[Skip to Content]
[Skip to Content Landing]
November 23, 1984

Should Donor Blood Be Screened for Elevated Alanine Aminotransferase Levels?A Cost-effectiveness Analysis

Author Affiliations

From the General Internal Medicine and Medical Practices Evaluation Units (Dr Mulley) and the Gastrointestinal Unit (Dr Dienstag), Massachusetts General Hospital, the Department of Medicine, Harvard Medical School (Drs Mulley and Dienstag), Boston; and the Section of General Internal Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Chicago (Dr Silverstein).

JAMA. 1984;252(20):2839-2845. doi:10.1001/jama.1984.03350200025015

We examined the cost-effectiveness of alanine aminotransferase (ALT) screening of donor blood to prevent non-A, non-B posttransfusion hepatitis. Based on estimated costs of ALT screening, blood replacement, and medical evaluation of donors with high ALT levels, we concluded that screening at an ALT level of 45 IU would cost $3.82 per unit. In a population requiring an average of 3.7 units per transfusion, one case of hepatitis would be prevented for every 115 units screened, resulting in a cost of $439 per case prevented. With an estimated direct medical cost of $1,181 per case of non-A, non-B hepatitis, expected net savings for each case prevented would be $742. Screening at other ALT thresholds would be less cost-saving. Sensitivity analyses indicate that screening would be cost-saving for a wide range of cost estimates and number of units per transfusion. Alanine aminotransferase screening is warranted until more sensitive and specific screening tests for transmissibility of non-A, non-B hepatitis become available.

(JAMA 1984;252:2839-2845)