5 Reasons YRMC’s James Family Heart Center Embraced Patient Blood Management

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The phrase “early adopter” usually brings to mind tech-industry leaders. When it comes to patient blood management (PBM), however, it’s a perfect description of how the James Family Heart Center at Yavapai Regional Medical Center (YRMC) has embraced PBM.

“Years ago, it was considered bold to question treatment standards for blood transfusions,” said Pierre Tibi, MD, FACS, Medical Director of the James Family Heart Center at YRMC and YRMC’s Patient Blood Management program. “Now, blood conservation and patient blood management are discussed in medical journals. Even Medicare is taking serious interest in PBM. It’s only a matter of time before it becomes the standard of care.”

That topic no doubt will be part of the narrative during YRMC – Your Destination for Cardiac Care and Blood Management, a live-stream event sponsored by YRMC. You may join the event:

Date: Thursday, October 17, 2019
Time: 6:00 to 8:00 p.m., Mountain Standard Time
Where: YRMCHealthConnect.org/pbm

With YRMC – Your Destination for Cardiac Care and Blood Management fast approaching, now is the perfect time to highlight why YRMC stepped into the world of PBM as an early adopter. Here are five reasons PBM was embraced by YRMC and why the program continues to thrive:

Reason #1: Forward-thinking leaders.
Questioning the status quo – even when science supports it – requires someone who is not afraid of change and who understands the long-term benefit of that change. For YRMC, that person is Dr. Tibi, a renowned cardiothoracic surgeon and PBM pioneer. He also currently serves as President of the Society for the Advancement of Blood Management (SABM), an international organization dedicated to promoting effective PBM strategies.

“It’s surprising to some people that YRMC – a regional healthcare system in Arizona – is regarded as a worldwide leader on PBM,” said Dr. Tibi. “We have earned that reputation because of our forward-thinking leadership and excellent medical team.”

Reason #2: PBM’s positive impact on hospitalized patients.
The case for PBM at YRMC was bolstered by YRMC’s dedication to patient safety. Studies show PBM reduces illness and death among critically ill patients. It also leads to shorter hospital stays.

Reason #3: Concern about the risks associated with blood transfusions.
“Most people don’t understand that a blood transfusion is a liquid transplant,” explained Dr. Tibi. “As with any transplant, it’s important to understand the risks and benefits of a blood transfusion.”

While some transfusions are medically necessary, they all come with risks, including:

  • Increased infection rates
  • Kidney, lung and heart complications
  • Higher death rates

Reason #4: Worry about the frequency of blood transfusions.
Blood transfusions are historically one of the most common hospital procedures in the United States. However, a study published in a 2018 issue of JAMA found that after a 15-year increase, blood transfusions for red blood cells and plasma declined from 2011 to 2014. At the same time, platelet transfusions remained stable.

“Those of us in the forefront of PBM are hoping this is an indication of a paradigm shift in views about blood transfusions,” said Dr. Tibi. “The study’s authors attributed the reduction of transfusions to the successful collective efforts of patient blood management initiatives nationwide.”

Reason #5: An understanding throughout YRMC that blood is a precious resource.
With the PBM program at YRMC approaching its eighth year, medical professionals from the operating suite to the patient bedside are dedicated to implementing PBM strategies to reduce blood transfusions.

Before surgery those strategies include:

  • Treating anemia in patients so their blood is healthy heading into surgery
  • Correcting patients’ bleeding tendencies
  • Talking to patients about the risks and benefits of transfusions (known in the medical world as “informed consent” or “informed choice”)

Once patients are in the operating suite, PBM strategies include:

  • Following meticulous surgical techniques that reduce bleeding
  • Salvaging blood lost during and after surgery to wash, filter and re-infuse it with red blood cells before returning it to the respective patient
  • Utilizing special machines and medications to reduce the need for blood transfusion

Throughout a patient’s stay at YRMC, the healthcare team works together to minimize the frequency as well as the volume of blood draws.

“At YRMC, Patient Blood Management now extends beyond the Heart Center to include other medical services,” Dr. Tibi said. “I’m proud YRMC was an early adopter of PBM. Now, providers from throughout the world are turning to us for our expertise and experience.”

To learn more about PBM, join YRMC – Your Destination for Cardiac Care and Blood Management at YRMCHealthConnect.org/pbm.

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