Background: Accurate estimation of blood loss (EBL) may be helpful for patient safety during certain operative procedures; however, medical students and residents are rarely instructed in EBL. In a series of two tests, we attempted to reveal any significant improvement in accuracy of EBL after a brief training session.

Methods: Fourteen orthopaedic residents were recruited. Participants estimated the amounts of simulated blood before and after a training session that involved a visual of 110 cm3 of the spilled fluid. Three volumes of 50, 237, and 531 cm3 of simulated blood were spilled on a lap sponge, blanket, and trash bag, creating nine stations total for estimating blood loss.

Results: The EBL for each surface was inaccurate, particularly on the absorbent material (ie, sponge and blanket). Of the 126 initial estimates, a total of 13 (10%) were within 20% of the true value. After a brief training session, a total of 43 estimates (34%) were within 20% of the true value spilled. Individual estimates maintained a wide range in both tests.

Conclusions: Although EBL is a difficult skill to learn, training may result in significant improvement of accuracy. Healthcare professionals should be aware of the complications in estimating blood loss and possible benefits of formal instruction.

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Orthopedics Commons



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