Patient Blood Management (PBM)

Patient blood management (PBM) is an approach to care in which the entire health care team works together to help improve and conserve a patient’s own blood supply during surgery or medical treatment to avoid unnecessary blood transfusions.

How does PBM work?

PBM Involves Three Basic Principles

Improve blood levels before surgical or medical treatment

  • Identify and treat anemia (low hemoglobin level).
  • Identify and treat nutritional deficiencies that can cause low blood levels (low levels of iron, folic acid and vitamin B).
  • Identify any bleeding disorders that need correction or management.

Minimize blood loss during treatment

  • Certain medications, natural medicines, herbal and vitamin supplements can increase bleeding or clotting at the time of surgery. Your doctor will determine and discuss what medications to stop before your surgery.
  • Use special equipment to reduce bleeding during surgery.
  • Use surgical and anesthesia techniques to reduce bleeding during surgery.
  • Provide medications to reduce bleeding.
  • Take smaller and less frequent samples for blood testing

Enhance recovery

  • Use medication and nutritional support to help the body make new blood cells.

Benefits of PBM

Stocks of donated blood can sometimes be very low with ongoing blood shortages. It is becoming more challenging to maintain an adequate supply of blood. PBM helps to reduce demand on the blood supply by reducing avoidable blood transfusions. This helps to ensure blood is available for life-threatening medical emergencies.

Questions and Answers About the Use of Blood Products

What are the risks associated with a blood transfusion?

Blood is safer now than ever before. However, there are risks to transfusions. Mild problems, and very rarely, serious problems can occur. The below lists the most serious risks of blood transfusion but does not include every possible situation.

  • Mild reactions (fever, chills, headache, mild rash, itching, etc.) easily treated with medication.
  • Moderate to severe reactions (low blood pressure, trouble breathing severe allergy and organ injury) are rare but more serious and the resulting condition can be severe or lead to death despite all available treatments.
  • Infections (bacterial, viruses, parasites) and any resulting illnesses (HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis B & C, etc.) are extremely rare – less than 0.1% but can be severe or lead to death despite all available treatments. All donors are carefully screened before donating blood. All units of blood are carefully tested for infections, bacteria and viruses before being sent to the hospital for use.

Should I donate my own blood a few weeks prior to surgery?

Pre-donation is not recommended. Patients can develop a low blood levels prior to surgery increasing the chances of receiving a blood transfusion during surgery.

Does this mean that I will never get a blood transfusion?

There are some situations where blood transfusions are unavoidable and needed to prevent serious illness or death. If there is a need for a blood transfusion, your doctor will discuss the reasons for transfusion and explain the risks, benefits and any alternatives that may be available. As a patient, you have the right to participate in the decision-making process regarding your treatment and care. It is important that you discuss with your doctor any questions, concerns or fears you may have.

How can I learn more about avoiding unnecessary blood transfusions?

For more information, please call 973-322-2950 to speak with a professional from the Blood Management Institute.