Blood transfusions come with risks and high costs, and should be utilized only when clinically indicated. Decisions to transfuse are however not always well informed, and lack of clinician knowledge and education on good clinical transfusion practices contribute to the inappropriate use of blood. Low and middle-income countries in particular take much strain in their efforts to address blood safety challenges, demand-supply imbalances, high blood costs as well as high disease burdens, all of which impact blood usage and blood collections. Patient blood management (PBM), which is a patient-focused approach aimed at improving patient outcomes by preemptively diagnosing and correcting anaemia and limiting blood loss by cell salvage, coagulation optimization and other measures, has become a major approach to addressing many of the challenges mentioned. The associated decrease in the use of blood and blood products may be perceived as being in competition with blood conservation measures, which is the more traditional, but primarily product-focused approach. In this article, we hope to convey the message that PBM and blood conservation should not be seen as competing concepts, but rather complimentary strategies with the common goal of improving patient care. This offers opportunity to improve the culture of transfusion practices with relief to blood establishments and clinical services, not only in South Africa and LMICs, but everywhere. With the COVID-19 pandemic impacting blood supplies worldwide, this is an ideal time to call for educational interventions and awareness as an active strategy to improve transfusion practices, immediately and beyond.
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