Blood transfusion may be essential, even life-saving in the management of various conditions. However, donated blood has various risks with potential adverse events and is a limited resource. PBM can help improve patient outcomes by promoting the use of transfusion of blood and components only when clearly required. This minimises unnecessary transfusion, reducing the risk of adverse events and thereby conserving limited donor blood for patients with the greatest need.
In elective surgery the principles of PBM have been described as the so called '3 pillars' namely:
- Optimizing the patient's own blood (e.g. pre-operative optimization of haemoglobin and haemostasis)
- Minimising surgical blood loss
- Optimizing the patient's physiological reserve in relation to anaemia (including use of restrictive transfusion triggers)
However the key principles of PBM apply not just to surgery but to all patients who may need a blood transfusion (medical, obstetric, paediatrics), and to both elective and emergency clinical settings.
The overall use of red cells is decreasing in many countries but large audits still show much inappropriate use. Greater scrutiny is also needed in relation to appropriate use of platelet and plasma transfusion.
Accordingly, PBM covers all aspects of decision-making in transfusion therapy, including patient evaluation and clinical management with use of appropriate indications and triggers, minimization of blood loss and optimization of the patient's own red cell mass. By reducing the need for allogeneic blood transfusions and minimising risks and unnecessary work, PBM can also reduce health-care costs.