Imagine you’re scheduled for joint replacement surgery. Would you prefer that your orthopaedic surgeon use safe and effective medical and surgical techniques that are designed to prevent anemia, decrease bleeding and improve the outcome of your procedure?

And what if you had an unexpected hospitalization? Would you want the hospital to honor your wishes regarding the transfusion of blood products?

The answer to both questions is no doubt yes. That’s why Yavapai Regional Medical Center (YRMC) has employed a leading-edge practice called Patient Blood Management (PBM) since 2012.

PBM reduces the need for blood transfusions and preserves the availability of blood, which can be in short supply. Blood transfusions are necessary at times, but they do carry risks, including:

  • increased rates of infection;
  • complications to the kidneys, lungs and heart; and
  • higher complication rates.

“Some people are surprised that YRMC – a regional healthcare system in Arizona – is regarded as a worldwide leader on PBM,” said Dale Black, Coordinator of Patient Blood Management at YRMC. “But, once they meet YRMC’s forward-thinking leadership and excellent medical team, they understand.”

Click here to watch What is Patient Blood Management? Pierre Tibi MD on YouTube.

PBM was introduced to YRMC by accomplished cardiothoracic surgeon Pierre Tibi, MD, FACS, Medical Director of The James Family Heart Center at YRMC. A renowned PBM leader, Dr. Tibi is president-elect of the Society for the Advancement of Blood Management (SABM). This international organization includes physicians and other healthcare providers dedicated to promoting effective PBM strategies.

YRMC operates the only PBM program in Arizona recognized by SABM. What does that mean to YRMC patients undergoing heart, orthopaedic and other surgeries who want to utilize PBM strategies? It’s good news, according to Spencer Schuenman, DO, of Granite Orthopaedics and a member of YRMC’s Orthopaedic Surgical Services, which has been recognized for exceptional quality by leading U.S. quality assessment organizations. Dr. Schuenman began applying PBM principles in 2013.

“In the first three years I used PBM, I performed 1,385 procedures,” he said. “The first year, I only used four units of red blood cells. The second year, I only used one unit. And in 2016, I did not use any red blood cells. These statistics speak for themselves regarding the effectiveness of PBM in helping ensure the best patient outcomes.”

For planned procedures, the PBM process begins before patients are hospitalized. They work in partnership with their respective physician to prepare for surgery. The doctor and patient discuss when to temporarily discontinue prescriptions, such as blood thinners or over-the-counter medications like aspirin. The physician may recommend diet changes as well as prescribe iron and vitamin supplements. These steps can boost the red blood cell count for people with anemia or help prevent the condition while they’re hospitalized.

YRMC healthcare professionals at all stages of care – from the operating suite to the patient bedside – employ PBM strategies to reduce blood transfusions. Those may include:

  • following meticulous surgical techniques that reduce bleeding;
  • minimizing the frequency as well as the volume of blood draws;
  • salvaging blood lost during and after surgery to wash, filter and re-infuse
    with red blood cells before returning it to the respective patient; and
  • utilizing special machines and medications to reduce the need for blood transfusion.

PBM can also play a role in controlling healthcare costs. Blood transfusions are the most commonly billed hospital procedure at an annual cost of $10-15 billion nationwide. The average cost of a single unit of blood is $1,500.

Want to learn more about PBM? Contact YRMC’s Dale Black at (928) 771-5109. Also, check out YRMC’s website and Doctors and Patients: The Patient Blood Management Collaboration, an annual symposium sponsored by YRMC. The symposium brings together medical leaders from throughout the world to present and discuss the latest science on PBM. In 2016, the symposium became a global event as people worldwide joined the symposium’s first ever live stream.