Reducing blood transfusions improves patient safety and cuts costs

Oct 07, 2010

A Loyola University Hospital study has demonstrated how the hospital has improved patient safety and cut costs by reducing the number of blood transfusions.

In 2009, the average amount of blood products transfused per patient at Loyola was 10 percent lower than it was in 2008, saving $453,355. The average amount of blood products transfused dropped from 2.03 units per patient in 2008 to 1.82 units per patient in 2009.

Results were reported at the recent annual meeting of the College of American Pathologists.

"We are giving the right blood component, in the right amounts, to the right patient at the right time, with the goal of improving patient care," said Phillip J. DeChristopher, MD, PhD, medical director of Transfusion Medicine, and Apheresis.

DeChristopher is senior author of the study. First author is Omar Habeeb, MD, a fourth-year pathology resident at Loyola.

Blood transfusions save lives, but they also carry risks. Studies during the past 10 years have found that transfusions make patients more susceptible to infections and increase the risks of poor outcomes such as longer hospital stays, cancer recurrences and multi-organ system failures. "The more you transfuse, the higher you put patients at risk for unintended consequences," DeChristopher said.

Transfusions of , platelets, plasma and other blood products were approved decades ago without randomized controlled clinical trials to establish optimal uses. Consequently, doctors sometimes order more transfusions than necessary, DeChristopher said. He noted, for example that the amount of plasma transfused per patient in the United States is two to three times higher than the amounts transfused in Canada and Europe.

Loyola launched a new initiative for blood utilization as part of its Blood Management Program. The program implemented blood-use protocols that included evidence-based indications, educational programs for doctors and nurses and oversight of the Blood Utilization Review Committee.

The initiative resulted in some patients receiving less blood or no blood at all -- without compromising patient care. For example, instead of successively administering two units of blood, a doctor might now instead order one unit and then reassess later to see if a second unit is needed.

"We don't want to expose patients to blood products unless we have to," DeChristopher said.

While patient safety is the primary goal, blood management also can result in significant cost savings. The study documented only the amount saved in purchasing blood. It did not include the larger savings involved in storing, compatibility testing, transfusing blood and treating adverse effects. "The savings we documented are just the tip of the iceberg," DeChristopher said.

Blood management also can help relieve chronic shortages in the blood supply, especially during summers and holiday seasons when donations drop.

"Blood products are a vital community resource, and we need to be good stewards," DeChristopher said. "The less blood we use, the more patients benefit, and the less strain we put on the blood supply."

Explore further: Experts call for higher exam pass marks to close performance gap between international and UK medical graduates

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

'Old blood' linked to infection

Oct 28, 2008

Blood stored for 29 days or more, nearly 2 weeks less than the current standard for blood storage, is associated with a higher infection rate in patients who received transfusions with the blood. In a new study presented ...

Transfusion expert urges wider use of filtered blood

Apr 03, 2007

Filtering white cells from donor blood before a transfusion is much safer for patients and long overdue as a national standard for all surgical procedures, according to University of Rochester researchers who present their ...

Recommended for you

Obese British man in court fight for surgery

Jul 11, 2011

A British man weighing 22 stone (139 kilograms, 306 pounds) launched a court appeal Monday against a decision to refuse him state-funded obesity surgery because he is not fat enough.

2008 crisis spurred rise in suicides in Europe

Jul 08, 2011

The financial crisis that began to hit Europe in mid-2008 reversed a steady, years-long fall in suicides among people of working age, according to a letter published on Friday by The Lancet.

New food labels dished up to keep Europe healthy

Jul 06, 2011

A groundbreaking deal on compulsory new food labels Wednesday is set to give Europeans clear information on the nutritional and energy content of products, as well as country of origin.

Overweight men have poorer sperm count

Jul 04, 2011

Overweight or obese men, like their female counterparts, have a lower chance of becoming a parent, according to a comparison of sperm quality presented at a European fertility meeting Monday.

User comments : 0

More news stories

Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

A Filipino nurse who tested positive for the Middle East virus has been found free of infection in a subsequent examination after he returned home, Philippine health officials said Saturday.

Study says we're over the hill at 24

(Medical Xpress)—It's a hard pill to swallow, but if you're over 24 years of age you've already reached your peak in terms of your cognitive motor performance, according to a new Simon Fraser University study.

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...

Ex-Apple chief plans mobile phone for India

Former Apple chief executive John Sculley, whose marketing skills helped bring the personal computer to desktops worldwide, says he plans to launch a mobile phone in India to exploit its still largely untapped ...

Egypt archaeologists find ancient writer's tomb

Egypt's minister of antiquities says a team of Spanish archaeologists has discovered two tombs in the southern part of the country, one of them belonging to a writer and containing a trove of artifacts including reed pens ...

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.