By Josh Grossberg

Keck Medical Center of USC will host the annual meeting of the Society for the Advancement of Blood Management. The theme for the annual meeting, which will run Sept. 19-21 at the Sheraton Los Angeles Downtown Hotel, is “Patient Blood Management — From Bench to Bedside.” The event will give health care professionals from all over the world the opportunity to learn some of the latest trends and techniques in how hospitals can use less blood during medical procedures — or none at all.Co-chairing the symposium from USC are Rick Selby, professor and division chief of hepatobiliary, pancreas and abdominal organ transplantation; and Randy Henderson, director of transfusion-free surgery and blood management.

During the symposium, USC physicians will talk about the evolution of transfusion-free medical and surgical practice at Keck Hospital. USC physicians have pioneered the field of blood conservation in many ways. This program began in 1997 and has increased in volume and clinical sophistication over the years.

“We have published widely on blood conservation in transplantation as well as nontransplant surgical procedures,” Selby said. “Our program is state-of-the-art in this country, and one of our goals with the program is to disseminate the technology and implementation strategies for this type of program.”

Though blood supplies are safer than ever, Selby said that the act of blood transfusion is inherently troublesome. Not only can blood be in short supply, avoiding it in medical procedures is both cheaper for hospitals and safer for patients. Those who do not receive transfusions recover faster and get fewer postoperative infections.

“The issue of safety isn’t about viral disease transmission in the transfused blood product,” Selby said. “It’s really related to the immune suppression that occurs to the transfusion recipient purely on the basis of receiving the blood from someone else, known as allogeneic transfusion.

“Under these circumstances the risk of simple bacterial infections are as much as 30 percent higher — regardless of the operative procedure employed,” he continued. “Lengths of stay and costs both rise, and that is where the tangible risks — to both patients and hospitals — lie.”

Selby and Henderson said that by using new technologies, including the practice of blood augmentation and intra-operative auto-donation, hospitals can reduce their reliance on outside blood supplies by 50 percent or greater.

For all the benefits, it takes some convincing to get caregivers to rethink their transfusion practices.

“It’s really a question of getting rid of old habits, which really die hard,” Selby said.

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