Feb. 27 (UPI) -- Transfusion rates of red blood cells and plasma have decreased among hospitalized patients in the United States, according to researchers.
Rates of two types of blood transfusions, one of the most common hospital procedures, decreased from 2011 to 2014, according to a study published Tuesday in the Journal of American Medical Association.
Researchers at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York and Johns Hopkins in Baltimore examined 20 percent of all U.S. hospital inpatient discharges during that period to examine trends in transfusions of red blood cells, plasma and platelets. The study was limited to inpatient transfusions.
Nearly 21 million blood components are transfused each year in the United States, according to the American Red Cross. In 2013, blood transfusions declined almost 33 percent to about 11 million units -- which are made of components -- from five years earlier, according to the American Red Cross in a 2014 report by The New York Times.
In an attempt to improve patient care, surgical methods that require fewer pints of blood or none all are being utilized. As a result, costs are reduced and blood is conserved.
"Observed decreases in red blood cell and plasma transfusions may demonstrate the safety of restricting red blood cell transfusions, blood management programs and blood conservation initiatives," the authors concluded.
The proportion of hospitalized patients who received a blood cell transfusion was 5.7 percent in 2014 compared with 6.8 percent in 2011.
For plasma transfusion, the rate was .85 percent in 2014 and 1.0 percent in 2011.
Platelet transfusions remained stable at .99 percent.
All three rates were greatly lower in 1993, when the study's data began.
A significantly greater decrease in red blood cell transfusions was seen for elective admissions (6.6 percent in 2011 vs. 4.8 percent in 2014).
Statistically significant reductions in those transfusions were seen among all sex, race/ethnicities, patient risk severities, payer type and admission types.
But no statistically significant reductions were found in children younger than 18 years old or at private investor-owned hospitals.