Reducing the amount of red blood cell (RBC) transfusions performed in hospitals can also reduce infection rates, according to a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Researchers from the University of Michigan and the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry studied 18 clinical trials, comparing those which restricted use of blood transfusions with a more liberal transfusion strategy. They found that incidence of health care-associated infections was 11.8 percent in the restrictive group and 16.9 percent in the liberal group.
The study shows that RBCs can be a more costly and dangerous treatment method than previously believed, according to the researchers.
"Many people are beginning to accept that we can make a difference--despite being taught in medical school that blood transfusions 'might help and can't hurt,'" Neil Blumberg, professor at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry tells HealthCanal. "What we've found is actually the opposite, that it can hurt and it rarely helps."
An INQRI-funded study published last year in Critical Care Medicine found that a nurse-led intervention combining a “bundle” of evidence-based practices with a comprehensive safety program dramatically reduced the mean rate of infections. The study was conducted by David Thompson and Jill Marsteller associate professors at Johns Hopkins University in the School of Medicine and Bloomberg School of Public Health, respectively, and by J. Bryan Sexton now at the Duke University Health System Patient Safety Center.