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27 August, 2020

Research recently published in the journal Anaesthesia, looked at the economic case for screening and treating anaemia and iron deficiency prior to elective surgery. The five-year study compared patients whose blood was screened by a Patient Blood Management clinic with patients receiving usual care prior to colorectal surgery, and found the clinic was cost-effective.

“Patient Blood Management has been described as the new standard of care and has been shown to improve patient health outcomes”, Dr Hamish Mace, who implemented the pre-operative clinic in 2016, said. “It is well known that treating anaemia and iron deficiency prior to surgery reduces transfusions, but questions have been asked around its cost-effectiveness.”

The analysis included all costs associated with the care such as the cost of screening and treating patients prior to their admission, and the cost of the subsequent hospital admission. The main finding was that the additional costs of running the pre-surgical clinic were outweighed several-fold by the reduced cost of hospital admission, leading to a saving of AU$3776 per patient (US$2629; €2325).  In addition, patients screened and treated by the clinic were transfused half the amount of blood when compared to those not screened. The researchers suggest these cost savings may be a result of reductions in patient complications linked to iron deficiency, anaemia and transfusion.

The research findings are likely to attract international attention given anaemia is a global public health issue and is common. “A substantial number of patients booked for surgery have anaemia or low levels of iron”, Mr Kevin Trentino, lead author for the cost-effectiveness analysis, said. “In our study this was true for 1 in every 2-3 patients screened.”

Ms Kylie Symons, Patient Blood Management Nurse since the clinic’s implementation, said: “It is an honour to be involved in an area of healthcare where improving the pre-surgical management and outcomes of individual patients has also resulted in a reduction of hospital costs.”

“If you were to extrapolate the results it suggests there are considerable cost savings available to healthcare systems worldwide by addressing anaemia and iron deficiency prior to surgery” Dr Mace added.

 

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