Patient Blood Management Awareness Week

Date: 11/06/2019

This week is Patient Blood Management Awareness week. Many people don't know how this service helps improve outcomes from surgery. Can you explain by starting with...

What does Patient Blood Management do? 

The program identifies patients with anemia both in the hospital and in an outpatient setting. We work behind the scenes to evaluate and treat this anemia.

Why is anemia a concern? 

People who have anemia have too little red blood in their body. Red blood cells are important because they bring oxygen to our organs and tissues. Mild to moderate anemia can really impact how people feel physically, while severe anemia can be life-threatening and would usually require a blood transfusion. 

By treating the underlying cause of the anemia, we can prevent the need for transfusions and improve the overall wellbeing of a patient. Transfusions do save lives, but they can also lead to complications, like hospital acquired infections and increased length of hospital stays. If we can reduce transfusions, we can reduce these complications.

One area where this can be really beneficial is prior to surgery. At Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center, our program started in 2006 by focusing on treating anemia before surgery. Since the program started, we have seen a reduction in transfusion usage and complications after surgery which has led to improved patient outcomes.

How else does Patient Blood Management work to improve patient outcomes?

We head up a team effort, that incorporates many different medical and surgical specialties throughout the hospital, to prevent and stop any blood loss. We also work to keep our providers up to date on the latest research regarding when to give and when not to give blood transfusions. 

What if a patient refuses a blood transfusion?

Our team often works with patients who refuse blood transfusions for spiritual or personal reasons. It is really important to us that these patients are treated with their preferences in mind. Sometimes these patients come in with life threatening anemia and need to understand there is a serious risk when refusing a transfusion, but we always work to honor their request and treat them with alternative therapies to transfusions.

Where can I get more information?

Call our Patient Blood Management office at Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center at 973-4928

The following video aired on WABI on November 5, 2019