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When Transfusion Is Not an Option—the Challenges and Rewards

Schwab, Rita CPMSM; Kosoglow, Molly BSN, RN; Philp, Frances Hite MS; Suydam, Erin MD, FACS

doi: 10.1097/CNQ.0000000000000219
Original Articles

The decision to develop a formal Bloodless Medicine Program to attract and effectively care for patients who decline blood transfusion was made in 1998 by clinical and administrative leaders at our flagship hospital, Allegheny General Hospital, part of the Allegheny Health Network. The Bloodless Medicine Program has more than 20 years of experience in caring for this sometimes challenging patient population and with this experience has provided extensive insight into best practices related to effective, safe, patient blood management. Patient blood management is a patient-centered, evidence-based approach to transfusion that seeks to provide the right care, in the right setting, in the right way, every time. It includes honoring the wishes of patients who decline blood products in their care, that is, “bloodless” medicine. Encouraging patients to participate in their own health care decisions is a vital part of safe, compassionate care. When called upon to provide care to a patient who declines a common therapy such as blood transfusion, clinicians must often develop alternative strategies to achieve the desired results. Their willingness to think creatively and push boundaries has resulted in significant advancement of clinical knowledge and practice related to the use of blood products for all patients. Nurses who advocate for the best care for their patients are a vital component of any successful patient blood management program.

Patient Blood Management, Allegheny Health Network, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (Ms Schwab); and Allegheny Health Network, Allegheny General Hospital, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (Mss Kosoglow and Philp and Dr Suydam).

Correspondence: Rita Schwab, CPMSM, Patient Blood Management, Allegheny Health Network, 30 Isabella St, Pittsburgh, PA 15212 (

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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