More adult trauma patients survived when they received early transfusions of plasma or red blood cells while en route to the hospital by helicopter or ground transport, in a study presented at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2013.
Trauma is the leading cause of death in people 1 to 44 years old and the leading cause of years of life lost, researchers said.
In a retrospective study, 97 patients received pre-hospital transfusions and 480 patients who didn't receive pre-hospital transfusions were controls.
Pre-hospital transfusions resulted in an 8 percent reduced risk of death within six hours after hospital admission and 40 percent improved coagulation status upon hospital admission. There was also a 13 percent improvement in survival to hospital discharge, although this was not statistically significant, researchers said.
Patients arrived by either ground or two different helicopter systems, one of which had thawed plasma and the other air and ground transport systems used only crystalloid resuscitation (normal saline solution is the most common crystalloid fluid used).
"Earlier, effective intervention seems to have the best effect on outcomes, such as pre-hospital transfusions on trauma patients that can save lives," said John Holcomb, M.D., the study's lead researcher.
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Blood transfusions en route to hospital may reduce trauma patients' risk of death