Northwest Texas Healthcare Transfusion Program Unique in US


Northwest Texas Healthcare System (NWTHS) is one of the few hospitals in the United States that has a Blood Management Program. It is also one of a smaller number of hospitals that employs a Transfusion Safety Officer (TSO). The Blood Management Program adheres to crucial safety standards to administer blood and blood products to patients, providing reassurance to patients who may need transfusions following surgery, trauma or illness.

When Transfusions are Needed

Physicians may recommend that patients receive one or a combination of blood products, including red blood cells, platelets, plasma and cryoprecipitate. Red blood cells carry oxygen from the lungs and distribute it to body cells, and collect carbon dioxide from body cells and take it to the lungs, where it is exhaled. Platelets stop bleeding from injuries, while plasma aids in clotting. Cryoprecipitate is a mix of the clotting elements found in plasma.

Program Goals

The goals of the blood management program are to:

  • Monitor safety procedures and educate hospital staff
  • Prevent unnecessary transfusions
  • Administer blood or blood products as safely as possible
  • Avoid unnecessary treatments to help reduce healthcare costs for patients
  • Conserve the community's vital blood supply

Guidelines for Transfusion

Northwest Texas Healthcare System's Guidelines for Transfusion have been approved by a group of well-respected physicians in various specialties throughout the Amarillo/Panhandle region. The guidelines are consulted daily to confirm that transfusion orders are in compliance. Raising awareness of the appropriate use of blood and blood products is important to help ensure that patients are transfused only when necessary.

Transfusion Process Review

To fulfill NWTHS's mission to provide safe, quality healthcare to our patients, the transfusion process is reviewed regularly. From the moment blood products are picked up at the blood bank to the time the patient is transfused, the TSO accompanies hospital staff to evaluate compliance with the transfusion policy.

Transfusion Safety

The nursing staff of Northwest Texas Healthcare System works constantly to meet the highest national standards for blood transfusion safety. Nurses closely monitor patients so they can identify and resolve any problems that may occur. The TSO may accompany nurses during a transfusion to ensure compliance with the transfusion policy.

Reducing the Need for Transfusion

People who have low red blood cell counts, also known as anemia, are more likely to need a red blood cell transfusion when they are in the hospital than patients who have normal red blood cell counts. Diets that include iron and Vitamin B-12 rich meats such as lean red meat, poultry, pork, liver, oysters, shrimp, and shellfish and iron rich fruits and vegetables such as beans, broccoli, spinach, plums and kale can help maintain normal red blood cell counts and reduce a patient's chances of needing a transfusion.

Risks Associated With Transfusions

There is a slight risk of infection, such as with HIV or hepatitis, as a result of a transfusion, but this is rare, due to donor screening and tests on donor blood products. There are also non-infectious risks such as slower wound healing time, an increased risk of infection, transfusion-related acute lung injury, transfusion-associated circulatory overload, allergic reaction and a longer hospital stay.

Blood Donor Community

Northwest Texas Healthcare System greatly appreciates the efforts of the community in donating blood to our local blood collection center, Coffee Memorial Blood Center. Using blood responsibly and working to eliminate inappropriate use and waste of blood products are the best ways NWTHS can show its appreciation for donors.

Visit the Coffee Memorial Blood Center to learn about donating blood >