November 2, 2018 – Transfusion and You


Anchor lead: You can have an impact on whether you receive a transfusion, Elizabeth Tracey reports

For many people who are having surgery, having fewer transfusions is both practical and results in fewer harms, with a recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine looking at outcomes out to six months postoperatively. Steve Frank, a transfusion expert at Johns Hopkins, says if you’re having surgery, talk with your doctor about transfusion use.

Frank: I like to say that blood saves lives when you need it, but it only increases risk and cost when you don’t. I think you have a discussion of the risks and benefits of transfusion and understanding with the physician that you’re only going to receive a blood transfusion if you truly need it, because even the Joint Commission and the American Medical Association have called out transfusion as one of the top five overused procedures in US hospitals.  :31

Frank notes that transfusions are also the most common procedure undertaken in US hospitals. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.