- A new analysis of 645 U.S. hospitals found a 20% drop in blood utilization across 134 diagnoses that account for 80% of red blood cell use, according to Premier Inc., which conducted the study.
- The Charlotte, N.C.-based company looked at inpatient data on more than 27 million discharges from 2011 through June 2016 and saw a direct link between reduced blood use and provider initiatives to improve blood use stewardship.
- Blood transfusions can run about $1,000 per unit when direct and indirect costs are accounted for. They also raise the risks of adverse events such as allergic reactions, fever, immune suppression and iron overload.
By evaluating and improving blood transfusion practices, hospitals can not only see substantial cost savings, but also reduce hospital-acquired infections.
More than 14 million units of blood were used in the U.S. in 2013, or for one in 10 hospitalizations, according to Premier. An previous analysis from 2012 identified opportunities for organizations to save money by implementing best practices for blood usage.
One hospital, Mercy Health in Cincinnati, saved $6.2 million by conserving red blood cell, platelet, plasma and cryo use, according to the study. Another, Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana, Ill., saved nearly $2 million.
More prudent red blood cell transfusion policies can help hospitals reduce healthcare–associated infections.
In 2015, a U.S. News & World Report analysis found the overuse of blood transfusions was one of the most common medical errors in the U.S.
A 2016 study by researchers at Vanderbilt University Medical Center found that hospitals could save millions, reduce blood waste and improve patient care with guidelines to manage blood utilization, transportation and storage.
An earlier study in JAMA found that infection rates declined by 20% when hospitals performed fewer red blood cell transfusions. The rate of hospital-associated infections like pneumonia, mediastinitis, wound infection and sepsis was 11.8% in hospitals with restrictive blood use policies versus 16.9% in hospitals where usage was more liberal.