Patient-shared decision making is an important aspect of health care today. However, advocating for yourself – or someone you love – requires information, especially with a relatively new concept like patient blood management (PBM).

What is PBM and why is it important to you?
“PBM is about keeping your blood in you and keeping it working well,” explains Beth Black, Administrative Assistant and Program Data Manager, Patient Blood Management at Dignity Health Yavapai Regional Medical Center.

PBM supports your good health by preventing anemia, an underdiagnosed condition among people of all ages. And, because PBM is patient-centered, it is put into practice before, during, and after surgery.

The Pillars of PBM
Yavapai Regional’s successful PBM program uses a team approach to:

  • Manage anemia
  • Ensure that bleeding is under control and blood is clotting appropriately (not too much, not too little)
  • Utilize blood-conserving measures during surgery
  • Involve patients in decision making about their blood

Blood tests – particularly during hospitalization – provide your physician important information about your health. However, drawing too much blood can lead to anemia in hospitalized patients. That’s why “phlebotomy stewardship” is becoming more and more important. This means taking only the needed amount of blood for testing in order to avoid hospital-acquired anemia.

A Few Words About Anemia
When you have anemia, your body lacks the healthy red blood cells needed to carry oxygen to your body’s tissues. Symptoms of anemia include, for example:

  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Dizziness
  • Irregular heart rhythm
  • Shortness of breath
  • Headache
  • Pale or yellowish skin

“Once a year, ask your physician to order a complete work up of your blood,” says Dale Black, Program Coordinator, Patient Blood Management at Dignity Health Yavapai Regional Medical Center. “If you are anemic, work with your doctor to learn the underlying cause of your anemia.”

Prepping for Surgery with PBM
If a surgery is in your future, ask your physician to order blood work two to four weeks before the procedure. If your blood counts are low, your doctor may recommend dietary changes. You may also need iron, vitamin B-12 or folic acid to fuel red blood cell production before surgery.

“You’ll also want to discuss any herbals you take, along with other over-the-counter medications, such as ibuprofen,” says Beth Black. “These can all affect your body’s ability to clot.”

In the Operating Room
Before your operation, talk to your surgeon about strategies that reduce blood loss. If you’re undergoing heart or orthopedic surgery – which are known to cause blood loss – discuss collecting blood lost during surgery for immediate post-operative reinfusion, if needed. Medications and blood products that promote clotting and reduce bleeding are also available.

PBM is About You, the Patient
Want to ensure blood conservation is part of your health care? Talk to your providers about PBM, especially prior to hospitalization.

“Let your team know that you want to be treated in a manner that conserves your blood,” Dale Black says. “You can even mention your desire for minimal blood draws – just what is necessary for testing – during your hospitalization. With PBM, you are in charge of that precious resource, your blood.”

Interested in learning more about Yavapai Regional’s PBM program? Check out these PBM resources or call (928) 771-5109.