About Englewood Hospital and Medical Center


2013 Press Releases


The Blood Transfusion Question: What Patients Should Ask Their Doctors Before Surgery

-Englewood Hospital Experts Advocate for Greater Patient Awareness about Transfusion Dangers-

(Englewood, NJ, September 16, 2013) – A growing body of research shows blood transfusions are linked to an increased risk of infection following heart surgery. Experts at The Institute for Patient Blood Management and Bloodless Medicine and Surgery at Englewood Hospital and Medical Center (EHMC) emphasize that the findings of two recent studies underscore the critical need for increasing patient awareness about alternative options to transfusions for major and minor surgery.

One study appeared in The Annals of Thoracic Surgery (June 2013) and suggested patients who receive blood transfusions during heart surgery have a higher risk of developing infection than patients who do not receive transfusions. An article in The Lancet (May 2013) revealed an overuse of transfusions during and after heart surgery, despite evidence showing this practice is not always appropriate.

“We are excited that such well respected medical journals and organizations are documenting the health benefits of patient blood management,” said Sherri Ozawa, RN, Clinical Director of the Institute for Patient Blood Management and Bloodless Medicine and Surgery at EHMC. “Research continues to echo our own findings in improved patient outcomes in cardiac surgery using a blood conservation-oriented approach. This further demonstrates the need for patients to be informed and discuss the issue of blood management and avoiding transfusion with their doctor. ”

Transfusion-free surgery, also known as “bloodless surgery,” has been the standard of care for nearly twenty years at EHMC. The Medical Center was one of the first in the U.S. to create a patient blood management program using sophisticated techniques, modalities and therapies to enhance a patient’s own blood supply. During surgery, advanced devices collect, clean and return the blood to the patient, which ultimately eliminates the need for a transfusion.

“Many folks may still be fearful of the AIDS issue when it comes to blood transfusions, but there are other lesser-known and more common dangers that can also cause potentially deadly complications,” explained Ozawa. “An estimated 40-percent of patients undergo elective surgery with anemia that can be treated beforehand. Untreated anemic patients are at higher risk for receiving transfusions, as well as developing cardiac, lung, and multiple other complications, after surgery. These risks can be limited or avoided completely and we have seen first-hand the benefits of this effective, proven transfusion-free method.”

Benefits include better patient outcomes, shorter hospital stays, less time spent in the intensive care unit, and in some cases, a lower risk of repeat surgeries. Bloodless Medicine programs continue to gain popularity worldwide, as many healthcare facilities are now working to implement their own. The Joint Commission is currently leading an effort to develop a Patient Blood Management certification program that combines patient-centered care with safe and effective blood conservation strategies, as a way for hospitals nationwide to limit the need for transfusions.

“While this technique has gained greater acceptance within the medical community, the patient is an equally important part of the surgery process,” said Ozawa. “We want to encourage patients to play an active role in their care. We look at a patient’s blood as a vital organ. In the same way patients may ask about pain management or activity as part of preparing for surgery, we would also like to see the same type of questions asked about the care of blood before surgery.” 

EHMC experts advise patients to know their options and offer the following points to discuss with their care team before surgery:

  • How can I prepare for surgery?  

  • What can I do before surgery to reduce my risk of bleeding or improve the condition of

    my blood?

  • How will my hospital address surgical bleeding in the operating room?

  • What are the risks and benefits of an alternative to blood transfusion?  

For more information, visit www.englewoodhospital.com, click on the “Medical Services” tab and select “Bloodless Medicine and Surgery.” Or, call The Institute at 1-888-766-2566. To see EHMC’s Bloodless program in the news, visit our YouTube channel at EnglewoodHospitalNJ.

About Englewood Hospital and Medical Center
Englewood Hospital and Medical Center provides the highest level of compassionate, patient care and safety through a broad range of advanced clinical programs, treatments and diagnostic services. It is renowned for its bloodless medicine and surgery program, cardiac and vascular programs and its leadership in breast care, oncology and joint replacement services. Through its affiliation with the Mount Sinai School of Medicine and the Mount Sinai Consortium for Graduate Medical Education, this acute-care and community teaching hospital trains medical residents in many disciplines, including internal medicine, critical care medicine, surgery, pediatrics, podiatry, and pathology.  Its Vascular Fellowship Program has trained a generation of world-class vascular surgeons.  Additionally, many members of Englewood Hospital’s medical staff serve as faculty at Mount Sinai. Englewood Hospital has earned numerous accreditations from the Joint Commission and other organizations and is among the six-percent of hospitals nationwide honored with the prestigious Magnet nursing award, a distinction that has been earned three times by its nursing staff.