Oregon health system warns providers to use platelets sparingly amid shortage

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Portland-based Oregon Health & Science University, facing a shortage of blood platelets from the American Red Cross, warned providers on an internal server to use blood platelets sparingly, according to The Lund Report

The internal warning sent last week prompted providers to go into emergency drills to stretch and ration supplies until officials were able to secure platelets from another supplier. 

The platelet shortage is not new. Providers at OHSU have been splitting units of platelet cells to serve more patients and supplementing infusions with drugs that promote clotting, Richard Scanlan, medical director of OHSU transfusion services, told the publication.

He said that all patients who've needed platelets have now received them, despite the scramble last week.

Platelets, which help blood clot, are critical to trauma and cancer patients, but they only have a five-day shelf life.

Karen Ellis, manager of platelet and plasma collection for the Portland area Red Cross said a shortage of donors prompted the shortage of platelets.

"That’s the bottom line," Ms. Ellis said. "We need to get the word out for more donors to donate."

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