A leading cause of death after a serious injury is the loss of blood. Victims receiving transfusions of blood 22 days old or older may have increased risk of death within 24 hours, reveals a new finding.
"Our analysis shows that transfusions of packed red blood cell units stored for 22 days or longer are potentially toxic," said Allison R. Jones, PhD, RN,CCNS, Assistant Professor, Department of Acute, Chronic and Continuing Care, School of Nursing, University of Alabama at Birmingham and lead study author. "To avoid adverse events or death, patients who require massive transfusions may benefit from receiving fresh stored packed red blood cells, or those stored for 14 days or less."
Packed red blood cells aged 22 days or more were associated with a 5 percent increase in mortality risk, according to the study, "Older Blood Is Associated With Increased Mortality and Adverse Events in Massively Transfused Trauma Patients." The secondary analysis of data from the Pragmatic, Randomized Optimal Plasma and Platelet Ration (PROPPR) trial looked at 678 patients in 12 Level I trauma centers across North America.
"This study highlights a public health challenge that needs more attention -- the nation's health care providers are in the middle of a blood and plasma shortage. We all need to do a better job of encouraging qualified individuals to donate blood and blood products in order to avoid delays in lifesaving care and to replenish our blood supply," said Dr. Jones.
The retrospective analysis looked at patients who received a mix of old and fresh blood. Future studies are needed to compare patient outcomes among those who receive only fresh blood versus those who receive only old blood, the authors note.