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Blood Management & Conservation

What is blood conservation?

Blood conservation is the process of conserving enough of your own blood during medical or surgical treatments and procedures to reduce or eliminate the need for a blood transfusion.

There are many patients who require blood transfusions due to anemia, cancer treatments and surgery. During blood conservation, various techniques are used to conserve blood, control bleeding or promote the growth of new blood cells. Some of these techniques include vitamins, medications, and micro-sampling where only a minimum amount of blood is taken for testing.

The blood conservation medical community has many examples of how well patients can do without blood transfusions if proper timing and coordination of care are available.  Hospitals like Providence Regional take an organized and team approach to the care of these patients.

More patients requesting alternatives to transfusions

While the safety of the nation’s blood supply has improved drastically, not all blood products are 100% safe. Many patients are requesting alternatives to blood transfusions. In fact, in 1999 the Anemia Institute for Research and Education polled consumers about receiving blood products that had been donated and found that 84% would prefer an alternative to transfusion if available.

Three issues to consider about blood products donated by someone else:

  • A 100% risk-free blood supply is not feasible.
  • Shortages in blood supply still occur and can pose a serious risk, particularly for patients suffering from severe trauma, shock, and certain pathologies and diseases.
  • Shortages can result in delays in elective surgery procedures.

Reducing unnecessary transfusions

At Providence Regional, we reduce unnecessary transfusion of stored blood products by:
  • Providing planned utilization of blood, blood products and available alternatives that optimize patient outcomes.
  • Supporting an informed consent process which addresses legal and ethical concerns even if the patient refuses blood for religious or personal reasons.
  • Following principles of evidence-based practice to appropriately measure outcomes of various blood conservation strategies.
  • Increasing patient satisfaction and safety in the transfusion process.

Most medical professionals acknowledge there still is a place for blood transfusions in medical care. Transfusions can be an essential tool in the recovery of patients with certain diagnoses and in situations where time does not allow the use of alternatives.