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Less Blood Testing for Some Surgeries Safe, Cost Effective

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, May 23, 2013

Rarely, however, a patient transfused with O blood develops an adverse reaction. But that only happens in about one per thousand cases of emergency release units transfused. "This type of reaction is usually mild, slower in onset (4-21 days), associated with a mild increase in bilirubin, and often [goes] undetected," the authors said in the article.

Frank says that other hospitals—especially those that don't have electronic anesthesia record systems yet—can customize the Johns Hopkins algorithm to determine the likelihood any particular procedure within their own organization might require blood, and plan more appropriately, even to particular surgeons' practices and history.

Johns Hopkins was able to do this, he says, because three years ago it installed an AIMS, or Anesthesiology Information Management System, that computerizes anesthesia medical records.

"We gave up paper records, and since we did, we've been able to track blood utilization more accurately and easily for every single patient and procedure and their blood requirements, and also whether the blood was ordered for that case or not," he says.

"Unless you have the data, you don't know. You might think transfusion is rare, but how rare? These computerized records have given us the real numbers."

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