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Better assessment of transfusions could save blood

Nearly 95 percent of patients admitted to hospital intensive care units are affected by anemia. Consequently, these patients receive a large number of red blood cell (RBC) transfusions in order to restore proper hemoglobin levels. New research shows that alternative treatments may lead to fewer transfusions, conserving critical blood supplies in hospitals. The report is published in Seminars in Dialysis.

Phlebotomy, the removing of blood from the body, has been seen as a major factor contributing to anemia, but recent research shows that it may not be the primary cause. “There is now ample evidence suggesting that the anemia observed in the critically ill is an underproduction anemia, consistent with what is commonly referred to as the anemia of chronic inflammatory disease,?says Howard L. Corwin, M.D., author of the report.

The expected benefit of RBC transfusions is an increased oxygen level, which prevents cellular injury. However, studies have not consistently demonstrated that the increased hemoglobin level with transfusion leads to improved tissue oxygenation. At this point in time, there are no convincing data to support the routine use of RBC transfusion to treat anemia in hemodynamically stable, critically ill patients without evidence of acute bleeding.

Source:Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

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