Blood conservation strategies take center stage at Emory University Hospital forum

10/14/05

With blood in high demand and limited supply, blood management is of growing concern to doctors and hospitals across the nation. Leading medical experts and members of prominent health organizations recently gathered at Emory University Hospital to strategize solutions to the growing issues involving blood management and health care quality and delivery.

"National medical and regulatory organizations have developed guidelines for effective blood transfusions, but these guidelines remain inconsistent and unenforceable," said Jerrold Levy, MD, chairman of the event and director of Cardiothoracic Anesthesiology at Emory University Hospital. "The way blood is used in the surgical setting is normally left to the discretion of individual physicians. However, transfusion practices vary greatly based on knowledge level and overall interest, and these variances can have an impact on procedures that routinely involve a significant amount of blood loss. It is essential that we establish scientifically-based guidelines to oversee blood management within the health care system."

The Inflammation, Hemostasis and Blood Conservation Strategies forum showcased the latest science surrounding the management of surgical bleeding. It brought together physicians and scientists from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Heart Association, the American Association of Blood Banks, the Society of Thoracic Surgeons, and the Society of Cardiovascular Anesthesiologists.

While guidelines for transfusion are not clearly defined, it is evident that blood needs to be used more judiciously, especially in procedures that involve significant blood loss such as heart bypass surgery and joint replacement procedures. Discussion at the event centered on three key topics: the risks of blood transfusion, the potential benefits of anti-inflammatory strategies and blood-sparing agents, and the overall need for better blood management strategies to improve the overall quality of patient outcomes.

Robert J. Bachman, Chief Operating Officer, Emory University Hospital, summarized the importance of the forum. "Blood management is on the minds of people at every level of the hospital. It is critical that physicians and institutions give more attention to the management of blood as an essential component of improving patient care, and delivering quality services in the context of modern healthcare administration."

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