May 8 (UPI) -- People suffering severe traumatic brain injury may have a better chance of surviving when emergency medical responders follow certain guidelines before getting to the hospital, new findings show.
When EMS workers focused on preventing low oxygen, low blood pressure and hyperventilation, survival rates for severe TBI patients doubled, according to research published Wednesday in JAMA Surgery.
Survival rates tripled for people with TBI when EMS workers inserted breathing tubes, the researchers say.
"This demonstrates the significance of conducting studies in real-world settings and brings a strong evidence base to the guidelines," Patrick Bellgowan, program director at National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, said in a news release. "It suggests we can systematically increase the chances of saving lives of thousands of people who suffer severe traumatic brain injuries."
The researchers compared patient survival rates throughout Arizona before and after the guidelines were revised for people who lost consciousness after a head injury.
Overall, the guidelines were linked to a higher survival to hospital admission, the researchers says.
The guidelines were created in 2000 and revised in 2007.
"We found a therapeutic sweet spot and showed that the guidelines had an enormous impact on people with severe TBI," Bentley Bobrow, a researcher at the University of Arizona and study lead author, said in a news release. "The guidelines did not make a difference in the moderate TBI group because those individuals would most likely have survived anyway and, unfortunately, the extent of injuries sustained in many critical patients was too extreme to overcome."