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J Trauma Acute Care Surg. 2019 Nov;87(5):1077-1081. doi: 10.1097/TA.0000000000002406.

Implementation of a prehospital air medical thawed plasma program: Is it even feasible?

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From the Division of Trauma and General Surgery, Department of Surgery (P.W.A., K.A.W., J.B.B., A.T.P., B.S.Z., M.D.N., J.L.S.), and Department of Emergency Medicine (F.X.G.), University of Pittsburgh Medical Center; Vitalant, and Department of Pathology (M.H.Y.), University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Department of Surgery (B.J.D.), University of Tennessee Health Science Center, Knoxville; Department of Surgery (R.S.M.), Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, Tennessee; Department of Surgery (B.G.H.), University of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky; MetroHealth Medical Center (J.A.C.), Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio; Department of Surgery (H.A.P.), University of Texas Southwestern, Parkland Hospital, Dallas; and Health Harris Methodist Hospital (W.R.W.), Fort Worth, Texas.



The Prehospital Air Medical Plasma (PAMPer) trial demonstrated a 30-day survival benefit among hypotensive trauma patients treated with prehospital plasma during air medical transport. We characterized resources, costs and feasibility of air medical prehospital plasma program implementation.


We performed a secondary analysis using data derived from the recent PAMPer trial. Intervention patients received thawed plasma (5-day shelf life). Unused plasma units were recycled back to blood bank affiliates, when possible. Distribution method and capability of recycling varied across sites. We determined the status of plasma units deployed, utilized, wasted, and returned. We inventoried thawed plasma use and annualized costs for distribution and recovery.


The PAMPer trial screened 7,275 patients and 5,103 plasma units were deployed across 22 air medical bases during a 42-month period. Only 368 (7.2%) units of this total thawed plasma pool were provided to plasma randomized PAMPer patients. Of the total plasma pool, 3,716 (72.8%) units of plasma were returned to the blood bank with the potential for transfusion prior to expiration and 1,019 (20.0%) thawed plasma units were deemed wasted for this analysis. The estimated average annual cost of implementation of a thawed plasma program per air medical base at an average courier distance would be between US $24,343 and US $30,077, depending on the ability to recycle plasma and distance of courier delivery required.


A prehospital plasma program utilizing thawed plasma is resource intensive. Plasma waste can be minimized depending on trauma center and blood bank specific logistics. Implementation of a thawed plasma program can occur with financial cost. Products with a longer shelf life, such as liquid plasma or freeze-dried plasma, may provide a more cost-effective prehospital product relative to thawed plasma.


Therapeutic, level III.

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