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CA-stewardshipStewardship: Waste Not, Want Not

A publication in the upcoming Transfusion journal reports on a successful and practical initiative to reduce blood component wastage via a targeted team approach surrounding blood transport and storage. 1

The national wastage rate for blood products within the United States may be as high as 6% with up to 70% of wastage occurring within our operating suites.2 Most of this is due to improper transport and storage. The team from Mayo incorporated methods such as DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control), LEAN and PDSA (Plan, Do, Study, Act) to help develop a process with the goal of significantly reducing their facility’s wastage within the surgical arena.

The interventions included purchase of special highly reliable storage devices, blood product request and reconciliation tools, and extensive team education. Wastage of red cell units and plasma were compared before and after the implementation. There was concurrent cost accounting to validate savings and return on investment for equipment.

This multidisciplinary, multifaceted approach managed to achieve its goal of reducing blood component wastage within the institution. RBC wastage decreased from 1.3% to 0.07% and plasma decreased from 0.4% to 0%. This success should be sustainable as the changes are now embedded within the fabric of the blood handling process!

At Mediware, we have long recognized that stewardship of our blood supply, whether from the donor center perspective or within our own facilities, is a key ingredient for global blood management. Decreasing unnecessary transfusion exposure is of utmost importance, however decreasing wastage of this potentially life-saving resource should also become paramount. This is our professional and civic duty. Studies such as this one clearly emphasize that multidisciplinary, focused teams can achieve meaningful improvements in the stewardship of our limited resources.


  1. Brown J et al. Transfusion 2013; DOI: 10.1111/trf.12315
  2. Heitmiller E et al. Transfusion 2010; 50: 1887-1896
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