Guidelines can help patients avoid unnecessary blood transfusions

April 15, 2019

Dr. Dean Fergusson played a lead role in an important set of guidelines for patient blood management published in JAMA. Patient blood management is a multidisciplinary approach to optimize care for patients who may need a transfusion before, during or after surgery. Based on the best available evidence, the international group of experts made 10 clinical and 12 research recommendations. One was to identify and treat anemia, a condition in which not enough healthy red blood cells carry oxygen in the body, well before surgery. In many cases this can be done with oral iron supplements. The guidelines also recommended using lower hemoglobin thresholds to determine when a blood transfusion is needed during surgery. They advised hospitals to adopt programs for patient blood management, and to use electronic tools that can serve as reminders of institutional guidelines when blood is ordered. According to the accompanying editorial, this paper creates a solid foundation for how hospitals manage blood worldwide.

“Our goal is to be proactive in identifying and managing patients with anemia, and to only use red blood cell transfusions when absolutely necessary.” -Dr. Dean Fergusson, senior scientist at The Ottawa Hospital, professor at the University of Ottawa.

Funders: American Association of Blood Banks, the International Society of Blood Transfusion, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Transfusionsmedizin und Immunhämatologie, the Société Française de Transfusion Sanguine, the Società Italiana di Medicina Transfusionale e Immunoematologia, European Blood Alliance.

Research at The Ottawa Hospital is possible because of  generous donations to The Ottawa Hospital Foundation.

Co-authors: Markus M. Mueller, Hans Van Remoortel, Patrick Meybohm, Kari Aranko, Cécile Aubron, Reinhard Burger, Jeffrey L. Carson, Klaus Cichutek, Emmy De Buck, Dana Devine, Dean Fergusson, Gilles Folléa, Craig French, Kathrine P. Frey, Richard Gammon, Jerrold H. Levy, Michael F. Murphy, Yves Ozier, Katerina Pavenski, Cynthia So-Osman, Pierre Tiberghien, Jimmy Volmink, Jonathan H.Waters, Erica M.Wood, Erhard Seifried, for the ICC PBM Frankfurt 2018 Group. 

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