant clinical and financial benefit.