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Blood Conservation

Exploring Alternatives to Blood Transfusions

Hudgins, Kerstin, MSN, RN, CCRN, CEN; Carter, Esther, BSN, RN, CMSN

doi: 10.1097/CNQ.0000000000000252
Original Articles

The conservation of blood products and the use of alternatives to blood transfusion are the best practice. Patients treated with blood conservation techniques will have a reduced risk of blood-borne diseases and a reduced risk of human error that can occur during blood processing. The bedside nurse plays a vital role in educating the patient and the caregiver regarding risks, benefits, and alternatives. A combination of techniques explored focuses on minimizing blood loss, building the patient's own blood supply, or both. Medications, herbs, and supplements can increase bleeding and place the patient at risk for a transfusion. Evidence from a variety of sources indicates that postoperative patients who receive a blood transfusion will have a harder time with wound healing and overall recovery. Allogeneic blood transfusions can induce clinically significant immunosuppression, as well as other effects in recipients, to include a re-occurrence of cancer. For the Jehovah's Witnesses patient, receiving blood transfusions against their conscience is equal to rape. Therefore, appropriate management entails an understanding of ethical and legal issues involved. Providing meticulous medical care, such as essential interventions and techniques to reduce blood loss, can minimize the risk of subsequent need for blood transfusions and decrease the financial burden to the health care system and its consumers.

School of Nursing, Fayetteville State University, Fayetteville, North Carolina (Ms Hudgins). Ms Carter is a telephone triage nurse at Cape Fear Valley Medical Center, Fayetteville, North Carolina.

Correspondence: Kerstin Hudgins, MSN, RN, CCRN, CEN, School of Nursing, Fayetteville State University, Fayetteville, NC 28301 (

The authors have disclosed that they have no significant relationships with, or financial interest in, any commercial companies pertaining to this article.

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