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BACKGROUND: Uncontrolled bleeding is a common cause of preventable mortality in trauma. While it is intuitive that delays to hemostasis may lead to worse outcomes, the impacts of these delays remain incompletely explored. This systematic review aimed to characterize the extant definitions of delayed hemostatic intervention and to quantify the impacts of delays on clinical outcomes.

METHODS: We searched EMBASE, MEDLINE, and Web of Science from inception to August 2022. Studies defining "delayed intervention" and those comparing times to intervention among adults presenting to hospital with blunt or penetrating injuries who required major hemostatic intervention were eligible. The coprimary outcomes were mortality and the definition of delay to hemostasis used. Secondary outcomes included units of packed red blood cells received, length of stay in hospital, and length of stay in intensive care.

RESULTS: We identified 2,050 studies, with 24 studies including 10,168 patients meeting the inclusion criteria. The majority of studies were retrospective observational cohort studies, and most were at high risk of bias. A variety of injury patterns and hemostatic interventions were considered, with 69.6% of studies reporting a statistically significant impact of increased time to intervention on mortality. Definitions of delayed intervention ranged from 10 minutes to 4 hours. Conflicting data were reported for impact of time on receipt of blood products, while one study found a significant impact on intensive care length of stay. No studies assessed length of stay in hospital.

CONCLUSION: The extant literature is heterogeneous with respect to injuries included, methods of hemostasis employed, and durations of delay examined. While the majority of the included studies demonstrated a statistically significant relationship between time to intervention and mortality, an evidence-informed definition of delayed intervention for bleeding trauma patients at large has not been solidified. In addition, standardized research is needed to establish targets, which could reduce morbidity and mortality.

LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Systematic Review; Level IV.

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