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Experts: hospitals can improve care, save health care dollars by cracking down on unnecessary blood transfusions



Experts: hospitals can improve care, save health care dollars by cracking down on unnecessary blood transfusions



Ed Management 25(1): 8-11



Leading health care quality organizations say that blood transfusions are among the most overused treatments. The problem wastes a precious resource as well as health care dollars, continues to stretch what is known to be in short supply in some parts of the country. Part of the problem is continued adherence to an outdated medical practice that calls for transfusions when they are not medically necessary. Also, experts say many guidelines are vague regarding hemoglobin triggers. However, education coupled with IT-driven interventions can help hospitals make dramatic improvements in their blood usage, potentially preserving blood products for patients who really need them. The American Red Cross says that blood use rose by 40% in the United States between 1994 and 2008. Studies show there is wide variation regarding when blood transfusions are called for by practitioners. The latest research suggests hemoglobin thresholds of 7 or 8 grams per deciliter are acceptable, although practitioners often call for transfusions when hemoglobin is at 10 grams per deciliter. Of particular importance to EDs, the lower hemoglobin triggers don't always apply to actively bleeding patients. Through a comprehensive blood conservation program, Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor, ME, has been able to nearly halve the number of patients who now receive transfusions without negatively impacting patient care. Also, the program has saved the hospital more than $5 million in blood costs.

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Accession: 053135966

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PMID: 23495417


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