Emerg Med J doi:10.1136/emermed-2012-201967
  • Original article

Use of prothrombin complex concentrates: 4-year experience of a national aeromedical retrieval service servicing remote and rural areas

  1. Stephen Hearns1,3
  1. 1Emergency Medical Retrieval Service, Bond Air Services, Glasgow, UK
  2. 2Emergency Department, Southern General Hospital, Glasgow, UK
  3. 3Emergency Department, Royal Alexandra Hospital, Paisley, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Laura Catriona Robertson, Emergency Medical Retrieval Service, Bond Air Services, Glasgow Helipad, 101 Stobcross Road, Glasgow G3 8QQ, UK; laura.robertson{at}
  • Received 13 September 2012
  • Revised 7 December 2012
  • Accepted 12 December 2012
  • Published Online First 23 January 2013


Introduction Prothrombin complex concentrates (PCCs) are recommended as first-line treatment for acquired or congenital factor II, VII, IX and X deficiencies in situations of major haemorrhage. The Emergency Medical Retrieval Service (EMRS) provides critical care and aeromedical retrieval to patients in remote and rural Scotland. It has an important role in the care of these patients.

Method We sought to determine the incidence of haemorrhage requiring PCC administration in our cohort of patients, and to assess compliance with current national guidelines regarding their storage and use. We searched our database for all patients that received PCCs, or met current guidelines for their administration, and followed them through to hospital discharge. We also conducted a telephone survey of all hospitals served by the EMRS to determine compliance with national standards.

Results During the 42-month study period, 1170 retrieval missions were conducted. Twenty-six retrieved patients had a congenital or acquired clotting factor deficiency and seven met criteria for PCC administration. Of these, only three received PCCs prior to transfer to definitive care. Telephone survey revealed that all the rural general hospitals were served by the EMRS stock PCCs, but only one out of 15 GP-led community hospitals had access to PCCs.

Conclusions In the remote and rural setting where access to definitive care may be limited or delayed, timely administration of PCCs in appropriate patients may improve outcomes. As many rural hospitals do not have access to PCCs, the ability of the EMRS to provide this treatment may improve patient care.

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0.5% - 43% response rate
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