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Blood supply shortage update

02 Jan 2022

Mitigation strategies in place to conserve red blood cell transfusion

By: Karl Kamper, MBA, MT(ASCP), FACHE, director of laboratory services

On Dec.16, we published adjusted criteria for appropriate transfusion of red blood cell products. This was due to the ongoing blood product shortage being experienced by the American Red Cross and other organizations that provide blood products for patient care nationwide and in the Pacific Northwest. Thanks to your efforts, we were able to significantly reduce transfusions of Group O Red Blood Cells over the last two weeks. We anticipate that Group O Red Blood Cells will be in short supply through the month of January.

As a reminder, the following mitigation strategies are in place to conserve red blood cell transfusion:

  1. Requests to transfuse patients with hemoglobin level of greater than 6.0 mg/dL will prompt review of indications and contact between the pathologist on call and the ordering provider.
  2. Whenever possible, outpatient RBC transfusions will be limited to one unit.
  3. For hospitalized patients, RBC transfusions will be transfused one unit at a time with re-check of hemoglobin/HCT after each unit.
  4. Blood requested under emergency release will not be subject to the above.

These steps have allowed us to preserve access to blood products. At this time, surgical procedures are not being postponed based solely on blood supply. Salem Health continues to encourage anyone needing hospital-level care to not delay care.