Quality & Patient Safety

Saving blood: The relatively simple task of blood management

Patient Safety Monitor, October 10, 2017

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Want to save your bosses some money and improve patient safety? Improve your blood transfusion practices. A study published in the August 2017 issue of The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety found that by eliminating unnecessary red blood cell (RBC) transfusions, researchers were able to save their hospital over $1 million per year.

"[Fifty percent] or more of RBC transfusions may be unnecessary," the authors wrote in their conclusion. "And the rate of RBC transfusion in other developed countries, including Canada, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands, is more than 25% lower than in the United States."

RBC transfusions have increased 134% between 1997 to 2011 to become the most frequently performed hospital procedure in America. And while they are a vital tool for treating patients, they come with potential risks like allergic reactions, fever, and infection.

The Joint Commission, the AABB, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services have flagged excessive transfusions as an improvement priority. So have six professional organizations, including obstetric, hematology, critical care, and anesthesiology societies, and the Society of Hospital Medicine.

“The cost and risks of RBC transfusions, along with evidence of overuse, suggest that improving transfusion practices is a key opportunity for health systems to improve both the quality and value of patient care,” the study’s authors wrote.

This is an excerpt from a member only article. To read the article in its entirety, please login or subscribe to Patient Safety Monitor.

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