All posts by TheTraumaPro

MTP Week Part 3: How To Build Your Massive Transfusion Protocol

Massive Transfusion Protocol (MTP) week continues! I’m releasing the next Trauma MedEd newsletter to subscribers at the end of the week, which deals with advanced MTP topics. So leading up to that, I am reviewing the basics for the next several days. I’ll continue today with information on deactivating and analyzing your MTP.

Deactivation. There are two components to this: recognizing that high volume blood products are no longer needed, and communicating this with the blood bank. As bleeding comes under surgical control, and CBC and clotting parameters (and maybe TEG/ROTEM) normalize, the pace of transfusion slows, and ultimately stops. Until this happens, the MTP must stay active. Even a low level of product need should be met with coolers stocked with the appropriate ratios of products.

There are two ways to stop the MTP: the surgeon or their surrogate calls the blood bank (when no more blood products are to be used), or the blood bank calls the surgeon after the next cooler has been waiting for pickup for a finite period of time. This is typically about 30 minutes. It is extremely helpful if the exact deactivation time is recorded in the electronic medical record. However, this information can be obtained from the blood bank.

Analysis. It’s all over, and now the real fun begins. For most trauma centers, the blood bank maintains extensive data about every aspect of each MTP event. They record what units were released and when, when they were returned, which ones were used, were they at a safe temperature on return or were they wasted, and much, much more! Typically, one of the blood bank supervisors or a pathologist then compiles and reviews this data. What happens next varies by hospital.

Ideally, the information from every MTP activation gets passed on to the trauma program. Presentation at your transfusion committee is fine, but this data is most suitable for presentation at the trauma operations committee. And if significant variances are present (e.g. product ratios are way off) then it should also be discussed at your multidisciplinary trauma PI committee as well.

There are relatively few standard tools out there that allow the display of MTP data in an easily digestible form. Here are some of the key points that must be reviewed by the trauma PI program:

  • Demographics
  • Components used (for ratio analysis)
  • Lab values (INR, TEG, Hgb, etc)
  • Logistics
  • Waste

I am aware of two tools, the Broxton form and an MTP audit tool from the Australian National Blood Authority. The Broxton tool covers all the basics and includes some additional data points that cover activation criteria, TXA administration, and administration of uncrossmatched blood. Click here to check it out. The Australian tool is much more robust with more data points that make a lot of sense. You can download a copy by clicking here.

Tomorrow, I’ll continue with activation criteria for the MTP.

And don’t forget to subscribe to TraumaMed if you want to get a full newsletter discussing advanced MTP topics this Friday. Otherwise, you’ll be reading a post on CT scans and rib fractures in the elderly! Subscribe and download back issues by clicking here.

Links: (note – future links will not be live until 9am the day they are published)

MTP Week Part 2: How To Build Your Massive Transfusion Protocol

Massive Transfusion Protocol (MTP) week continues! I’m releasing the next Trauma MedEd newsletter to subscribers at the end of the week, which deals with advanced MTP topics. So leading up to that, I am reviewing the basics for the next several days. I’ll continue today with some tips on the logistics of your MTP.

MTP logistics include details such as who will be delivering the blood, what actually goes in each cooler, what ratios should be used, limitations imposed by the use of frozen plasma, and documentation. I’ll discuss details about ratios and FFP in the next Trauma MedEd newsletter.

The runners who travel between blood bank and the patient need to be selected carefully. Blood bank tech? Not ideal because they’ve got more important work to do. ED or OR tech? Maybe, as long as you’ve got a reliable pool. Student or resident? Probably not, because they may not know their way to the blood bank, which are typically placed in the farthest corner of the basement as possible. One of the most creative solutions I’ve seen is the use of a hospital security officer. Think about it. They know the hospital layout cold, including that obscure corner where the blood bank is located. And there are plenty around all the time!

