October 22, 2014

Medina
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Research to test plasma’s impact

Medina County victims of roadway crashes and others critically injured who are flown to Cleveland MetroHealth will participate in a national research trial to determine if blood plasma given to trauma patients sooner can save more lives.

Plasma is commonly given to trauma patients at emergency rooms to help with blood clotting and prevent hemorrhaging, one of the leading causes of death in trauma cases.

But doctors cite research that says keeping plasma in emergency medical helicopters and giving it to patients sooner could be the difference between life and death.

Trauma victims flown in MetroHealth’s Life Flight helicopters will receive plasma while in flight to the hospital as part of a national research program. PHOTO PROVIDED

Trauma victims flown in MetroHealth’s Life Flight helicopters will receive plasma while in flight to the hospital as part of a national research program. PHOTO PROVIDED

“It would already be given in ER and we think if we give it earlier it will help more,” said Dr. Jason Sperry, a trauma surgeon at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and the principal investigator in the trial. “Studies suggest the earlier you focus on the tendency towards bleeding, which plasma prevents, the better.”

Patients who fall into the following groups will be enrolled:

–seriously injured patients;

–patients ages 18 to 90;

–gunshot wounds, stab wounds, car accidents, falls from height;

–low blood pressure or bleeding that does not get better with standard treatment;

–transport by helicopter to a participating trauma center.

Because of the nature of the trial — providing emergency trauma care to severely injured patients who may not be able to consent at the time of treatment — the trial had to get FDA approval for an emergency research waiver of consent.

This means all patients will automatically receive the plasma, but either the patient or their families can later opt out of the study.

“It had to have the potential of significant benefit for us to study it,” Sperry said. “This is the only way the study could be done to prove the benefit.”

Residents who do not want to receive the plasma automatically can obtain a bright pink bracelet that reads “NO PAMP” to opt out, by contacting Meghan Buck at (412)
864-1599 or email
at buckml@upmc.edu.

MetroHealth officials said there is no certain start date for the trial but they expect it could begin in May. The study will run for four years.

The study was funded by the U.S. epartment of Defense, and approved by the Food and Drug Administration and the institutional review boards of six hospitals across the country.

Sperry said the program was funded by the military to determine the benefits of keeping plasma on helicopters not only to serve civilians but to potentially save the lives of soldiers in the field.

Patients flown by emergency helicopter to Metro Health, and hospitals at the University of Pittsburgh, University of Louisville, University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Knoxville, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, and Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., all will receive plasma en route to the emergency room.

Contact reporter Dan Pompili at (330) 721-4012 or dpompili@medina-gazette.com.