BACKGROUND: Iron deficiency anemia in adults is most frequently due to chronic blood loss. When the clinical course is complicated by sudden, severe declines in Hb concentration, the cause, nature, and lo- cation of bleeding may require an extensive clinical evaluation. CASE REPORT: A 39-year-old woman was admitted for management of refractory hypoparathyroidism related to total thyroidectomy for Graves' disease. Two weeks before admission, her Hb level was 7.0 g per dL. Despite transfusion with four units of RBCs during this interval, her admission Hb level was 5.7 g per dL. There was no evidence of blood loss or hemolysis. Laboratory values were consistent with an iron-deficient state. The patient's hospital course included repeated instances of sharp Hb drop and appropriate but unsustained response to RBC transfusion. Extensive work-up identified no occult source of bleeding. Clinical suspicion raised the possibility of self-inflicted blood loss. The patient subsequently admitted to repeatedly drawing blood from her indwelling catheter and discarding it in the lavatory. CONCLUSION: Munchausen syndrome should be considered in cases of unexplained anemia, especially in the target demographic group: young, female, healthcare professionals. Early diagnosis may prevent morbidity, multiple hospitalizations, and the risk of invasive diagnostic procedures.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy