written on 13.05.2020

Experts Underscore Essential Role for Patient Blood Management (PBM) in and beyond the COVID-19 Pandemic

  • Blood services and health authorities warn that a decline in donations due to COVID-19 could result in blood shortages, forcing frontline health care providers to face further difficult clinical decisions; [1],[2]
  • An international group of 43 medical experts points at a win-win concept to reduce transfusion while improving patient outcomes. Evidence-based Patient Blood Management (PBM) improves morbidity and mortality while significantly reducing donor blood utilization; 1
  • The widespread adoption of PBM is long overdue. In this time of crisis, the need for PBM is more apparent than ever.


20th April, 2020 – In a new article published in Anesthesia & Analgesia, a group of 43 leading experts have called for health systems to fast-track the implementation of Patient Blood Management (PBM).2

The International Foundation for Patient Blood Management (IFPBM) and Society for the Advancement of Blood Management (SABM) point to PBM, an evidence-based approach that optimizes medical and surgical patient outcomes by preserving a patient’s own blood, while significantly reducing our dependency on transfusions.1

Due to COVID-19 related social distancing and blood drive cancellations, concerns are growing over severe blood shortages in some countries. In the UK, around 5,000 units of blood are used every day by the health service, but in late March donations were 15% lower than expected.[i] Blood carries a shelf life of only 42 days, and it is unclear how long pandemic measures that influence donations will need to continue.

While blood services focus on maintaining a sufficient blood supply, it’s possible to significantly reduce blood demand. PBM provides a solution where clinicians can manage, improve and preserve the patients’ own blood, rather than resorting to donor blood in the first place.

“Clinicians all around the world are under pressure and facing near impossible decisions. Nobody knows when things will return to normal. In these uncertain times, it’s more important than ever to take advantage of the compelling benefits of PBM and reduce our reliance on blood – a limited, perishable commodity. COVID-19 should be a wakeup call for healthcare providers to start practicing PBM on a broad scale without further delay” explains Prof. Aryeh Shander, a world-renowned expert in PBM and one of the initiators of this Call-to-Action.

PBM was first endorsed in 2010. Its common-sense principles have been recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO), the European Commission and many countries around the world. Numerous studies, several randomized controlled trials and meta-analyses have demonstrated that PBM significantly reduces surgical complications, infections rates
and mortality.1

The COVID-19 pandemic poses substantial challenges, that have left no one worldwide unaffected. Medical contributions―large or small―are urgently needed to provide the optimal and most compassionate care while using every modality to conserve resource. Against this backdrop, the 43 co-authors, International Foundation for Patient Blood Management (IFPBM) and Society for the Advancement of Blood Management (SABM) urge all health systems to adopt the common-sense principles of PBM without delay.



About the International Foundation for Patient Blood Management (IFPBM)

The International Foundation for Patient Blood Management (IFPBM) is a Swiss foundation headquartered in Basel, Switzerland. IFPBM is a multi-disciplinary organization whose core purpose is to improve patient safety and outcomes in clinical practice through optimal Patient Blood Management. IFPBM promotes evidence-based cost-effective practice through education and training, facilitating the highest standard of health care.


About the Society for The Advancement of Blood  Management (SABM)

SABM is an US based  International  Non-Profit Medical Society with a mission to improve patient outcomes through optimal patient blood management.


About Patient Blood Management (PBM)

PBM is defined as an evidence-based bundle of care to optimize medical and surgical patient outcomes by clinically managing and preserving a patient’s own blood.1

In the context of COVID-19, increasing strain will be placed on blood supplies as the number of donors decreases. PBM helps reduce transfusion dependency, thus reducing the strain on the blood supply side.

Studies show that PBM can help patients by decreasing the average length of time patients remain in hospital, reducing surgical complications, reducing unnecessary interventions, decreasing infection while helping health care providers to reduce escalating costs.[4]


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[1] Food and Drug Administration. Donate COVID-19 Plasma. [online] Available at: https://www.fda.gov/emergency-preparedness-and-response/coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19/donate-covid-19-plasma Last accessed, April 2020.

[2] Shander, A, et al (2020). The Essential Role of Patient Blood Management in a Pandemic: A Call for Action. Anesthesia & Analgesia. [online] Available at: https://journals.lww.com/anesthesia-analgesia/Abstract/publishahead/The_Essential_Role_of_Patient_Blood_Management_in.95719.aspx  Last accessed, April 2020.

[3] NHS Blood and Transplant (2020). Extra safety measures after coronavirus uncertainty causes drop   in donations. [online] Available at: https://www.blood.co.uk/news-and-campaigns/news-and-statements/extra-safety-measures-after-coronavirus-uncertainty-causes-drop-in-donations/ Last accessed, April 2020.

[4] Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety, European Commission (2017). Building national programmes of Patient Blood Management (PBM) in the EU: A Guide for Health Authorities. [online] Available at: https://op.europa.eu/en/publication-detail/-/publication/5ec54745-1a8c-11e7-808e-01aa75ed71a1/language-en Last accessed, April 2020.