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New Study Exposes Need for Better Management of Anaemia

Urgent need to prevent development of anaemia.

A study published in Anaesthesia raised important questions about the way anaemia is currently managed in surgical patients.

Professor Jeffery Hamdorf, Winthrop Professor of Surgical Education at The University of Western Australia and Chairman of the Western Australia Patient Blood Management Group, commented “This study will change the way people think about transfusion and haemoglobin levels.”

Anaemia (lower than normal levels of haemoglobin in the blood) is associated with adverse patient outcomes. Transfusion has been the traditional treatment for moderate to severe anaemia, with the patient’s haemoglobin level being the primary consideration in the decision to transfuse.

Questions, though, have been raised within the medical community in recent years about the effectiveness of transfusion.

Researchers from The University of Western Australia looked at over 60,000 patients undergoing surgery to determine if there is a level of anaemia where transfusion is effective. After adjusting for patient risk factors, they found that transfusion did not reduce the risk of death at any level of anaemia and was associated with longer hospital stays.

Improved management of patients’ anaemia has become an important focus in the global uptake of patient blood management (PBM) programs.

The current study highlights the urgent need for a greater focus on preventing the development of anaemia and, when it does develop, exploring more appropriate methods of managing it. [APBN]