Blood Transfusions: Less is More


The most common inpatient medical procedure in 2011 was the blood transfusion, with 12% of all hospitalized patients receiving one. The accrediting nonprofit Joint Commission reports transfusions as one of the five most overused hospital procedures. Now, there is a movement to cut back on using transfusions. A blood transfusion is like a liquid organ transplant that can trigger immune and allergic reactions. A study in 2014 found that patients with severe injuries had decreased mortality rates with a transfusion, whereas those with lesser injuries did not do as well. Blood transfusions may only be beneficial to those who really need them. The New England Journal of Medicine study in 1999 regarding hemoglobin concentrations challenged the 1940s standard, finding that cutting back on transfusions did not change mortality rates. Between 2009 and 2012, Stanford’s hospital reduced blood transfusions by 24%, saving the hospital $6.4 million and decreasing mortality and hospitalization lengths. With better outcomes and money saved, the change is worth the effort.
Kincaid, Ellie. “Doctors have done a complete 180 on one of the most common procedures in America.” News. Yahoo Finance, 8 Apr 2015. Web. 12 Apr 2015.

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