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In Transfusion, More Blood Means More Risk, Higher Cost

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, April 30, 2012

Frank said that the practice variation results because doctors "are trained to a certain practice, and once they finish their training they are slow to adapt. A lot of these studies with lower thresholds have come out in the last few years and some surgeons just aren't familiar with them."

He added that because the blood banking system has dramatically improved its ability to screen donors for hepatitis or HIV infected blood, "a lot of doctors assume that blood is completely safe, and that's the main risk they used to worry about.  But there are many other risks besides that which people don't think about," such as allergic reactions to blood.

Another researcher in this project, Paul Ness, MD, said that studies like this one "help to drive hospitals to start to confront some of this. They provide support to start some of these programs (to reduce the unnecessary use of blood). Blood costs are expensive. And in this era where Medicare and Medicaid are trying to reduce payments to hospitals and doctors, all of these elements can work together."

See Also:
National Effort Scrutinizes Costly Blood Transfusion Complications
Why Aren't Hospitals More Concerned About Blood Safety?


Cheryl Clark is senior quality editor and California correspondent for HealthLeaders Media. She is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists.
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