Safety and efficacy concerns of allogeneic blood transfusions and their impact on patient outcomes and associated staggering costs and restricted supply have fueled the quest for other modalities and strategies to reduce use of blood components. Patient blood management focuses on multidisciplinary and multimodal preventive measures to reduce or obviate the need for transfusions and ultimately to improve the clinical outcomes of patients. Patient blood management strategies can be applied at every stage of care to surgical and nonsurgical patients, and they generally fall under one of these three categories (the so-called pillars of blood management): optimizing hematopoiesis and appropriate management of anemia, minimizing bleeding and blood loss, and harnessing and optimizing physiological tolerance of anemia through employing all available modalities while treatment is initiated. Several tools and modalities are available to address each of these pillars. Examples include hematinic agents, systemic and topical hemostatic agents, autotransfusion, and blood-sparing perfusion and surgical techniques. Additionally, changes in practice of clinicians (e.g., adherence to restrictive, evidence-based transfusion strategies with emphasis on physiologic indications for transfusion, minimization of iatrogenic blood loss, and adequate planning) play an important role in patient blood management. Emerging evidence supports that appropriate use of these strategies as part of a multimodal program is a safe and effective way of reducing allogeneic transfusions and improving patient outcomes.
© 2012 Mount Sinai School of Medicine.