Dr. Stephen Evans, CMO of MedStar Health, on the future of Bloodless Medicine and Surgery
The mission of the MedStar International Training Center for Bloodless Medicine (the MITC) is to improve quality of care and patient safety for Jehovah’s Witnesses worldwide by providing free online and onsite training in the tools and techniques of bloodless medicine and surgery. Why would a leading healthcare system undertake such an initiative on behalf of a relatively small group of patients?
Dr. Stephen R.T. Evans, Medstar’s Chief Medical Officer, explains: “First, I believe strongly that a healthcare system should be, and ultimately will be, measured on how it serves not just some communities, but all communities that we are privileged to care for. Second, we now have a clear understanding of the evidence that supports outcomes that are significantly better when you do not use blood transfusions in managing patients. In serving the Jehovah’s Witness community, we gain expertise in strategies that improve the standard of care and enhance shared decision-making processes for all patients.”
Other patients who can benefit from the lessons learned in treating Jehovah’s Witnesses include:
- Patients for whom transfusion is medically contraindicated
- Patients for whom no blood is available
- Patients who wish to avoid the risks of blood transfusion
The MITC is housed within the MedStar Institute for Quality and Safety which places the highest priority on engaging patients in shared decisions around treatment choices, as well as maintaining an ongoing, open and honest, two-way conversation throughout the care being delivered.
Bloodless medicine is quality health care without the use of blood transfusion. It is an evidenced-based, collaborative, multi-disciplinary approach developed to treat Jehovah’s Witnesses, whose rights, as well as their needs, values, preferences and goals for treatment, have historically often been denied because they refuse blood transfusion. The techniques of bloodless medicine and surgery have been used in the general patient population to improve outcomes, shorten length of stay, and reduce hospital costs. By offering free training and helping hospitals to establish programs for bloodless medicine and surgery, we are addressing an urgent need.
There are over eight million Jehovah’s Witnesses worldwide and their number is growing. They understand the Biblical injunction to “abstain from blood” (Acts 15:28, 29) to be a divine command, and therefore refuse blood transfusion. In addition, as discussed on our home page, there are millions if not billions of patients worldwide for whom blood transfusion is simply not available or poses unacceptable risks.
The scarcity of training materials and opportunities may limit the ability of physicians to provide quality care without the use of blood transfusion. Many health care providers are unaware that the tools and techniques of bloodless medicine and surgery exist, and are therefore at a loss when presented with a patient for whom blood transfusion is not an option.
According to the American Hospital Association, as of September 2017 there were 5,564 registered hospitals in the US. Around 100 of these now offer some level of bloodless care. Globally bloodless medicine and surgery programs are even scarcer. Thus there is an urgent need to provide training and raise awareness of bloodless medicine and surgery—in the US and around the world.
- Free online case-based learning modules (CE credit available)
- Free consulting services for administrators and physician leaders wishing to establish a bloodless medicine and surgery program
- Workshops for Champions — Free training sessions at MedStar SiTEL (Simulation Training and Education Lab)
- A platform for sharing case reports from medical professionals around the world
Welcome to the International Training Center for Bloodless Medicine & Surgery! Please tune in as Michael Hofmann, Administrative Director, for the MITC talks about the International collaborations and training in this growing and innovative field.
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