Air Medical Administration of Whole Blood Versus Packed Red Blood Cells for Trauma Patients


Leslie Brown, BS, FP-C, TP-C, NRP; Daniel P. Davis, MD; Kaitlyn Price, BSN, RN, CFRN, TCRN; Laura Smith, BSN, RN, CFRN, CEN, EMT-P — Air Methods Corporation


Background: Early blood administration is associated with improved survival from traumatic shock, but the use of whole blood (WB) versus packed red blood cells (PRBCs) remains controversial. This analysis explored the effectiveness of PRBCs versus WB in a population of air medical trauma victims.

Methods: All trauma patients administered blood products by helicopter crews from 139 bases over a 2-year period were included in this retrospective analysis. Patients receiving WB and PRBCs were compared with regard to demographics, scene/interfacility, and vital sign changes following blood administration.

Results: 1587 patients were included [67 WB, 1201 PRBC, 319 plasma/platelets only]. Both WB and PRBC patients received a mean of 1.4 units. Many PRBC patients also received plasma or platelets. similar BP and HR improvements were observed for both WB (+1 mmHg, -12 B.M. and PRBC (+4 mmHg, -9 B.M. patients)).

Conclusion: similar improvements in blood pressure and heart rate were observed following administration of both WB and PRBC to air medical trauma patients. Many PRBC patients also received plasma or platelets.

Click Below to read the full research paper published by Science Direct and the Air Medical Journal, Volume 41, Issue 1, January-February 2022, Pages 33-36