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National Hemovigilance Pilot Program Launches to Track Adverse Events Associated with Blood Transfusion

Goal is to Enhance Patient Safety and Reduce Health Care Costs

BETHESDA, Md., May 7 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Beginning today, nine hospitals will join in a pilot program, contributing data on adverse events associated with blood transfusions. By analyzing the data collected, it will be possible to identify best practices that can be implemented to significantly improve patient safety while reducing overall costs to the health care system.

This pilot hemovigilance program is one of four components comprising the U.S. Biovigilance Network. The U.S. Biovigilance Network is the first and only national collaboration between government and nongovernment agencies designed to confidentially track adverse reactions and incidents associated with blood collection and transfusion as well as tissue, organ and cell therapy transplantation. The Hemovigilance Module - focusing specifically on patients who receive blood and blood components -- is being developed within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN), a patient safety surveillance system operated by the CDC's Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion.

"The U.S. is the only developed country that does not have an established method to track and monitor adverse events associated with blood transfusion on a national level," said AABB CEO Karen Shoos Lipton, JD. "We are pleased to be partnering with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, CDC and other private organizations to provide a forum that will enable us as a community to evaluate therapeutic protocols and make best practice recommendations to improve patient safety and reduce health care costs."

Though the U.S. blood supply is as safe as it has ever been, this country lacks a coordinated national network to track and monitor adverse events associated with the transfusion of blood and blood components. Fully reliable data about the relative risks of transfusion do not exist, particularly concerning life-threatening noninfectious hazards of transfusion such as transfusion of the wrong unit of blood into a patient and transfusion-related acute lung injury, or TRALI.

TRALI is just one of many examples of how mitigating the current adverse events associated with transfusions would produce large health care savings nationally and, most importantly, enhance patient safety. For patients at risk for TRALI, data collected and compiled from the Hemovigilance Module could lead to the development of new treatment protocols. In addition to improved care, an estimated $40 million or more could be saved by eliminating the need for further diagnostic patient assessments (including x-rays), respiratory treatment and extended hospital stays.

"The Hemovigilance Module in NHSN is an important step forward for blood safety in the United States," said Matthew J. Kuehnert, MD, FACP, director of the CDC's Office of Blood, Organ, and other Tissue Safety. "This unique collaborative effort between federal government and the private sector has great potential to be a critical building block for a national biovigilance program, which has as a common goal to improve patient safety and donor health."

For more information about the U.S. Biovigilance Network and the NHSN, please visit and

About AABB

Established in 1947, AABB (formerly known as the American Association of Blood Banks) is an international, not-for-profit association dedicated to the advancement of science and the practice of transfusion medicine and related biological therapies. The association is committed to improving health by developing and delivering standards, accreditation and educational programs and services to optimize patient and donor care and safety. AABB membership consists of approximately 1,800 institutions and 8,000 individuals, including physicians, scientists, administrators, medical technologists, nurses, researchers, blood donor recruiters and public relations personnel. Members are located in all 50 states and 80 countries.

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