Expert: The National Blood Shortage Is Forcing Hospitals to Make Difficult Decisions Regarding Which Patients Get Blood

Jennifer Andrews, MD, pediatric hematologist-oncologist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and medical director of Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s blood bank, discusses what the national blood shortage may mean for health systems.

Pharmacy Times interviewed Jennifer Andrews, MD, a pediatric hematologist-oncologist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and the medical director of the blood bank, on the national blood shortage in the United States. As the national inventory was beginning to recover toward the end of this summer, COVID-19 cases began to significantly increase as a result of the Delta variant, directly impacting donor turnout.

During the discussion, Andrews addressed what this blood shortage may mean for health systems.

Jennifer Andrews: It really means that at a hospital like Vanderbilt University Medical Center, which serves over a thousand patients every day and has the only level 1 trauma center in Nashville, a big city. It means that we have to be thoughtful about which patients get blood that day.

We've also had to, just like at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, delay certain surgeries that our surgeons knew those patients had a high risk of bleeding, and I, myself, as a hematologist, have had to delay needed transfusions for some of my patients, for example, with anemias where there's no alternate therapy for that blood transfusion.