Massive Blood Loss


Definitions of massive blood loss vary

  • = loss of one blood volume within a 24 hr period
  • = blood loss > 150mL/min
  • = 50% blood volume loss in 3 hours


(1) stop bleeding
(2) rapid and effective restoration of an adequate blood volume
(3) maintain blood composition -> haemostasis, O2 carrying capacity, oncotic pressure and biochemistry


(1) Restore circulating volume

  • wide bore IV access -> send initial bloods to lab including cross match
  • access to adequate volumes of pre-warmed crystalloid & colloid
  • synthetic colloids -> max 1.5L in 24 hours

(2) Contact key personnel

  • surgeon
  • OT
  • haematologist
  • blood bank

(3) Stop bleeding

  • OT
  • interventional radiology
  • damage control surgical management

(4) Request laboratory investigation

  • full set of bloods with correct ID information
  • may need to give products before results available
  • repeat full set of bloods every 30min

(5) Activate the Massive Transfusion Protocol (example shown below)

  • 3U of whole blood
  • Box 1: 2 RBC, 2 FFP
  • Box 2: 4 RBC, 4 FFP, 1 adult platelets
  • Box 3: 4 RBC, 4 FFP, 3 Cryo
  • consider FVIIa 90mcg/kg if indicated
  • Box 4: 4 RBC, 4 FFP, 1 adult platelets
  • subsequent boxes alternate Box 3 and 4
  • repeat coag’s, platelets, FBC, ABG, Ca2+ Q30min



  • Hb > 80 g/L
  • may need O Rh -ve
  • can use O Rh +ve for male or post menopausal female
  • lab needs 45 minutes or longer to complete full cross match
  • use blood warmer
  • consider cell salvage
  • 1U raises Hb for 10 g/L


  • Plt > 100 for multi or CNS trauma
  • Plt > 50 for others
  • platelet count will be less < 50 after x 2 blood volume replaced
  • neonate or small child 10mL/kg
  • 1 adult unit = 5 standard units raises count by 30


  • aim for INR 1.5 & APTT 75
  • child’s dose = 15mL/kg
  • adult dose = 4 U
  • allow 30min to thaw


  • aim = fibrinogen > 1.0 g/L and FVIII replacement
  • child’s dose = 5mL/kg
  • adult dose = 1 pack/30 kg


  • need to triage patients to ensure that only potentially salvageable patients receive rFVIIa
  • need to have at least reached massive transfusion criteria
  • consider if =
  • 10U RBC
  • 10U FFP
  • 2U PLT
  • 2U Cryo
  • reversed warfarin (vit K, prothrombin X)
  • reversed heparin (protamine)
  • considered anti-fibrinolytic agents (tranexamic acid or aprotinin)

If ongoing bleeding:

(1) pH <7.2 or T < 35 C -> Damage Control Surgery

(2) otherwise rFVIIa 100mcg/kg, wait 20 min and repeat -> needs platelets > 100 and fibrinogen >1

  • Damage control surgery = abandonment of definitive surgery, rapid haemostasis, packing and closure -> transfer to ICU for warming, correction of coagulopathy and inotropes -> definitive treatment undertaken later


Haemostatic Failure

  • dilution (especially platelets)
  • depletion
  • consumption
  • decreased production
  • DIC

-> early monitoring, bed side testing
-> replace with appropriate products

Impaired O2 Transport

  • fluid over/underload
  • defective RBC function
  • impaired Hb function
  • DIC
  • MODS
  • microaggregates

Electrolytes and Metabolic Disturbance

  • hyperkalaemia/hypokalaemia -> use younger blood + specific therapy
  • sodium overload
  • acid-base disturbances
  • citrate toxicity (hypocalcaemia) -> replace Ca2+
  • hypothermia
  • metabolic acidaemia
  • fever from foreign proteins in donor plasma
  • iron overload

Serological Incompatibility

  • immediate generalized reaction (anaphylaxis, TRALI, ABO and Rh incompatibility)
  • delayed transfusion reaction (Rh, Kidd, low AB titres) -> haemolysis

-> avoid cross-match issues
-> allocate sufficient resources (staff and protocols)
-> TRALI prevention (leukodepletion, filters)

Transmission of Infection

  • viral (hepatitis, HIV, CMV)
  • bacterial (Yersinia, Treponema palladium, Pseudomonas, Staphylococcus)
  • parasites (malaria, toxoplasmosis)

-> blood bank precautions
-> monitoring for and antibiotics

Impaired reticuloendothelial Function

Vasoactive Reactions

  • kinin activation
  • damaged platelets and granulocytes


  • transfusion-associated circulatory overload (TACO)
  • air embolism
  • thrombophlebitis
  • distraction from stopping bleeding
  • graft vs host disease
  • immunomodulation (increased risk of infection, tumour recurrence, activation of latent viral infections, recurrent miscarriage)

CCC Transfusion Series

Blood Products

Cryoprecipitate, Fresh Frozen Plasma (FFP), PlateletsRed Cells (RBCs)

Concentrates: Prothrombinex, Factor VIIa, Fibrinogen Concentrate


Rivaroxaban / Apixaban / Enoxaparin: Andexanet Alfa, Rivaroxaban and Bleeding

DabigatranIdarucuzimabDabigatran and bleeding


WarfarinVitamin K / FFP / PTx, Warfarin Reversal, Warfarin Toxicity


Coagulation StudiesTEG / ROTEM (Thromboelastography)Platelet function assays

General Topics

Acute Coagulopathy of TraumaBlood BankBlood conservation strategiesBlood Product Compatibilities, Blood transfusion risksDisseminated Intravascular CoagulationMassive blood lossMassive transfusion protocol (MTP)Modifications to blood components,Procedures and CoagulopathyStorage LesionsTRALITransfusion Literature Summaries, Transfusion Reactions


CCC 700 6

Critical Care


Chris is an Intensivist and ECMO specialist at the Alfred ICU in Melbourne. He is also a Clinical Adjunct Associate Professor at Monash University. He is a co-founder of the Australia and New Zealand Clinician Educator Network (ANZCEN) and is the Lead for the ANZCEN Clinician Educator Incubator programme. He is on the Board of Directors for the Intensive Care Foundation and is a First Part Examiner for the College of Intensive Care Medicine. He is an internationally recognised Clinician Educator with a passion for helping clinicians learn and for improving the clinical performance of individuals and collectives.

After finishing his medical degree at the University of Auckland, he continued post-graduate training in New Zealand as well as Australia’s Northern Territory, Perth and Melbourne. He has completed fellowship training in both intensive care medicine and emergency medicine, as well as post-graduate training in biochemistry, clinical toxicology, clinical epidemiology, and health professional education.

He is actively involved in in using translational simulation to improve patient care and the design of processes and systems at Alfred Health. He coordinates the Alfred ICU’s education and simulation programmes and runs the unit’s education website, INTENSIVE.  He created the ‘Critically Ill Airway’ course and teaches on numerous courses around the world. He is one of the founders of the FOAM movement (Free Open-Access Medical education) and is co-creator of litfl.com, the RAGE podcast, the Resuscitology course, and the SMACC conference.

His one great achievement is being the father of three amazing children.

On Twitter, he is @precordialthump.

| INTENSIVE | RAGE | Resuscitology | SMACC

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