Hospitals Overspending on Blood Transfusions

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media , October 9, 2012

Hospitals can do a lot to reduce how much blood their surgeons use for transfusions, especially since blood products are scarce, carry risk of adverse events and are extremely costly, says the fall edition of Economic Outlook, a report by the hospital purchasing and quality alliance, Premier.

Premier looked at 7.4 million case-mix adjusted patients with common DRGs discharged from 464 hospitals over four years. Its analysts did the math and found an enormous variation among hospitals across the country.

It also realized that if all 464 hospitals in the Premier study instituted blood utilization practices similar to those hospitals in the top 25%, they could save $165 million annually in blood purchasing costs, and avoid using 802,716 units without changing patient outcomes.

And that's just in the top 10 patient diagnoses, excluding avoided costs of testing, storage, transportation, administration and the increased cost of care when patients' adverse reactions to blood units require longer lengths of stay.

They also would avoid an uncertain number of unintended consequences that occur when patients develop serious adverse reactions to transfused blood.

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