Like Hand-Washing, Blood Transfusions Linked to Infections

Apr. 3, 2014

Doing fewer blood transfusions reduces infection rates by nearly 20 percent, according to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association co-authored by Neil Blumberg, M.D., professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine.blood transfusion bag

As director of transfusion medicine and the blood bank at UR Medicine, Blumberg for more than 25 years has been investigating how to make transfusions safer. The JAMA study is the first to show conclusively, through a study of 18 randomized clinical trials involving 8,735 patients, that fewer transfusions save lives, he said.

He compared the sea change that’s occurring in transfusion medicine to the 19th and 20th century recognition that hand-washing reduces infections.

“Many people are beginning to accept that we can make a difference – despite being taught in medical school that blood transfusions ‘might help and can’t hurt,’ “ Blumberg said. “What we’ve found is actually the opposite, that it can hurt and it rarely helps.”

To read the JAMA study, please click here.

For the full press release, click here.