- While red blood cell transfusions are a common treatment in the US, infection rates dropped by 20% when hospitals performed them less often, a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found.
- To investigate the issue, researchers looked at 18 randomized clinical trials with restrictive versus liberal red blood cell use policies.
- They found the incidence of health care-associated infections such as pneumonia, mediastinitis, wound infection and sepsis was 11.8% in the restrictive group and 16.9% in the liberal group.
For many years, it has been the assumption in medicine that blood transfusions can't hurt a patient and could help them. But as the study's authors note, this apparently isn't true. It appears that restrictive red blood cell transfusion policies help hospitals lower incidence of health care-associated infections. Given that each infection typically requires an extra $50,000 to treat, it adds yet another reason to develop a restrictive policy for administering transfusions.