The study protocol for the Head Injury Retrieval Trial (HIRT): a single centre randomised controlled trial of physician prehospital management of severe blunt head injury compared with management by paramedics

Scand J Trauma Resusc Emerg Med. 2013 Sep 14;21:69. doi: 10.1186/1757-7241-21-69.


Background: The utility of advanced prehospital interventions for severe blunt traumatic brain injury (BTI) remains controversial. Of all trauma patient subgroups it has been anticipated that this patient group would most benefit from advanced prehospital interventions as hypoxia and hypotension have been demonstrated to be associated with poor outcomes and these factors may be amenable to prehospital intervention. Supporting evidence is largely lacking however. In particular the efficacy of early anaesthesia/muscle relaxant assisted intubation has proved difficult to substantiate.

Methods: This article describes the design and protocol of the Head Injury Retrieval Trial (HIRT) which is a randomised controlled single centre trial of physician prehospital care (delivering advanced interventions such as rapid sequence intubation and blood transfusion) in addition to paramedic care for severe blunt TBI compared with paramedic care alone.

Results: Primary endpoint is Glasgow Outcome Scale score at six months post injury. Issues with trial integrity resulting from drop ins from standard care to the treatment arm as the result of policy changes by the local ambulance system are discussed.

Conclusion: This randomised controlled trial will contribute to the evaluation of the efficacy of advance prehospital interventions in severe blunt TBI.

Trial registration: NCT00112398.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Allied Health Personnel*
  • Clinical Protocols
  • Emergency Medical Services*
  • Glasgow Outcome Scale
  • Head Injuries, Closed / physiopathology
  • Head Injuries, Closed / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Injury Severity Score
  • Medical Staff, Hospital*
  • New South Wales
  • Patient Care Team
  • Quality of Health Care*
  • Research Design*

Associated data