Washington, Aug 6 (ANI): A new study has found that blood transfusions can quadruple the risk of death among hospitalized cardiac patients.
The analysis of nearly 25,000 Medicare patients in Michigan also showed that transfusion practices can double the risk of infections in the genitourinary system, respiratory tract, bloodstream, digestive tract and skin.
"Doctors are simply doing what they were trained to do, but it turns out that their actions are more harmful than helpful in many cases," said study co-author Dr Neil Blumberg, professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine and director of Transfusion Medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Centre.
"This is an instance in which clinical practice got way ahead of research.
"And changing the liberal use of transfusions is going to be difficult despite the evidence showing it is usually not essential," he added.
The researchers suggest that blood transfusions for hospitalized cardiac patients should be a last resort.
Blumberg and lead author Dr Mary Rogers, of the University of Michigan Health System, analysed patient records in 40 hospitals, from admission to 30 days after discharge.
All had received coronary artery bypass graft surgery from 2003 to 2006.
They found that 30 percent of variation in transfusion practices seemed to be due to widely varied practices among hospital sites.
Blood use among women patients ranged from 72.5 percent to 100 percent, and blood use among men varied from about 50 percent to 100 percent.
The study said that transfusions with donor blood were associated with infections of the genitourinary system, respiratory tract, bloodstream, digestive tract and skin.
The risk of death in the hospital was nearly 5 times greater among patients who received a blood transfusion, and the risk of death in the next 30 days was nearly three times greater.
Blumberg said that some of the risk may've been due to the underlying condition that led to transfusion but an increasingly convincing body of evidence demonstrates that some of the effect is almost certainly due to the transfusion itself.
"Blood transfusions are certainly necessary in life-threatening situations," Blumberg said.
"But this study and other studies confirm they should be a last resort, not a first resort, as they often are," he added.
The study appears in the journal, BMC Medicine. (ANI)