Pre-hospital transfusion of red blood cells in civilian trauma patients

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The current management of severely injured patients includes damage control resuscitation strategies that minimise the use of crystalloids and emphasise earlier transfusion of red blood cells (RBC) to prevent coagulopathy. In 2012, London's air ambulance (LAA) became the first UK civilian pre-hospital service to routinely carry RBC to the trauma scene.


To investigate the effect of pre-hospital RBC transfusion (phRTx) on overall blood product consumption.


A retrospective trauma database study compares before implementation with after implementation of phRTx in exsanguinating trauma patients transported directly to one major trauma centre. Pre-hospital deaths were excluded. Univariate and multivariate Poisson regression analyses on data subject to multiple imputation were conducted.


We included 137 and 128 patients in the before and after the implementation of phRTx groups, respectively. LAA transfused 304 RBC units (median 2, inter quartile range 1–3). We found a significant reduction in total RBC usage and reduced early use of platelets and fresh-frozen plasma (FFP) after the implementation of phRTx in both univariate (P < 0·001) and multivariate analyses (P < 0·001). No immediate adverse transfusion reactions were identified.


Pre-hospital trauma transfusion practice is feasible and associated with overall reduced RBC, platelets and FFP consumption.

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