By Katarina Delgado, Kevin Matyi, and Jager Robinson
Stony Brook university Hospital has been certified to perform mobile blood transfusions by the New York State Department of Health on Feb. 19, making it the first hospital in New York State approved for the procedure.
The Department of Health as of this year has allowed hospitals to begin training Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) employees to give blood transfusions, Dr. Dennis Galanakis, the Director of the Blood Bank at Stony Brook University Hospital, said.
“The reason we are the first is that this is a new initiative recommended by the State Health Department last fall to maximize the opportunity to save the lives during the emergency transport of patients,” he added.
The state health department requires nearly 40 different stipulations during the accreditation process, such as the hospital providing documentation of acquiring the correct equipment for the procedure and a written letter from the hospital accepting responsibility for the training of the Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT).
“In order to get approval, we needed to stipulate specific plans of how it would be initiated and operated on an ongoing basis,” Galanakis said.
The ambulances at the hospital have already been outfitted with the correct equipment for the mobile blood transfusions. The hospital has also trained paramedics to perform these procedures when necessary.
“That process took 3 to 4 months to put together all the paperwork and the training,” Steven Slovensky, the Director for Emergency Medical Services (EMS) at the Hospital, and manager of the certification process, said.
“The training entails two didactic hours of online training that goes through blood product administration, safety, and how to do it, when to do it, why to do it, different information about the types of blood products themselves,” Slovensky added.
After the training session, the EMTs work one-on-one with a supervisor to ensure that the training sunk in and they understand what they are doing.
Galanakis said that Blood Services, more commonly referred to as the Blood Bank, both manages all blood donations to the Hospital and approves all of the training that EMTs are put through, while EMS decides how long the training will take.
“In the end it’s not about diagnosing people, it’s about transporting them as quickly and safely as possible while trying to maintain or improve their vitals and being calm during potentially a chaotic moment in people’s lives,” Jackie Dullea, a EMT trainee at Stony Brook University, said.
The procedure will be used when the hospital is transporting patients from other facilities while in critical condition. Before the accreditation, the hospital needed to bring a nurse legally authorized to perform blood transfusions in case a transfusion was necessary.
When asked about the most difficult part of her job, Olivia Hoerner, a EMT-Basic, said communication and stress define the experience.
“You just want to make sure the patient is comfortable given whatever injury or illness they have and you don’t want to make it any worse,” Hoerner said.
Hoerner also raised concerns with the new on board procedure.
“Blood transfusions might add extra transport time which might be a little contradictory,” she said.
“If they’re impending death cases where they’re actively bleeding out, it would definitely increase their chances for survival, giving them back the volume they lose [via the blood transfusions] but it could potentially increase on scene time keeping them away from trauma units,” she continued.