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J Trauma Acute Care Surg. 2016 Sep;81(3):458-62. doi: 10.1097/TA.0000000000001078.

Shorter times to packed red blood cell transfusion are associated with decreased risk of death in traumatically injured patients.

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From the Department of Emergency Medicine (E.K.P., W.R.H., K.W.H., C.J.L., J.T.M.), University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio; College of Medicine (A.G.), University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio.



Hemorrhage is a leading cause of death in traumatically injured patients. Currently, the importance of earlier administration of packed red blood cells (pRBC) to improve outcomes is limited. We evaluated the association of earlier pRBC administration and mortality when compared with later transfusion initiation.


This single-center retrospective cohort study of trauma patients transported by a single helicopter service from the scene of injury to an urban academic trauma center included patients receiving at least one unit of pRBC within 24 hours of hospital arrival. The final cohort included patients transported to the trauma center between March 11, 2010, and October 30, 2013. The helicopter service carries two units of pRBC for protocol-driven prehospital transfusion. Logistic regression was used to model odds of death, and 95% confidence intervals were calculated.


The 94 patients meeting inclusion criteria had a mean (SD) age of 43 (19) years; 87 (93%) of 94 were white, 66 (70%) of 94 were male, and 88(94%) of 94 sustained blunt force injuries. Median Injury Severity Score was 29 (range, 2-75), and 31 (33%) of 94 died within 30 days. Most patients [82/94 (87%)] received their first pRBC transfusion during transport or within one hour of arrival at the emergency department (ED). For the 82 patients receiving a first pRBC transfusion within one hour of ED arrival, each 10-minute increase in time to transfusion increased the odds of death [OR, 1.27 (95% CI, 1.01-1.62; p = 0.044)], controlling for TRISS. At 30 days, 29/82 (35%) patients who received a pRBC transfusion within one hour of ED arrival, and 2 (16%) of 12 patients who received delayed transfusion were deceased (difference, 19%; 95% CI, -5% to 42%).


In this study, delays in time to pRBC administration of as short as 10 minutes were associated with increased odds of death for patients receiving ultra-early pRBC transfusion. Expedient prehospital and ED transfusion capabilities may improve outcomes after trauma.


Therapeutic/care management study, level III.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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