RWJ Doc Medical Breakthrough

In a study published as the lead article* in the New England Journal of Medicine, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital and Medical School physician Jeffrey L. Carson, MD, has transformed international surgical care.  Dr. Carson, who is a Professor of Medicine, is the Principal Investigator of the FOCUS Trial. This landmark study finds that patients who receive few blood transfusions, after surgery, do at least as well as those receiving more blood.

2,016 elderly patients in 13 hospitals around the United States and Canada, under went hip surgery.  All the patients chosen for the study had a history of or risk factors for heart disease.  After selection for the study, they were randomly divided into two groups. One group was transfused with an average of two units of blood and the other group had none. The study concluded that the amount of blood transfused did not change the risk of heart attack, stroke, death nor how fast patients recovered walking with their new hips.

This study, in elderly cardiac patients, shows that unless someone is very anemic, nothing is gained by transfusions with hip surgery.  This is an exciting finding because it will reduce complications from blood transfusions. Because of the FOCUS trial more blood will be available for critically ill patients, who desperately need this precious commodity.  For patients who may be anxious about receiving blood, this study gives reassurance.  Perhaps more patients will be able to undergo needed surgeries.

Dr. Carson is a dedicated teacher and compassionate doctor, with a wry sense of humor.  He has spent much of his career involved in research trying to reduce the use of unnecessary transfusions.  For this sentinel article to lead in the most prestigious medical Journal in the world, speaks volumes about Dr. Carson and his commitment to quality medical care.  It also reminds us that right here, in Central New Jersey, we have a world-class Medical School and Medical Center.

*Liberal or Restrictive Transfusion in High-Risk Patients after Hip Surgery

NEJM 365; 26 December 29, 2011


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