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14 December 2016

A major British study is to test the benefits of giving blood products to seriously injured patients before they are taken to hospital, it has been announced.

During the study helicopters and ambulances will be randomly stocked with blood products or only with standard clear fluids.

The project is being run by Warwick University and Birmingham University working with the National Institute for Health Research surgical reconstruction and microbiology research centre.

Researchers say that it is not currently known "where and when" is the best location to administer blood products after major trauma.

The project, known as the RePHILL study, involves NHS Blood and Transplant and air ambulance services in the Midlands and East Anglia.

Professor Karim Brohi, professor of trauma sciences at Barts and the London School of Medicine, said: "Bleeding after severe injury kills millions of people around the world each year, often within minutes to hours of injury.

"Life-saving interventions tend to be more effective when given early, and giving blood and plasma within minutes of injury is one possible way to improve outcomes in the most critically injured patients.

"However moving blood products out of hospitals and onto ambulance services is challenging and potentially costly.

"The RePHILL trial is important for the NHS and for global trauma care as it should help us to understand the benefits and challenges of delivering blood at the scene of the accident - in effect moving the hospital to the patient."

Professor Gavin Perkins, from Warwick Medical School, said: "Major trauma is a major cause of death in the UK. Treatment with blood and clotting factors can be lifesaving, but blood is a scarce resource and we currently don't know when and where the best place to administer it is.

"The RePHILL study will explore whether giving blood and clotting factors outside of a hospital is safe and more effective than giving it in the resuscitation room in hospital.

"The first trial of its kind, it will help shape the future treatments of people with major traumatic injuries treated by the NHS."

One of the researchers, Dr Nicholas Crombie, an air ambulance doctor and consultant trauma anaesthetist at University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, said: "For eligible patients, the receipt of blood products prior to hospital admission will be determined by what the ambulance that attends to them is carrying.

"The research team will then look at a number of outcomes, including mortality as well as physical and biochemical evidence of the effectiveness of resuscitation, in order to determine whether there are any differences between those who receive blood products and those who receive clear fluids."

Source: University of Warwick

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