Patient-shared decision making is an important aspect of healthcare today. However, advocating for yourself – or someone you love – requires information, especially with a relatively new concept like patient blood management (PBM).
This is one reason the Society for the Advancement of Patient Blood Management (SABM) is sponsoring its 15th annual SABM Patient Blood Management Awareness Week®, November 1-5, 2021. This worldwide awareness week is dedicated to informing patients about the importance of blood health, particularly when it comes to hospitalization and surgical procedures.
In our community, Dignity Health, Yavapai Regional Medical Center (YRMC) is home to Arizona’s only PBM program that’s recognized by SABM. Local leaders also understand the importance of PBM. Mayor Greg Mengarelli, for example, is continuing a 10-year tradition by issuing a proclamation declaring “Patient Blood Management Week” in Prescott.
“Dignity Health, YRMC has been forward-thinking in its implementation of PBM nearly a decade ago,” says Dale Black, Program Coordinator, Patient Blood Management at Dignity Health, YRMC. “The people of Yavapai County are fortunate that YRMC has embraced blood conservation. This means residents have access to local providers for information about PBM.”
In fact, he notes that in October 2021 – nearly 10 years after YRMC introduced PBM – the World Health Organization (WHO) released a policy brief titled, The Urgent Need To Implement Patient Blood Management.
Getting to Know 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, YRMC.
This Healthy Conversations – Patient Blood Management: Your Blood, Your Call – focuses on how PBM supports your good health by preventing anemia, an underdiagnosed condition among people of all ages. And, because PBM is patient-centered, you’ll learn how to put PBM into practice before, during and after surgery.
The Pillars of PBM
YRMC’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:
- Cold hands and feet
- Irregular heart rhythm
- Shortness of breath
- Pale or yellowish skin
“Once a year, ask your physician to order a complete work up of your blood,” Dale Black says. “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 healthcare? 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,” says Dale Black. “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 YRMC’s PBM program? Check out these PBM resources or call (928) 771-5109.