Documentation is critically important, both in the trauma bay and the blood bank. Trauma activations, especially ones requiring MTP, are very fast moving and complex. Two sets of documentation are crucial: accurate records of blood product administration (on the trauma flow sheet), and documentation of just about everything else (in the blood bank). A specific timestamp on the trauma flow sheet that records the exact time of activation of MTP is a big plus.

What about coolers? I’ve seen everything used from uninsulated plastic buckets, picnic coolers, and pneumatic tube containers to large, self-contained rolling refrigeration units. The choice of container really boils down to cost vs waste. The cheaper it is, the less insulated it is, the more likely that blood products will be discarded due to high temperature if not transfused promptly. The best blend of cost vs utility seems to be the good, old-fashioned picnic cooler. It’s very portable, reasonably cheap, and can be tested for temperature maintenance. Just be sure to secure a pouch to the outside to keep platelets at room temperature to maintain full functionality.

Here’s a sample MTP cooler that’s ready for use. The platelets are in the pouch on the left. Note the reminder to prompt the team to give TXA if not contraindicated. This is often forgotten in the heat of the trauma activation.

Who actually runs your MTP? In some ways, it should run itself. Coolers get delivered, products get transfused. However, some decision making is needed to decide how long to continue and whether any tweaking of product ratios needs to happen. In the emergency department, the surgeon or emergency physician can do this. But once a trauma patient arrives in the OR, that is no longer the case. The emergency physician was left behind in the ED and the surgeon is up to her elbows in trouble. What about the anesthesiologist? Nope, they are busy keeping the patient safely asleep, regulating rapid infusions, and actually administering the blood.

Most of the time, however, these two physicians actually end up running the MTP while multi-tasking at their other job. Unfortunately, this can lead to errors and delays. One best practice to consider: a highly trained trauma resuscitation nurse or advanced practice provider (APP) can run the MTP from the sidelines. They travel with the patient from ED to OR, managing the MTP the entire time. This offloads responsibility from busier people.

Tomorrow, I’ll continue with MTP deactivation and analysis.

And don’t forget to subscribe to TraumaMed if you want to get a full newsletter discussing advanced MTP topics this Friday. Otherwise, you’ll be reading a post on CT scans and rib fractures in the elderly! Subscribe and download back issues by clicking here.

Links: (note – future links will not be live until 9am the day they are published)

MTP Week Part I: How To Build Your Massive Transfusion Protocol

It’s Massive Transfusion Protocol (MTP) week! I’m releasing the next Trauma MedEd newsletter to subscribers at the end of the week, which deals with advanced MTP topics. So leading up to that, I’ll be reviewing the basics for the next several days. I’ll start today with tips on how to build a solid MTP at your center.

Your massive transfusion protocol is a complex set of processes that touch many, many areas within your hospital. There are five basic components (and a few sub-components) to any MTP, so let’s dig into them one by one. They are:

  • Universality
  • Activation
  • Logistics
    • Components
    • Runners
    • Documentation
    • Coolers
  • Deactivation
  • Analysis

Let’s scrutinize each one, starting with the first two today.

Universality. This means that there should be one, and only one MTP in your hospital. I’ve seen some hospitals that have one MTP for trauma, one for cardiothoracic surgery, one for OB, one for GI, and on and on. Yes, each of those services deals with patients who are suffering from blood loss. But it’s the same blood that your trauma patients lose! There’s no need to create a protocol for each, with different ratios, extra drugs, etc. This can and will create confusion in the blood bank which may lead to serious errors.

Activation. This consists of two parts: how do we decide to activate, and then how does everyone involved find out that the MTP is actually being activated? I’ll discuss activation criteria on Thursday. But what about the notification process? Phone call? Order in the electronic medical record (EMR)? Smoke signals?

The most reliable method is a good, old-fashioned phone call. Do not use your EMR except for documentation purposes. Unless there is a very reliable system in the blood bank that translates an EMR order into an annoying alarm or flashing lights, don’t rely on this at all.

