Hospitals cut blood transfusions, save millions

Blood transfusions have been a staple of hospital care for nearly a century, but providers find they can reap big savings by stemming the number of such procedures performed, according to USA Today.

For example, the four-hospital Lee Memorial Health System in Florida has cut blood product usage by 2,200 units a year, an 11 percent reduction. The initiative translated to a $2.5 million annual savings on both staff and supplies. The system encourages physicians who typically have ordered two units of blood for transfusions to order only one.

"What we've been focusing on is, what's the appropriate amount of blood to give, and when and how?" Charles Krivenko, M.D., the hospital's chief safety officer, told USA Today. "Blood is really important: It's lifesaving. But it should really be used sparingly."

Too many blood transfusions can have a negative effect on a patient's health, including the increased risk of infections, pulmonary embolisms and the chance of a readmission or even a patient death, according to Krivenko.

Partly as a result, hospitals in many parts of the country have altered blood transfusion protocols to improve patient outcomes and save money. In Minneapolis, the Allina Health hospitals have reduced the use of blood by some 4,000 units since 2010, saving upward of $300 per unit.

Graham Sher, president of the AABB (formerly the American Association of Blood Banks) told USA Today that the use of blood transfusions in the U.S. has dropped about 10 to 15 percent over the past decade.

To learn more:
- read the USA Today article

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