There is the potential for significant controversy in this month’s episode – and we would really appreciate the feedback of the prehospital community on this one.
We have held the ‘no clear fluids’ mantra close to our hearts for most of our prehospital careers. We ‘know’ that giving sea water to our patients, and diluting all of blood’s ‘good bits’ can’t be healthy. We believed in permissive hypotension – we were probably wrong.
Priorities for the bleeding trauma patient must include:
- Minimum time to control of bleeding (tourniquets / haemostatics / knife / interventional radiology)
- Appropriate choice of destination (knife / IR)
- ? Early correction of hypotension (especially if blunt trauma / associated head injury)
The balances of harms in the context of blunt trauma between the negative effects of infusing saline versus the negative effects of hypotension are unknown and prehospital actions need to be customised to an individual patient and situation.
In systems in which a potentially less harmful resuscitation strategy can be delivered sooner – PH systems with packed red cells / fresh frozen plasma / whole blood or freeze dried plasma, then it seems pragmatic to aim for normotension (predicted normal blood pressure) sooner in the patient’s care timeline than we have been e.g. at one hour. In patients with penetrating trauma permissive hypotension may remain useful for longer or at least until a patient can be differentiated and the bleeding controlled.
Lots to think about!
- Smith IM, James RH, Dretzke J, Midwinter MJ. Prehospital Blood Product Resuscitation for Trauma. Shock. 2016 Jul;46(1):3–16.
- Shorter times to packed red blood cell transfusion are associated with decreased risk of death in traumatically injured patients. Powell EK, Hinckley WR, Gottula A, Hart KW, Lindsell CJ, McMullan JT. J Trauma Acute Care Surg. 2016 Sep;81(3):458-62.
- Penn-Barwell JG, Roberts SA, Midwinter MJ, Bishop JR: Improved survival in UK combat casualties from Iraq and Afghanistan: 2003-2012. J Trauma Acute Care Surg 78(5):1014–1020, 2015.
- Holcomb JB, Donathan DP, Cotton BA, Del Junco DJ, Brown G, Wenckstern TV, Podbielski JM, Camp EA, Hobbs R, Bai Y, et al.: Prehospital transfusion of plasma and red blood cells in trauma patients. Prehosp Emerg Care 19(1):1–9, 2015.
- Weaver AE, Eshelby S, Norton J, Lockey DJ: The introduction of on-scene blood transfusion in a civilian physician-led pre-hospital trauma service. Scand J Trauma Resusc Emerg Med 21(Suppl1):S27, 2013.
- Bodnar D, Rashford S, Williams S, Enraght-Moony E, Parker L, Clarke B: The feasibility of civilian prehospital trauma teams carrying and administering packed red blood cells. Emerg Med J 31(2):93–95, 2014.