WA study puts patient blood management system on world stage

A Western Australian study into a patient blood management (PBM) system has attracted worldwide interest following its publication in a leading medical journal.

The study (external site), led by Royal Perth Hospital haematologist Professor Michael Leahy, found that a system-wide patient blood management program was not only associated with improved patient survival and reduced complications and length of hospital stay but also substantial cost savings.

The PBM program is designed to maximise use of a patient’s own blood to help avoid blood transfusions during hospital treatment.

In a recent edition of Transfusion, the journal of the American Association of Blood Banks, the researchers revealed that their study – the world’s largest to date – included 605,046 patients admitted to Western Australia’s four major adult tertiary-care hospitals over six years, with results showing:

  • 28% reduction in hospital mortality 
  • 15% reduction in average hospital length of stay 
  • 21% decrease in hospital-acquired infections 
  • 31% decrease in the incidence of heart attack or stroke.

The researchers also reported that for the period of their study PBM reduced the use of blood products by 41%, representing a cost saving of $18.5 million to the health system. Gross savings, which included costs associated with administering transfusions in the hospitals, were estimated at $80-100 million.

Professor Leahy said PBM was increasingly being used in hospitals around the world and was fast becoming the gold standard in patient care.

Chief Medical Officer Professor Gary Geelhoed, who was involved in the study, sees the PBM program as a critical part of good hospital management.

“With increasing demands on health and hospital budgets it is essential we continue to find ways to improve patient outcomes without compromising care. PBM is an excellent program which delivers both,” he said.