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What's new in whole blood resuscitation? In the trauma bay and beyond.

PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Transfusion therapy commonly supports patient care during life-threatening injury and critical illness. Herein we examine the recent resurgence of whole blood (WB) resuscitation for patients in hemorrhagic shock following trauma and other causes of severe bleeding.

RECENT FINDINGS: A growing body of literature supports the use of various forms of WB for hemostatic resuscitation in military and civilian trauma practice. Different types of WB include warm fresh whole blood (FWB) principally used in the military and low titer O cold stored whole blood (LTOWB) used in a variety of military and civilian settings. Incorporating WB initial resuscitation alongside subsequent component therapy reduces aggregate blood product utilization and improves early mortality without adversely impacting intensive care unit length of stay or infection rate. Applications outside the trauma bay include prehospital WB and use in patients with nontraumatic hemorrhagic shock.

SUMMARY: Whole blood may be transfused as FWB or LTOWB to support a hemostatic approach to hemorrhagic shock management. Although the bulk of WB resuscitation literature has appropriately focused on hemorrhagic shock following injury, extension to other etiologies of severe hemorrhage will benefit from focused inquiry to address cost, efficacy, approach, and patient-centered outcomes.

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