In 2008, PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center in Bellingham launched “Bloodless in Bellingham,” a blood management program which enacted medical practices and surgical techniques to reduce the number of blood transfusions needed at the hospital. Now, after seven years, St. Joseph has cut its transfusion rate roughly in half, marking a large success for the hospital and the safety of its patients.
In the event of an emergency, a transfusion can be lifesaving. However, all transfusions have inherent risk, as the recipient’s body can have an allergic reaction to the new blood, multiple transfusions can damage organs by spiking the body’s iron content and, very rarely, the recipient can develop graft-versus-host disease, which causes the new white blood cells to attack the recipient’s bone marrow.
At St. Joseph, surgeons use tranexamic acid on some joint patients to prevent blood loss during surgery. They also use an intraoperative blood salvage system to auto-transfuse recovered blood lost during surgery.
Congratulations to the staff at St. Joseph for their great success reducing transfusions. To learn more, listen to this KGIM interview, or read this story in the Atlantic that features Bellingham. (Tim Pfarr)