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New patient blood management system could save millions

Media release

New Curtin University of Technology research into patient blood management could save the WA health system up to $2 million each year.

Professor James Semmens, Curtin’s Chair of Population Health Research, will lead the Australian-first study which, through a new blood management platform, seeks to rationalise the use of blood products, and improve outcomes for WA patients.

In 2008-09 the use of fresh blood products in WA cost the State more than $30 million, rising to an annual cost of $34 million in 2012.

Professor Semmens said the key to improved efficiency was to improve blood management and reduce the number of inappropriate transfusions.

“Currently, 80 per cent of the State’s blood products are used in situations outside National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMCR) guidelines,” he said.

He said another concerning trend was the “general perception” that donor blood was 100 per cent safe.

“This needs to be questioned, as there’s a large pool of evidence that documents the adverse effect donor blood has had on patients. Through enhanced management, our system will look at improving patient outcomes,” Professor Semmens said.

As part of the study, a patient blood management (PBM) database for monitoring blood use in WA will be developed, and data of blood use will be fed back to prescribing physicians at pilot hospitals, Fremantle Hospital and Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital.

An expert team of physicians, transfusion nurses, information analysts, administrators, senior planners, the Australian Red Cross Blood Service and academic researchers will be involved in the study.

“This is part of a multipronged approach to encourage a change of practice. International experience suggests it’s one of the most effective ways in bringing about change in transfusion practice,” Professor Semmens said.

The new PBM system is predicted to have a flow-on effect, further reducing costs in other areas.

“By improving the management of blood prescription in the first place, we lower costs through a reduction in the number of pre- and post-transfusion tests required, a reduced occurrence of transfusion related illness and, consequently, fewer days spent in hospital beds,” Professor Semmens said.

Results showing the impact of the new PBM system will be released next July.

The study is funded by the 2009 State Health Advisory Council’s Research Translation Project.

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