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Explainer: What Is Patient Blood Management?

Health authorities, including the World Health Organization, endorse an approach called patient blood management (PBM) to preserve and safeguard a patient’s own blood while promoting patient safety and empowerment.

a heart inside a drop of blood

“Life blood” is an expression we use to tag something as essential, so it’s no surprise that our own blood is critical to health. An adult’s body contains 1 to 1.5 gallons (4-6 liters) of blood, responsible for transporting oxygen to organs and cells and many other functions.

Patient blood management (PBM) acknowledges the risks of anemia, blood loss and bleeding disorders and, as described by the World Health Organization, it’s “a systematic, multidisciplinary, multiprofessional concept to routinely minimize for these risk factors.”

See the WHO policy brief urging health care entities to implement PBM and to create awareness about the significant, underappreciated global disease burden of iron deficiency and iron deficiency anemia, blood loss and bleeding disorders.

This way of looking at a patient’s well-being touches several of CSL’s business units. CSL Vifor is a leader in iron deficiency while CSL Behring researches and manufactures medicines for bleeding disorders. CSL Vifor, acquired in 2022, and CSL Behring are working together to advance PBM.

Patient blood management seeks to improve surgical and medical patient outcomes by optimally managing and preserving a patient’s own blood. It has three basic aims: to diagnose and appropriately correct anemia and iron deficiency, to minimize blood loss and bleeding and to support the patient while appropriate treatment is initiated instead of reverting to blood transfusion.

PBM practice addresses the relationship between iron deficiency, iron deficiency anemia and surgery, a time when blood loss must be managed. Having anemia prior to surgery is associated with increases in length of hospital stay, surgical complications, mortality and increased need of blood transfusions, according to the journal Anesthesiology. Treating preoperative anemia through PBM leads to reduced morbidity, reduced hospital stays, reduced hospital costs, without increasing in-hospital mortality, and even reducing it.

“PBM’s central tenet is the use of every appropriate measure to protect and manage a patient’s own blood, in a manner that is tailored to the needs of the individual patient,” according to the WHO.

PBM also reduces the demand for donated blood, which is often in short supply.

Large observational studies on PBM, including anemia management, have demonstrated PBM’s effectiveness in improving patient outcomes. Moreover, studies around the world have shown that the implementation of PBM can help lower hospital costs and benefit national health care budgets. 

One real-world-study of more than 600,000 patients in Western Australia confirmed these findings and demonstrated cost savings of more than $80 million dollars, according to the journal Transfusion.

For more information, visit if you reside in Europe.

U.S. residents can find more info at the International Foundation for Patient Blood Management.