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Less Blood Testing for Some Surgeries Safe, Cost Effective

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, May 23, 2013

The ordering and testing of blood for surgery that rarely requires blood transfusions is expensive and "overutilized" by hospitals, researchers say. At Johns Hopkins alone, more appropriate blood ordering practices could save $200,000 a year.



Photo: montuno cc-by-sa-2.0

For hospitals looking to lower costs anywhere they can, Johns Hopkins researchers have identified a longstanding procedure worthy of a closer look: the unnecessary crossing and typing of blood for surgeries that almost never require transfusions.

"A lot of effort in transfusion medicine has gone toward understanding the transfusion itself and controlling the use of transfused blood," says Steven Frank, MD, associate professor of anesthesiology and critical care medicine at Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. "But our new paper focuses on the ordering and testing of blood, which is expensive and time consuming and which we think is overutilized, especially for these cases that are rarely if ever transfused."

In fact, he adds, "there's a lot of unnecessary blood ordering for (surgery) cases." At Johns Hopkins alone, more appropriate blood ordering practices could save $200,000 a year, as well as improve patient safety, he says.

For example, Johns Hopkins can save $47 for a type and screen and $52 for a type and cross per unit, often done multiple times for the same unit when it is ordered but not used for a variety of patients.

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