Health News

Guide Explains Nonsurgical Management of Major Hemorrhage

A new guide offers recommendations for the nonsurgical management of major hemorrhage, which is a challenging clinical problem.

Major hemorrhage is a significant cause of death and can occur in a myriad of clinical settings.

Dr Jeannie Callum

“In Ontario, we’ve been collecting quality metrics on major hemorrhages to try and make sure that a higher percentage of patients gets the best possible care when they are experiencing significant bleeding,” author Jeannie Callum, MD, professor and director of transfusion medicine at Kingston Health Sciences Centre and Queen’s University in Kingston, Canada, told Medscape Medical News. “There were some gaps, so this is our effort to get open, clear information out to the emergency doctors, intensive care unit doctors, the surgeons, and everyone else involved in managing major hemorrhage, to help close these gaps.”

The guide was published June 5 in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

Fast Care Essential

The guide aims to provide answers, based on the latest research, to questions such as when to activate a massive hemorrhage protocol (MHP), which patients should receive tranexamic acid (TXA), which blood products should be transfused before laboratory results are available, how to monitor the effects of blood transfusion, and when fibrinogen concentrate or prothrombin complex concentrate should be given.

Not all recommendations will be followed, Callum told Medscape, especially in rural hospitals with limited resources. But the guide is adaptable, and rural hospitals can create protocols that are customized to their unique circumstances.

Care must be “perfect and fast” in the first hour of major injury, said Callum. “You need to get a proclotting drug in that first hour if you have a traumatic or postpartum bleed. You have to make sure your clotting factors never fail you throughout your resuscitation. You have to be fast with the transfusion. You have to monitor for the complications of the transfusion, electrolyte disturbances, and the patient’s temperature dropping. It’s a complicated situation that needs a multidisciplinary team.”

Bleeding affects everybody in medicine, from family doctors in smaller institutions who work in emergency departments to obstetricians and surgeons, she added.

“For people under the age of 45, trauma is the most common cause of death. When people die of trauma, they die of bleeding. So many people experience these extreme bleeds. We believe that some of them might be preventable with faster, more standardized, more aggressive care. That’s why we wrote this review,” said Callum.

Administer TXA Quickly  

The first recommendation is to ensure that every hospital has a massive hemorrhage protocol. Such a protocol is vital for the emergency department, operating room, and obstetric unit. “Making sure you’ve got a protocol that is updated every 3 years and adjusted to the local hospital context is essential,” said Callum.

Smaller hospitals will have to adjust their protocols according to the capabilities of their sites. “Some smaller hospitals do not have platelets in stock and get their platelets from another hospital, so you need to adjust your protocol to what you are able to do. Not every hospital can control bleeding in a trauma patient, so your protocol would be to stabilize and call a helicopter. Make sure all of this is detailed so that implementing it becomes automatic,” said Callum.

An MHP should be activated for patients with uncontrolled hemorrhage who meet the clinical criteria of the local hospital and are expected to need blood product support and red blood cells.

“Lots of people bleed, but not everybody is bleeding enough that they need a Code Transfusion,” said Callum. Most patients with gastrointestinal bleeds due to NSAID use can be managed with uncrossed matched blood from the local blood bank, she added. “But in patients who need the full Code Transfusion because they are going to need plasma, clotting factor replacement, and many other drugs, that is when the MHP should be activated. Don’t activate it when you don’t need it, because doing so activates the whole hospital and diverts care away from other patients.”

TXA should be administered as soon as possible after onset of hemorrhage in most patients, with the exception of gastrointestinal hemorrhage, where a benefit has not been shown.

TXA has been a major advance in treating massive bleeding, Callum said. “TXA was invented by a Japanese husband-and-wife research team. We know that it reduces the death rate in trauma and in postpartum hemorrhage, and it reduces the chance of major bleeding with major surgical procedures. We give it routinely in surgical procedures. If a patient gets TXA within 60 minutes of injury, it dramatically reduces the death rate. And it costs $10 per patient. It’s cheap, it’s easy, it has no side effects. It’s just amazing.”

Future research must address several unanswered questions, said Callum. These questions include whether prehospital transfusion improves patient outcomes, whether whole blood has a role in the early management of major hemorrhage, and what role factor concentrates play in patients with major bleeding.

“Optimal Recommendations”

Commenting on the document for Medscape, Bourke Tillmann, MD, PhD, trauma team leader at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and the Ross Tilley Burn Center in Toronto, said, “Overall, I think it is a good overview of MHPs as an approach to major hemorrhage.”

Dr Bourke Tillmann

The review also is timely, since Ontario released its MHP guidelines in 2021, he added. “I would have liked to see more about the treatment aspects than just an overview of an MHP. But if you are the person overseeing the emergency department or running the blood bank, these protocols are incredibly useful and incredibly important.”

“This report is a nice and thoughtful overview of best practices in many areas, especially trauma, and makes recommendations that are optimal, although they are not necessarily practical in all centers,” Eric L. Legome, MD, professor and chair of emergency medicine at Mount Sinai West and Mount Sinai Morningside in New York City, told Medscape.

Dr Eric Legome

“If you’re in a small rural hospital with one lab technician, trying to do all of these things, it will not be possible. These are optimal recommendations that people can use to the best of their ability, but they are not standard of care, because some places will not be able to provide this level of care,” he added.

“This paper provides practical, reasonable advice that should be looked at as you are trying to implement transfusion policies and processes, with the understanding that it is not necessarily applicable or practical for very small hospitals in very rural centers that might not have access to these types of products and tools, but it’s a reasonable and nicely written paper.”

No outside funding for this document was reported. Callum has received research funding from Canadian Blood Services and Octapharma. She sits on the nominating committee with the Association for the Advancement of Blood & Biotherapies and on the data safety monitoring boards for the Tranexamic Acid for Subdural Hematoma trial and the Fibrinogen Replacement in Trauma trial. Tillmann and Legome report no relevant financial relationships.

CMAJ. Published June 5, 2023. Full text

For more news, follow Medscape on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and LinkedIn

Source: Read Full Article