Then decide upon the minimum amount of information that the blood bank needs to begin preparing blood products. This usually consists of a name or temporary patient identifier, sex, and location of activation. Ensure that an ID or transfusion band is affixed to the patient so that wrong blood products are not given in multiple patient events.

Tomorrow, I’ll continue with the logistics of the MTP.

And don’t forget to subscribe to TraumaMed if you want to get a full newsletter discussing advanced MTP topics this Friday. Otherwise, you’ll be reading a post on CT scans and rib fractures in the elderly! Subscribe and download back issues by clicking here.

Links: (note – future links will not be live until 9am the day they are published)

FINALLY! The Next Trauma MedEd Newsletter Is Ready For Release!

I’m finally back on track! After a multi-month hiatus, the next Trauma MedEd newsletter will be released at the end of next week. In this issue, I will finish my coverage of the Massive Transfusion Protocol (MTP).

Topics will include:

  • What’s the big deal about product ratios?
  • Use of tranexamic acid (TXA) in MTP
  • Is TEG a useful adjunct to the MTP?
  • The newest greatest thing: good old whole blood
  • and more!

As always, this issue will go to all of my subscribers first. If you are not yet one of them, click this link to sign up now and/or download back issues.

Unfortunately, non-subscribers will have to wait even a little longer until I release the issue on this blog, about a week later. So sign up now!

Glasgow Coma Scale For Trauma Activation: What’s The Optimal Score?

Last month, I posted a survey to  find out the Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) values trauma centers were using to trigger their highest level trauma activation. Nearly 150 people responded, providing a nice snapshot of practices worldwide. Today, I’ll summarize the responses and provide a bit of commentary about them.

There were a total of 147 respondents from around the world. I tried to eliminate duplicates from the same center using a self-reported postal code. However, this was an optional field, so there is the possibility that a few crept in. Readers from at least six countries outside the US also responded.

The question  was: “What is the highest GCS score that triggers a top-level trauma activation at your trauma center?”

Here is a chart that shows the results. The proper way to read it is “a trauma activation is called if GCS < xx” where xx is the score under the bar in the chart.

The whole point to calling a trauma activation is to have the full trauma team and infrastructure (labs, imaging, blood, etc.) in place to rapidly assess a patient with life-threatening injuries. In theory this should afford them the best probability of survival.

So what is the optimal GCS score to activate your trauma team? Unfortunately, this remains difficult to answer exactly. From the chart, you can see that the most common scores were 8, 9, and 13. Why such a spread?

The GCS 8 and 9 levels are a no-brainer (ha!). These patients are comatose or nearly so, and obviously need prompt attention such as airway control, head CT, and neurosurgical consultation. But what about the patients with GCS 13? They have lost two points, typically for eye-opening and verbal response. This may indeed indicate  a significant head injury. But all too often we see this same score in patients who are intoxicated. Do we really need (or want) to activate the full team for each and every intoxicated patient? Can we screen them out in some way?

The answer to both questions is yes. The most important tip is to know your patient population. There is an association between GCS and need for operative intervention that was oft-quoted in the ATLS course. However, I have not been able to find a definitive paper on this topic.

I recommend that you tap into your trauma registry and create a chart that shows presenting GCS vs early neuro-intervention (ICP monitor or craniectomy within 24 hours). Find the GCS score where you see a “significant” bump in the number needing a procedure, and use this as your trauma activation threshold. This report will automatically take into account the number of intoxicated patients you treat.

I would also recommend you do a separate report on age vs need for neuro-intervention with GCS<15. The older population tends to require craniectomy for TBI more often and at higher GCS levels than younger people. You may factor this into your single GCS criterion, or add a separate one at a different level for patients over 55, or 60, or whatever reflects your patient age mix.

Bottom line: Make sure your GCS trauma activation criteria adequately identify your patients who truly have a need for speed in their trauma evaluation. A GCS of 8 or 9 may be too low, and a score in the teens is probably more appropriate for most centers. Use your trauma registry to determine the best score for you so you can capture the patients who have critical needs while trying to keep overtriage under control.