May 25, 2017

Both the American Medical Association and The Joint Commission consider red blood cell transfusion to be among the five most overused procedures, yet it remains one of the most commonly performed medical interventions in U.S. hospitals today. According to a study conducted at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, allogeneic blood transfusions drive costs higher and pose serious risks to patients. In fact, the researchers suggest that premature or unnecessary transfusions may actually do more harm than good.

Blood bagWhile vague clinical guidelines and long-held norms have created wide variation in the use of transfusion, many administrators and clinicians are now realizing that reducing transfusion rates with evidence-based patient blood management programs can provide significant clinical and economic advantages. The Joint Commission, which offers certification in patient blood management, lists the following among PBM’s benefits:

  • Reduced risk, i.e., fewer adverse events and incidents
  • Improved patient outcomes
  • Cost savings

It makes sense that a strong patient blood management program can have a tremendous impact on patient outcomes and value-based healthcare delivery. By reducing transfusion rates, providers are reducing the likelihood of complications, ranging from acute immune hemolytic reaction to blood-borne infections and lung injury. This translates to fewer and shorter hospital stays and reduced readmissions, performance indicators that impact reimbursements. And since the activity-based costs of one unit of red blood cells can exceed $1000, reducing transfusions can factor heavily in cost containment goals.

Successful PBM programs combine a variety of treatment options, such as anemia management, coagulation optimization, and blood conservation strategies. Autotransfusion offers additional benefits by eliminating allogeneic transfusion risk and reducing the costs of maintaining a safe blood supply. Effectively coordinating the various treatment options and services can be challenging, but experienced PBM professionals and structured programs offer significant rewards.

As more healthcare providers come to this realization and begin rethinking the customary triggers for ordering transfusions, we’re seeing a change in the traditional patterns of care. We invite you to begin a discussion at your facility by downloading our latest guide, Improving Your Patient Blood Management Program with Autotransfusion. You’ll learn more about the clinical and economic benefits of patient blood management and how to create a PBM program that better positions your organization to achieve its value-based healthcare goals.