Increasing Cost of Blood Transfusions Creates need for Bloodless Surgery

Increasing Cost of Blood Transfusions Creates need for Bloodless Surgery

The cost of blood transfusions is on the rise and the consequence is an increase in the number of blood management programs at hospitals around the U.S. Blood management and the field of bloodless medicine include bloodless surgery techniques, dietary measures and a whole large number of other tactics all aimed at minimizing the amount of blood that is lost during a surgery or operation and increasing the body’s ability to efficiently manage oxygen with less red blood cells.

Some patients opt to have a bloodless surgery as an different to receiving a blood transfusion. There are a number of different reasons why patients receive transfusions. Trauma patients following a harsh accident or injury often require blood transfusions to replace lost blood. Additionally, sometimes patients with bleeding disorders – such as hemophilia – require blood transfusions in addition.

As the field of bloodless medicine has become more mainstream in the past quarter century, there have been a number of different reasons for patients to seek blood transfusion alternatives. In the 1970s and 80s, blood transfusions were discovered to be potentially dangerous because of the amount of unscreened donor blood that was found to be polluted with infectious diseases. A large number of hemophiliac patients truly contracted hepatitis and HIV by what should have been life saving blood transfusions.

Some religious groups have been known to refuse blood transfusions for their beliefs. Jehovah’s Witnesses in particular have strong views about the sanctity of blood and its relationship to the human body. It was truly these concerns that rule to the development of bloodless medicine in the first place.

Other patients have additional concerns when it comes to blood transfusions, including blood allergies, human error involving the wrong blood kind, and other complications.

Until recently, the cost of a blood transfusion has not been one of the predominant issues of concern for patients debating whether or not to have a transfusion. However, with the overall costs of healthcare on the rise, patients are scrutinizing every aspect of their medical care. It certainly doesn’t help that statistics show that the cost of blood transfusions has truly increased in the past few years.

A peer-reviewed medical journal reported in April of 2010 that, when all of the cost factors before, during and after a red blood cell transfusion are considered, the actual cost of the transfusion is considerably higher than before estimated. The study reports that actual blood transfusion costs are nearly 37% higher than past estimates when all of the associated costs were taken into consideration. This places the total cost of blood ranging between $522 and $1,183 per-unit.

As many have discovered, a important amount of this increase in cost is deflected to the patient receiving the transfusion. For patients who must receive multiple transfusions with multiple units of blood, these costs can quickly mount. And these costs only consider red blood cell transfusions – platelet transfusions and transfusions involving other blood parts are already more costly.

Bloodless surgery provides a cost effective different for both patients and healthcare systems. By limiting the amount of blood lost in the first place, the necessity for a blood transplant is reduced, if not completely deleted. As blood management programs and bloodless surgery methods continue to improvement, bloodless medicine will be an option for more patients and more procedures.

Of course, not all procedures can be performed using bloodless surgery methods. Unplanned surgeries, such as emergency trauma and other ER procedures, are difficult to perform using blood management principles. For these procedures, transfusions may nevertheless be necessary.

Contact your local healthcare system for more information about bloodless surgery, including the benefits of blood management and a list of procedures that can be performed without a transfusion.

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