Study: Stored Blood can be Hazardous to Patient Safety

Study: Stored Blood can be Hazardous to Patient SafetyA recent study conducted by researchers at Wake Forest University found that better measures need to be taken when storing blood, as dangerous breakdowns of red blood vessels may pose a threat to patients receiving blood transfusions, HealthDay reports.

The research found that some medical problems caused by blood transfusions can be linked to the breakdown of red blood cells, and that for the procedure to remain safe, better methods need to be used in blood storage.

Blood that has been transfused from one patient to another can lead to major complications, such as infections, failure of the kidneys and lungs and even death, according to co-author of the study Dr. Mark T. Gladwin.

The study looked at the relationship between nitric oxide (NO) and the byproducts of the breakdown of red blood cells. The researchers discovered that when older blood is introduced into the system, it can reduce blood flow and possibly cause tissue damage.

"When blood sits for a while, some of the cells break down and release their contents, which include molecules of hemoglobin and red blood cell microparticles," Dr. Gladwin said. "These accumulate in the stored bag of blood and are transfused into the patient with the blood."

In the blood stream of a receiver, Dr. Gladwin added, the micro particles destroy nitric oxide, creating a lack of oxygen within the cells, causing damage to them.

Further studies will be performed in order to determine the risk of blood stored longer than 14 days, although currently, federal guidelines state blood can be stored up to 42 days.

According to the National Library of Medicine, Nearly 5 million people receive blood donations every year, making the need for better storage systems to be used to ensure the safety of individuals receiving a transfusion.