Management of bleeding in trauma victims by Portuguese nurses in prehospital setting

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Mauro AL Mota
Margarida Reis Santos
Eduardo JF Santos
Andrea Figueiredo
Filipe Melo
Sara Albuquerque
Madalena Cunha


Trauma, patient care team, prehospital care, haemorrhage, nursing


Introduction: External bleeding is the leading preventable cause of death from traumatic injuries. Implementation of guidelines for its control have been associated with a significant reduction in mortality. The objectives of this study were to provide a characterisation of trauma patients with external bleeding and to compare the outcomes from specific autonomous interventions applied by nurses in prehospital care. Methods: A non-randomised prospective study was conducted in the Immediate Life Support Ambulances in Portugal, from 1 March 2019 to 30 April 2020. Patients were divided into two groups according to whether external bleeding was controlled or not on their arrival at the emergency room. Results: A total of 189 patients were included in this study (73.0% men; mean age of 53.6 years). Among these patients, 140 (74.1%) had their external bleeding controlled by prehospital nurse’s intervention. The average time of assistance at the incident site was 31.5 min. Patients with uncontrolled bleeding had a higher average rescue time (30.8 ±15.2 vs 33.7 ±13.0). Cryotherapy was administered to 15.9% of all patients and 93.3% of these patients arrived at the emergency room with controlled bleeding (p=0.01). Discussion: Despite the substantial reduction in the number of patients who keep bleeding after prehospital care, it was observed that one fifth of patients have external bleeding on arrival at the emergency room. Cryotherapy has been shown to be effective in controlling external bleeding. Failure to use haemostatic agents may explain the ineffective control of more complex external bleeding.

Contribution to Emergency Nursing Practice:

  • The current literature on management of bleeding in trauma patients is scarce and contradictory, especially in terms of interventions provided by prehospital teams led by a registered nurse. In addition, interventions vary from country to country.

  • This article increases awareness of autonomous interventions implemented by prehospital nurses to manage external bleeding.

  • Key implications for emergency nursing practice identified in this study suggest greater fluid therapy appears harmful while cryotherapy achieved the best results (control of the bleeding on emergency room arrival). This may contribute to the review of institutional algorithms and training in this area.


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