Medical practice guidelines have been promoted as a way to improve the cost-effectiveness of medical care. Algorithms for the transfusion of red blood cells, plasma, and platelets may be especially useful in the surgical setting if they incorporate point-of-care information that is both physiologic and patient-specific for transfusion decision making. Therefore, the goals of guidelines for surgical blood management should be twofold. They should (1) acknowledge patient-specific variability while addressing physician- and institution-dependent variables; and (2) improve blood component management by developing more physiologic clinical indicators of the need for allogeneic red blood cell transfusion.
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