Public/Global Health

Doctors, nurses, hospitals warn blood shortage could jeopardize ability to meet patients’ needs

Health care workers warned on Thursday that a blood shortage could jeopardize their ability to adequately care for patients. 

In an statement issued by the American Hospital Association, the American Nurses Association and the American Medical Association, workers said that the current “severity and duration” of the blood supply shortage could “significantly jeopardize” the ability of health care providers to meet the many urgent needs around the country.

The U.S. currently faces its worst blood shortage in over a decade.

Earlier this month, the American Red Cross said it had “less than a one-day supply of critical blood types” and has had to limit distributions to hospitals. It warned of the severe consequences for patients — including doctors being forced to make “difficult decisions” about which people receive blood transfusions.

The statement issued by the groups Thursday said it was important to have “a steady and robust supply of blood and blood products to save the lives of our patients.” However, the COVID-19 pandemic has thrown a wrench into donations because organizations like businesses, houses of worship and universities — places that have bolstered its blood supply for many years — have faced challenges.

“Over the past year, as we have caught up on delayed surgeries, treated many trauma patients, and cared for others who need transfusions, the need for blood has increased while staffing shortages and high rates of COVID-19 in communities have diminished donations,” the statement added. 

It further reiterated the Red Cross’s message and urged everyone who can to give blood.”However, we urge potential donors not to be discouraged if they are unable to get an appointment immediately, as this does not mean their donation is not needed,” the statement said.

The COVID-19 pandemic has seen a 10 percent overall decline in the number of people donating blood, in addition to ongoing blood drive cancellations and staffing limitations, according to the Red Cross

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