Blood transfusions can be a life saving measure. Most of the time a transfusion is not a "whole blood" transfusion, but rather certain blood products, with red blood cells being the most common.
A study published by JAMA shows that among medically evacuated U.S. military combat causalities in Afghanistan, blood product transfusion within minutes of injury or prior to hospitalization was associated with greater 24-hour and 30-day survival than delayed or no transfusion.
Hemorrhage is a leading cause of preventable death in both military and civilian trauma care. Even though it is intuitive that early transfusion for hemorrhagic shock should improve survival, published data on prehospital transfusion to date has not demonstrated a survival advantage.
For the 386 patients without missing data among the 400 patients within the matched groups, prehospital transfusion was associated with a 74 percent lower risk of death over 24 hours, and a 61 percent lower risk of death over 30 days. Time to initial transfusion, regardless of location (prehospital or during hospitalization), was associated with reduced 24-hour mortality only up to 15 minutes after MEDEVAC rescue (median, 36 minutes after injury).
"The findings support prehospital transfusion in this setting," the authors write.