Blood Transfusion Unsafe And Expensive –Experts

Medical experts have said use of blood transfusion in treating patients is not evidence-based medical practice.

The experts also noted that transfusion of blood into patients was unsafe and expensive.

At a two-day scientific conference organised by the Bloodless Medicine and Surgery Society, University of Calabar Teaching Hospital, Cross River State in Nigeria , the Education and Curriculum Director of the BMSS, Prof. Etim Ekanem, told SUNDAY PUNCH that a curriculum would be developed to keep Nigerian medical personnel abreast of modern medicine.

“Apart from the dangers of blood transfusion and blood products management, blood is becoming scarce due to fewer donors and to process few units of blood is expensive.

“A unit of blood can cost about N15, 000 excluding the cost of managing a patient,” Ekanem said.

According to the Head, Bloodless Surgery Unit, UCTH, Dr. Nathaniel Usoro, medical scientists have not proven the efficacy of blood transfusion.

“Modern practice of medicine is evidence-based, and use of any therapy requires proof of efficacy.  After decades of blood transfusion, medical scientists are unable to prove its efficacy.

“Rather, evidence of harm continues to accumulate, not just hazards, but adverse outcome in transfused patients compared to non-transfused patients,” he said.

Usoro also drew attention to the risks involved in blood transfusion.

According to him, when screening blood for donation, laboratories usually test for only HIV, hepatitis B, C and syphilis.

“Even in good laboratories, donor blood is routinely tested for only four pathogens: HIV, hepatitis B, C and syphilis. Many laboratories do not test at all,” he said.

During blood transfusion, he said the blood recipient could be exposed to “transmission of infection, delayed hemolytic, allergic and febrile reactions.”

Other risks, he said, included circulatory overload, iron overload, hypothermia and clerical error.

“We have made several presentations on bloodless care to hospitals in various parts of the country.  We have also made several presentations to professional bodies. However, many doctors are unaware of the newer information regarding transfusion, while some are stuck to medical tradition and resist change regarding transfusion practices,” Usoro said.

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