Plasma-first resuscitation to treat haemorrhagic shock during emergency ground transportation in an urban area: a randomised trial

Lancet. 2018 Jul 28;392(10144):283-291. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(18)31553-8. Epub 2018 Jul 20.


Background: Plasma is integral to haemostatic resuscitation after injury, but the timing of administration remains controversial. Anticipating approval of lyophilised plasma by the US Food and Drug Administration, the US Department of Defense funded trials of prehospital plasma resuscitation. We investigated use of prehospital plasma during rapid ground rescue of patients with haemorrhagic shock before arrival at an urban level 1 trauma centre.

Methods: The Control of Major Bleeding After Trauma Trial was a pragmatic, randomised, single-centre trial done at the Denver Health Medical Center (DHMC), which houses the paramedic division for Denver city. Consecutive trauma patients in haemorrhagic shock (defined as systolic blood pressure [SBP] ≤70 mm Hg or 71-90 mm Hg plus heart rate ≥108 beats per min) were assessed for eligibility at the scene of the injury by trained paramedics. Eligible patients were randomly assigned to receive plasma or normal saline (control). Randomisation was achieved by preloading all ambulances with sealed coolers at the start of each shift. Coolers were randomly assigned to groups 1:1 in blocks of 20 according to a schedule generated by the research coordinators. If the coolers contained two units of frozen plasma, they were defrosted in the ambulance and the infusion started. If the coolers contained a dummy load of frozen water, this indicated allocation to the control group and saline was infused. The primary endpoint was mortality within 28 days of injury. Analyses were done in the as-treated population and by intention to treat. This trial is registered with, number NCT01838863.

Findings: From April 1, 2014, to March 31, 2017, paramedics randomly assigned 144 patients to study groups. The as-treated analysis included 125 eligible patients, 65 received plasma and 60 received saline. Median age was 33 years (IQR 25-47) and median New Injury Severity Score was 27 (10-38). 70 (56%) patients required blood transfusions within 6 h of injury. The groups were similar at baseline and had similar transport times (plasma group median 19 min [IQR 16-23] vs control 16 min [14-22]). The groups did not differ in mortality at 28 days (15% in the plasma group vs 10% in the control group, p=0·37). In the intention-to-treat analysis, we saw no significant differences between the groups in safety outcomes and adverse events. Due to the consistent lack of differences in the analyses, the study was stopped for futility after 144 of 150 planned enrolments.

Interpretation: During rapid ground rescue to an urban level 1 trauma centre, use of prehospital plasma was not associated with survival benefit. Blood products might be beneficial in settings with longer transport times, but the financial burden would not be justified in an urban environment with short distances to mature trauma centres.

Funding: US Department of Defense.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Pragmatic Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Ambulances*
  • Colorado
  • Emergency Medical Services / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Plasma*
  • Resuscitation / methods*
  • Shock, Hemorrhagic / mortality
  • Shock, Hemorrhagic / therapy*
  • Sodium Chloride
  • Survival Rate
  • Trauma Centers*


  • Sodium Chloride

Associated data