Screening for anemia in Red Cross blood donor clinics

Eric Mintz, The University of Texas School of Public Health


Accurate screening for anemia at Red Cross blood donor clinics is essential to maintain a safe national blood supply. Despite the importance of identifying anemia correctly by measurement of hemoglobin or hematocrit (hemoglobin/hematocrit) there is no consensus regarding the efficacy of the current two stage screening method which uses the Readacrit$\sp{\rm tm}$ microhematocrit in conjunction with copper sulfate. A cross-sectional study was implemented in which hemoglobin/hematocrit was measured, with the present method and four new devices, on 504 prospective blood donors at a Canadian Red Cross permanent blood donor clinic in London, Canada. Concurrently gathered, venous and capillary blood samples were tested by each device and compared to Coulter S IV$\sp{\rm tm}$ determined venous standard readings. Instrument hemoglobin/hematocrit means were statistically calibrated to the standard ones in order to appraise systematic deviations from the standard. Classification analysis was employed to assess concordance between each instrument and the standard when classifying prospective donors as anemic or non-anemic. This was done both when each instrument was used alone (single stage) and when copper sulfate was used as a preliminary screen (two stage) and simulated over a range of anemia prevalences. The Hemoximeter$\sp{\rm tm}$ and Compur M1000$\sp{\rm tm}$ devices had the highest correlations of hemoglobin measurements with the standard ones for both capillary (n.s.) and venous blood (p $<$.05). Analysis of variance (anova) also showed them to be the most accurate (p $<$.05), as did both single and two stage classification analysis, therefore, they are both recommended. There was a smaller difference between instruments for two stage than for single stage screening; therefore instrument choice is less crucial for the former. The present method was adequate for two stage screening as tested but simulations showed that it would discriminate poorly in populations with a higher prevalence of anemia. The Stat-crit and Readacrit, which measure hematocrit, became less accurate at crucial low hematocrit levels. In light of this finding and the introduction of new, effective and easy to use hemoglobin measuring instruments, the continued use of hematocrit as a surrogate for hemoglobin, is not recommended.

Subject Area

Public health|Analytical chemistry

Recommended Citation

Mintz, Eric, "Screening for anemia in Red Cross blood donor clinics" (1988). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI9020182.