Pre-hospital management of major haemorrhage following trauma: part one

Major haemorrhage remains the highest preventable cause of death following trauma, accounting for 30–40% of trauma mortality (Kauvar et al, 2006). Therefore, pre-hospital intervention is a key aspect of paramedic practice. Paramedics are often first on the scene and have a range of local and systemic treatment options. Pre-hospital medical advances, such as the introduction of tranexamic acid, allow paramedics to deliver a higher standard of care. In addition, the number of patients on anticoagulants and antiplatelet drugs is increasing; therefore, knowledge of how these drugs interact with the haemostatic response would be beneficial. It is important that paramedics fully understand the mechanisms of drugs interacting with the haemostatic response, and the theory underpinning the management of major haemorrhage (Kreuziger et al, 2012). This enables paramedics to understand why they are administering the care they are providing. This article gives a detailed overview of two physiological responses to major haemorrhage: haemostasis and blood pressure. This is followed by an explanation of how these systems are deranged and altered by major haemorrhage through pathophysiological consequences. Finally, recent research covering advances in the understanding of how deranged coagulation occurs is also discussed.

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