04 April 2017

Commission publishes guides on patient blood management

The Commission has today published two guides on Patient Blood Management (PBM).  The guides, one addressed to authorities and the other addressed to hospitals, have been developed via a Public Health Programme service contract (nº 20136106).

Patient blood management (PBM) is a patient-focused, evidence-based and systematic approach to improve patient outcomes through the safe and rational use of blood and blood products and avoiding unnecessary transfusions. Essential elements of PBM include: the prevention of conditions that might otherwise result in the need for transfusion (through health promotion and screening for early detection of anemia), appropriate diagnosis and optimal treatment, including the use of alternatives to transfusion, good surgical and anaesthetic techniques, the use of alternatives to blood transfusion and blood conservation. The high prevalence of untreated pre-operative anaemia, the unmet need for improved bleeding management and a liberal transfusion practice, point towards huge potential to improve outcome through rationalisation of transfusion. The PBM approach has been endorsed and promoted by the World Health Organization and is widely accepted as current best practice.

The publication is timely as, just last month, the journal Transfusion published impressive results from a comprehensive 5-year PBM programme in Western Australia, the world’s largest programme to date on PBM. It included 605,046 patients admitted to Western Australia’s four major adult tertiary-care hospitals, with results showing a 28% reduction in hospital mortality, a 15% reduction in average hospital length of stay, a 21% decrease in hospital-acquired infections (transfused patients are more susceptible to infection) and a 31% decrease in the incidence of heart attack or stroke. The use of blood products was reduced by 41% during the study period, achieving not only these significant patient outcome benefits but also representing a very substantial cost saving to the health service.

The Commission hopes that the EU Public Health Programme investment in the development of these guides will enhance the efforts of health authorities and professionals across the EU to achieve similar results for EU patients.

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