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Medical Care

Saving More Trauma Patients

A nationwide study, published in JAMA, may help save hundreds of lives among trauma patients by giving them the best transfusion techniques possible.

The study found that one approach, as opposed to the other one tested, gives patients a significantly better chance of survival within the first 24 hours.

“This study is an important milestone in trauma care,” said Thomas M. Scalea, M.D., who is the Francis X. Kelly Distinguished Professor of Trauma Surgery as well as Physician-in-Chief of the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center at the University of Maryland Medical Center. Scalea oversaw the school’s participation in the study, and was part of the committee that designed and oversaw the study.

The study compared two transfusion techniques: One gave patients equal ratios of plasma, platelets, and red blood cells; the other gave patients a ratio that had equal numbers of plasma and platelets, but twice as many red blood cells. The study found that subjects in the equal-ratio group were more likely to stop bleeding, and had a better chance of surviving, in the first 24 hours, compared to patients in the other group. The two groups had the same overall level of survival at 30 days, according to a news release from the University of Maryland.

Some researchers have expressed concern that the equal-measure blood would cause increased inflammation, and might lead to problems such as organ failure, infection and blood clots. However, the university news release said, the study found no evidence that equal-ratio patients had any more inflammation-related problems.

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