In-flight blood transfusions boost survival rates

12 February 2015

A new study has found that giving air-lifted trauma victims blood transfusions can boost survival rates, compared to those who did not receive this intervention.

The research, published in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons, looked at the air medical evacuation strategy at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), which has 18 helicopter bases across three nearby states.

Study author Dr Joshua Brown said the people who received blood transfusions while they were on the helicopter were more likely to survive on the first day after being injured. In addition, these patients were also less likely to suffer from shock when they showed up at the hospital and didn't need as many blood transfusions at the hospital, he added.

This is the first study to evaluate the impact of giving transfused blood in trauma victims, compared to similar people who did not receive it until they got to hospital.

As haemorrhage is the leading cause of death in trauma victims, early transfusions of red blood cells can reduce the risk of death, and this is being increasingly used in trauma victims. 

Posted by Philip Briggs

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