Stony Brook gets mobile transfusion certification

In a New York State first, Stony Brook University Hospital’s ambulance service has been approved to administer blood transfusions on the road.

The certification allows standard ambulance crews to administer blood components as necessary while transporting patients from one medical facility to another, without the presence of a doctor or transfusion-certified nurse.

Previously, paramedics and other EMS personnel were not allowed to administer blood products during ambulance transportation, a potentially dangerous hiccup for emergency patients and a significant strain on emergency physicians.

“This meant that if a patient was being transported here from another hospital and emergently needed a blood transfusion, we had to ensure that a nurse or other appropriately credentialed person was on the ambulance,” noted Eric Niegelberg, Stony Brook Medicine’s associate operations director for emergency services and internal medicine. “This could result in delays of transfer for critically ill patients.”

To become certified as an Ambulance Transfusion Service, Stony Brook required specialized training for its EMTs and paramedics, including lessons on initiating additional units of blood during transportation and monitoring transfusions. Training was conducted by a state-certified instruction coordinator and by Dr. Dennis Galanakis, director of the SBUH Blood Bank, and must be updated annually, Stony Brook Medicine said in a statement.

The SBUH ambulance service also had to demonstrate that it could transport blood and blood products in certified coolers, utilize appropriate monitoring technologies and recognize and treat adverse reactions according to established transfusion protocols. The service also had to submit written plans detailing its mobile-transfusion procedures, and will be required to repeat the process every two years for recertification.

“This achievement is well-deserved, particularly after a long regulatory process,” Suffolk County EMS Director Bob Delagi said in a statement. “Patients will undoubtedly benefit from this expanded level of care.”