Background: Exsanguinating hemorrhage necessitating massive blood product transfusion is associated with high mortality rates. Recent data suggest that altering the fresh frozen plasma to packed red blood cell ratio (FFP:PRBC) results in significant mortality reductions. Our purpose was to evaluate mortality and blood product use in the context of a newly initiated massive transfusion protocol (MTP).
Study design: In July 2005, our American College of Surgeons-verified Level I trauma center implemented an MTP supporting a 1:1.5 FFP:PRBC ratio, improved communications, and enhanced systems flow to optimize rapid blood product availability. During the 4 years surrounding protocol implementation, we reviewed data on trauma patients directly admitted through the emergency department and requiring 10 or more units PRBCs during the first 24 hours.
Results: For the 2 years before and subsequent to MTP initiation, there were 4,223 and 4,414 trauma activations, of which 40 and 37 patients, respectively, met study criteria. The FFP:PRBC ratios were identical, at 1:1.8 and 1:1.8 (p = 0.97). Despite no change in FFP:PRBC ratio, mortality decreased from 45% to 19% (p = 0.02). Other significant findings included decreased mean time to first product: cross-matched RBCs (115 to 71 minutes; p = 0.02), FFP (254 to 169 minutes; p = 0.04), and platelets (418 to 241 minutes; p = 0.01).
Conclusions: MTP implementation is associated with mortality reductions that have been ascribed principally to increased plasma use and decreased FFP:PRBC ratios. Our study found a significant reduction in mortality despite unchanged FFP:PRBC ratios and equivalent overall mean numbers of transfusions. Our data underscore the importance of expeditious product availability and emphasize that massive transfusion is a complex process in which product ratio and time to transfusion represent only the beginning of understanding.