Portable Blood (Gas) Analyzer in a Helicopter Emergency Medical Service

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Introduction: In prehospital helicopter emergency medical services (HEMS), the medical team frequently manages critical patients with only limited, noninvasive monitoring options on-site and during HEMS transport. To gain deeper insight into the patient's pathology and to track prehospital treatment effects, a point-of-care blood (gas) analyzer appears desirable also in HEMS. Thus, we hypothesized that prehospital blood (gas) analysis is feasible in the HEMS setting. Methods: A prehospital evaluation of a portable blood (gas) analyzer (i-Stat 1; Abbott, Chicago, IL) with appropriate laboratory cartridges was performed within the Dutch HEMS Lifeliner 1, serving a region of ∼4.5 million inhabitants. Venous blood (gas) measurements were performed in our HEMS collective in both trauma and nontrauma cases. Results: The HEMS team identified benefits (eg, portability and speed) and limitations (eg, a narrow operational temperature range) regarding the tested blood (gas) analyzer. Regarding the actual blood (gas) results, the team collected results without major abnormalities but also cases identifying major pathologies, including several cases of marked acidosis, refractory hypoglycemia, or severe anemia. Conclusion: In conclusion, portable blood (gas) analysis proved feasible in an HEMS operation but with relevant limitations. Future studies will have to show how these limitations can be overcome and how the implementation of portable blood (gas) analyzers may support improved patient outcome.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)302-304
JournalAir Medical Journal
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2019

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