A Vanderbilt University Medical Center study has found that giving fresh, frozen plasma to critically injured patients in hemorrhagic shock during medical helicopter transport decreased their need for blood transfusions and improved survival. VUMC enrolled 97 patients in this four-year study; 42 received plasma, and 55 received standard care. After 30 days, 69 percent of those 42 patients who received plasma survived, compared to 63 percent of patients who received standard care, which includes giving red blood cell transfusions.
From July 2014 through September 2017, two LifeFlight helicopters, based in Clarksville and Murfreesboro, administered plasma or standard care, for one-month intervals. During the plasma interval, as soon as the patient was deemed eligible for trial, the medical teams began administering two units of plasma to the patient. Once the units were completed, the medical team reverted to standard care. “The most important part was plasma lowered the amount of blood transfusions that a patient actually got throughout their hospital stay,” said co-author, Richard Miller, MD, chief of the Division of Trauma and Surgical Critical Care. “It improved their clotting, which makes sense if you give fresh frozen plasma instead of crystalloids (saline), and it improved survival.”