Tina Palmieri, M.D., assistant chief of burns at Shriners Hospitals for Children — Northern California, presented findings from a multicenter blood transfusion study at the 137th annual meeting of the American Surgical Association in Philadelphia on April 21.
Multicenter Randomized Prospective Trial of Blood Transfusion in Major Burn Injury was the title of the presentation in which Dr. Palmieri identified blood transfusion practices that could save $30 million annually in treating burn patients in the United States. Sixteen burn centers participated in the study, which was funded by the Department of Defense. It was one of only 32 studies selected for presentation at the national meeting of ASA, the nation’s oldest and most prestigious surgical organization.
"The purpose of the study was to identify the best strategy for transfusing blood after burn injury," said Dr. Palmieri, adding that the trial revealed the following: "We compared a traditional approach to blood transfusion, in which blood is transfused at a blood count (hemoglobin) of 10 g/dL to a new restrictive approach, which transfuses at a blood count of 7 g/dL. The new restrictive approach reduced the number of transfusions by 50 percent without compromising survival, wound healing, or organ function. Using less blood will also likely decrease the transmission of infection, such as hepatitis, in burn patients."
According to data provided by the American Burn Association, more than 486,000 people were treated for burn injuries in the United States in 2016. Of those, 40,000 were hospitalized for care.
"Patients with severe burn injuries often require blood transfusions. The goal of our research is to identify ways in which we can reduce the risks associated with transfusion, including infection and stress, so patients can enjoy a healthy recovery," said Dr. Palmieri.
The following burn centers participated in the study: