What Is Bloodless Medicine and Surgery? | MedStar Health

What Is Bloodless Medicine and Surgery?

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This video introduces patients to the concept of Bloodless Medicine and Surgery, clarifies some reasons people choose not to have blood transfusions, and provides an overview of the basic pillars of Bloodless Medicine and Surgery.

When patients are well informed, they are better able to participate in shared decision-making, which has been shown to boost patient outcomes and lead to higher patient and provider satisfaction.

The resources here are intended to help healthcare teams educate Bloodless Medicine and Surgery patients about their options for transfusion-free care. They use plain language to help patients understand what bloodless medicine and surgery is, as well as how it relates to their healthcare. The combination of print and digital media is designed to give patients of all literacy levels the information they need to make informed treatment decisions.


Bloodless Medicine and Surgery refers to medical care that does not use blood transfusions.

A blood transfusion means giving donated blood or blood components to a patient through a narrow tube inserted into a vein in the arm.

They’re generally used to replace blood that’s lost due to injury, illness or surgery.

But many patients refuse transfusions. Jehovah’s Witnesses refuse them for religious reasons. Others can’t have them for medical reasons. And in some parts of the world, people don’t have access to them at all.

To accommodate all of these patients, Bloodless Medicine and Surgery clinicians use many different techniques and three overall strategies to make transfusions unnecessary.

The first strategy is to make sure the patient loses as little blood as possible throughout their care.

The second strategy is to help the patient’s body make the best use of the oxygen in the bloodstream. Oxygen is extremely important to how our vital organs work and heal.

The third strategy is to screen patients for anemia–when a patient doesn’t have enough red blood cells–and treat it before going any further.

Bloodless Medicine and Surgery is a safe and effective approach to medical care. And it turns out there are benefits to avoiding transfusions.

Patients recover faster, have shorter hospital stays and experience fewer infections than patients who have transfusions.

Research also shows that bloodless surgery patients have fewer heart attacks and strokes after surgery.

All in all, bloodless patients do just as well — and in many cases, better — than patients who receive transfusions.

If you’re considering a bloodless approach, it’s very important to find experienced practitioners and discuss your treatment plan with them in detail.

You may want to ask them how long they’ve been doing Bloodless Medicine and Surgery, how many patients they’ve treated, and what specific strategies they use. If you’re not satisfied or comfortable with their answers, be ready to seek help elsewhere.

Your care team should be able to answer all of your questions, help you every step of the way, and — just as important — treat your wishes with the utmost respect.