What Is Patient Blood Management?

Glyn Sinclair

Patient blood management is a multifaceted program that aims to decrease, or eliminate the need for patients to undergo blood transfusions. The focus is on all patients who undergo surgery, with the understanding that those who already suffer from anemia tend to be more at risk for a transfusion. A blood management team will assess and formulate a plan for each individual’s specific needs before and after surgery. The plan includes medical techniques to avoid loss of blood, pharmaceuticals, and laboratory analysis. This management approach also covers all aspects concerning patient evaluation, to the actual decision-making that goes into recommending a blood transfusion.

Patient blood management aims to decrease the need for patients to undergo blood transfusions.
Patient blood management aims to decrease the need for patients to undergo blood transfusions.

The program deals with a number of issues that include conserving blood resources, minimizing unnecessary use of blood, reducing time spent in the hospital as well as taking into account the cost to the patient and medical facility. Pharmacists are a crucial component of patient blood management programs and often give advice on the appropriate medications to use to limit the need for an allogeneic blood transfusion. This procedure, which is basically blood donated from multiple anonymous donors, can be costly, which is just one of the concerns of the medical community.

Though all donated blood is tested for disease and viruses, blood transfusions still come with some risk of infection.
Though all donated blood is tested for disease and viruses, blood transfusions still come with some risk of infection.

Patient blood management is an important aspect throughout the perioperative cycle. This refers to the general time that any given patient spends in the hospital environment, and includes admission, surgery and recovery time. To maximize and refine their efforts, patient blood management teams strive to ensure anemic patients are properly diagnosed and supplied with the appropriate and adequate amounts of replacement blood, if needed. The team continues to follow the patient post-surgery to ensure that their blood work remains normal. Patients are typically screened for anemia at least one month prior to surgery so the blood management can make other arrangements.

Blood donated for transfusion purposes sometimes comes with the risk of being infected. This is a vital part of patient blood management to ensure these diseases do not enter into the transfusion process, and ultimately the patient. Viruses such as hepatitis, Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and West Nile virus are just a few of the potentially deadly candidates that could find their way into the allogeneic blood banks. Studies have shown that although allogeneic blood transfusions undoubtedly save many lives, they are also linked to increased deaths and medical complications. Because of this, the blood management team is tasked with being especially vigilant during the donation screening process.

Patient blood management is an important aspect throughout the perioperative cycle.
Patient blood management is an important aspect throughout the perioperative cycle.

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