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Blood Transfusions – Most people don’t think about blood transfusion until they need to. There are situations when it may be needed. But because there are risks involved, UR Medicine has strategies for avoiding transfusions that may not be necessary.
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Blood transfusion is the most common hospital procedure, estimated to occur in about 10 percent of patients. Blood transfusion is a lifesaving procedure in the case of an emergency. The decision to transfuse blood should always include careful assessment of the potential risks versus the expected benefits.
You doctor will provide this information to you prior to transfusion. Your doctor will discuss the pros and cons of getting transfused as part of your informed consent. Blood transfusion is common during and after cardiovascular surgery.
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At URMC we have created special strategies and guidelines, first to identify patients at high risk of transfusion and then avoid or minimize transfusion during and after their surgery. You can receive pre-screened blood from a healthy anonymous donor, blood components like red blood cells, plasma or platelets, or your own blood, drawn before your surgery or washed and reinfused during surgery.
Although transfusion can be lifesaving procedures in cases of trauma or sickle cell disease, for example, blood transfusion should be thought of as a liquid organ transplant. Blood transfusion is not risk free.
When blood products must be used, our blood management program helps healthcare professionals identify the most appropriate amount and frequency that’s ight for you. Establishing a hospital wide patient blood management program is essential to assure appropriate use of blood products, reduce avoidable blood loss, and proactively treat anemia.
Strong Memorial Hospital cares for patients who refuse blood transfusions for religious or personal reasons, or those who only accept transfusions or blood component therapy in life-threatening situations.
Patient blood management is a comprehensive approach that utilizes multiple different physicians, nurses, and other healthcare practitioners to use the best possible evidence to minimize the amount of transfusion to only that that is necessary. Mounting evidence indicates that unnecessary blood transfusions are associated with multiple adverse outcomes. In the Medical Intensive Care Unit at Strong Memorial Hospital, we have instituted two major programs to reduce and avoid unnecessary blood transfusions.
Nurses and staff in the Medical ICU perform rounds on every patient to determine which tests are necessary and keep the volume of blood drawn for diagnostic testing to a minimum. Doctors and physician’s assistants in the Medical ICU transfuse patients based on their clinical symptoms instead of strictly using numbers to make this decision.
There are many ways to decrease transfusion in the operating room. Most important though, I think, is adequate preparation of the patient before surgery to increase red cell mass, acceptance of moderate degrees of anemia, and excellent surgical hemostasis. Your surgeon may recommend transfusion if you remain anemic despite pre-surgery preparation, experience significant blood loss during the procedure, or if you have a chronic medical condition in which transfusion is your only treatment.
Our goal is to reduce transfusion in cases which there is little or no benefit and to avoid blood products for patients who decline transfusion for religious or personal preferences. Blood transfusion may be necessary, but getting a transfusion is not risk free. Before considering transfusion, carefully evaluate the risks and benefits and always discuss any concern with your physician. Learn more about your transfusion options at our website.
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