Blood transfusion has been used to treat the injured since the US Civil War. Now, it saves the lives of tens of thousands of injured patients each year. However, not everyone who receives blood benefits, and some recipients are injured by the transfusion itself. Effective blood therapy in trauma management requires an integration of information from diverse sources, including data relating to trauma and blood use epidemiology, medical systems management, and clinical care. Issues of current clinical concern in highly developed trauma systems include how to manage massive transfusion events, how to limit blood use and so minimize exposure to transfusion risks, how to integrate new hemorrhage control modalities, and how to deal with blood shortages. Less developed trauma systems are primarily concerned with speeding transport to specialized facilities and assembling trauma center resources. This article reviews the factors that effect blood use in urgent trauma care.
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