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Blood Transfusions & Infection Risk

Blood Transfusions & Infection Risk

Studies have shown that red blood cell (RBC) transfusions are commonly performed, with approximately 14 million units transfused in 2011 in the United States. RBC transfusions can modulate the immune system, which in turn may impact infection risk. One approach in blood management is to use a restrictive threshold transfusion strategy in which the hemoglobin thresholds at which RBC transfusions are indicated are lowered. “The restrictive strategy is recommended by guidelines, but only about 27% of hospitals report using them after surgery,” says Jeffrey M. Rohde, MD. In addition, only 31% of hospitals report having a blood management program in place to optimize the care of patients who might need a transfusion. A Systematic Review & Meta-Analysis Dr. Rohde and colleagues conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of 21 randomized trials that compared restrictive and liberal RBC transfusion strategies. Published in JAMA, the article evaluated whether RBC transfusion thresholds were associated with risk of infection and whether these risks were independent of leukocyte reduction. The study included more than 8,700 patients who met eligibility criteria. All healthcare-associated infections reported after receiving donor blood in randomized trials were evaluated, including serious infections like pneumonia and bloodstream and wound infections. According to the results, a restrictive RBC transfusion strategy reduced the risk of healthcare-associated infections when compared with a liberal transfusion strategy. “The more RBCs that patients received, the greater their risk was for infection,” says Dr. Rohde. “The fewer the RBC transfusions, the less likely hospitalized patients were to develop infections.” He adds that these findings were most likely due to transfusion-associated immunomodulation. Overall, for every 38 hospitalized patients considered...
Making the Case to Include EDs in Readmission Rates

Making the Case to Include EDs in Readmission Rates

In recent years, CMS has invested heavily in policies, incentives, and other interventions to encourage healthcare providers to improve transitions in care and reduce avoidable readmissions. Studies have shown that many patients return to the hospital via the ED within 30 days of discharge, but specifications for measuring rehospitalization vary. “Unless patients are readmitted to the hospital through the ED, they aren’t being counted in measurements of readmissions,” says Kristin L. Rising, MD. “By limiting the focus to inpatient-to-inpatient events and omitting ED visits, we’re missing a substantial source of healthcare utilization that is managed solely in the ED.” Patients may be effectively stabilized and discharged from the ED shortly after hospital discharge, but few data are available on the frequency and cost of ED visits after such discharges. Previous analyses have found that 40% of patients who sought acute medical care had multiple visits for inpatient or ED stays. About one-quarter of these patients had multiple inpatient stays, whereas one-third had multiple ED treat-and-release visits. Taking a Comprehensive Approach to Readmission Factors According to Dr. Rising, a comprehensive approach to understanding the factors that contribute to subsequent healthcare use in the post-hospital discharge period should include a closer look at ED use within 30 days of hospital discharge. In a retrospective study published in Annals of Emergency Medicine, Dr. Rising and colleagues examined 15,519 patient discharge records over a 5-month period. Nearly one-quarter (23.8%) of these discharges resulted in at least one ED visit within the subsequent 30 days, and more than half (54.0%) of these visits resulted in discharge back home. The median number of ED visits per patient...
Examining Trends in HF Hospitalizations

Examining Trends in HF Hospitalizations

According to recent estimates, heart failure (HF) is one of the most common reasons for hospital admission in the United States. Efforts have been made to reduce the number of hospitalizations related to HF, and several therapies have been developed over the last 20 years that have been shown to reduce disease-related hospitalizations. Furthermore, quality improvement initiatives are being developed and launched to ensure the appropriate delivery of evidence-based therapies in HF. CMS has been reporting on the quality of care and rate of HF rehospitalization for hospitals in an effort to encourage quality improvement initiatives. “While previous analyses have shown that rates of HF hospitalizations increased in the 1980s and 1990s, more recent CMS data indicate that hospitalizations with a primary diagnosis of HF in the elderly declined over the last decade,” explains Saul B. Blecker, MD, MHS. “These findings have been attributed to improvements in treatment and reductions in prevalent HF. However, most hospitalizations involving these patients are for reasons other than acute HF.” Gaining Perspective on Secondary HF Hospitalizations Quality improvement initiatives typically target only hospitalizations with a primary diagnosis of HF. As a result, these initiatives may not affect comorbid conditions that are associated with HF but are not directly caused by it. “Characterizing trends in hospitalizations with HF as a primary or secondary diagnosis can help clinicians further understand and recognize the role of cardiac disease and non-cardiac conditions,” Dr. Blecker says. “It can also help educate future initiatives to improve quality improvement initiatives.” A study by Dr. Blecker and colleagues published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology evaluated trends in...
Managing Depression After Acute Coronary Syndrome

Managing Depression After Acute Coronary Syndrome

Each year, about 1.2 million Americans survive an acute coronary syndrome (ACS) event, many of whom have clinically significant and persistent depression. “Post- ACS depression has been associated with higher risk of ACS recurrence and a doubling of increased risk of all-cause mortality,” explains Karina W. Davidson, PhD. “Persistent depression after an ACS event correlates with an even higher morbidity and mortality risk. Considering its burden on the healthcare system, efforts to reduce persistent post- ACS depression are important.” Despite knowledge of these associations, routine management of depression after ACS events remains poor. Historically, clinicians have been inefficient in screening for depression and lack effective approaches to treating it. Further compounding the problem are the weak effects often linked to depression treatments and limited options if initial therapies and efforts fail. For patients who have had an ACS event, psychotherapy and/or psychotropic medications are oftentimes not integrated into care. The CODIACS Vanguard Trial At ACC.13, Dr. Davidson and colleagues presented results from the Comparison of Depression Interventions after Acute Coronary Syndrome (CODIACS) Vanguard trial. It was designed to determine the feasibility, efficacy, and costs of a centralized, stepped, patient preference–based depression care system for patients after experiencing an ACS event. The study, which was also published in JAMA Internal Medicine, involved 150 patients who had depression scores of 10 or higher (out of 60) on the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) scale 2 to 6 months after an ACS event. “CODIACS Vanguard was designed to provide depression treatment several months after an ACS,” explains Dr. Davidson, who was lead author of the trial. “This is when most transient depressive reactions...

Protecting Older, Vulnerable Patients From the Flu

People aged 65 and older account for more than 60% of the estimated 226,000 flu-related hospitalizations and 90% of the 3,000 to 49,000 flu-related deaths in the United States each year. This age group is at highest risk for contracting influenza and developing its potentially serious complications, including pneumonia, bronchitis, sinus and ear infections, and coronary problems. Flu symptoms can even exacerbate other comorbid conditions. This puts patients at greater risk for complications and reduces quality of life. Collectively, these health issues can result in hospitalization and even death in older patients. Be Vigilant of Those at Higher Risk for Flu As the 2012-2013 influenza season continues and we look ahead to the next, it’s important to improve community-wide vaccination rates so that we can protect public health, especially when treating adults aged 65 and up. Seniors are at higher risk for influenza because the immune system weakens with age. In turn, the body’s ability to produce a sufficient amount of protective antibodies is reduced. When considering influenza vaccine resources for the season, it’s important to offer a variety of vaccine options and newer delivery systems. Merle C. Turner, DO A few years ago, the healthcare world received good news when a higher dose of the influenza vaccine was approved by the FDA for older patients. Designed for those aged 65 and older, the vaccine generates a stronger immune response because it contains four times the amount of antigen as the standard dose. While the high-dose vaccine has shown a higher risk for side effects at the injection site, there is no greater risk of a systemic reaction than...
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