|Yavapai Regional Medical Center|
Over the last decade, significant, high-tech advances in medicine have improved patient care, quality of life and survival in ways that were previously unimagined. Some examples include: new drugs designed to specifically kill cancer cells, leaving healthy cells unharmed; bionic hands that replace and mimic the movement of real hands in amputees; and the Human Genome Project, which has identified every gene in our human DNA - knowledge that will eventually change the way drugs, medical treatments, and even nutrition therapy are prescribed.
A less technical but equally significant advance in medicine involves changing the way doctors order a standard medical treatment: blood transfusion. Transfusions can be lifesaving, and have been part of medical therapy for more than 70 years. However, with careful patient management and surgical techniques, physicians across the country (and around the world) are giving patients blood far less frequently and realizing better outcomes as a result.
Patient blood management (PBM) is an important development that promises to improve the health and safety of patients. PBM involves the use of sound, evidence-based medical and surgical procedures to slow blood loss during surgery and hospitalization, thus reducing the need for blood transfusion. Evidence shows that patients who do not receive blood transfusions have reduced heart, lung and kidney complications following surgery, lower rates of infection and a shorter length of stay at the hospital.
Dr. Pierre Tibi, medical director of The James Family Heart Center at Yavapai Regional Medical Center (YRMC), is a leading authority on patient blood management and teaches PBM techniques to physicians around the world. Dr. Tibi first became interested in PBM when he began working with patients who, due to religious beliefs, could not receive blood transfusions. Dr. Tibi had to develop new ways of treating these patients before, during, and after surgery to reduce blood loss and help patients rebuild their own blood supply. When he and his team realized that patients without transfusions were recovering better than those who did receive blood, they knew this approach could benefit a great number of people.
PBM is a multi-disciplinary team approach, involving a patient's physician, surgeon, pharmacist, nurses and others in assessing each person's blood management needs. The goal of the team is to produce a plan of care that uses blood-sparing surgical techniques, conservative blood draws, and pharmaceuticals to reduce bleeding and enhance a patient's own blood cell production. PBM is an excellent example of personalized healthcare, with the patient at the center of the conversation and plan.
According to Dr. Tibi, the conversation about PBM should begin between a patient and physician before any scheduled surgery. Tibi states, "Patients should ask their physician about their chances of receiving a blood transfusion during or after the procedure. They should then ask about measures that will be taken to reduce the need for transfusion and talk about their concerns and preferences at that time."
Because of growing evidence showing the value of PBM, YRMC has made the commitment to adopt PBM protocols for all patients who prefer not to receive a transfusion. For more information, visit the YRMC website at www.yrmc.org. There, you can read more about Arizona's only patient blood management program and watch a brief video, featuring Dr. Tibi, which provides an overview of this relatively new and cutting-edge approach to patient care.