The effect of anti-shock garments on prehospital survival: The need for controlled clinical trials

Paul E. Pepe, William H. Bickell, Kenneth L. Mattox

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


There exists strong sentiment, among emergency medical personnel and physicians alike, that the pneumatic anti-shock garment (PASG) “saves lives.” As a result, controlled studies have been criticized as the “withholding of important therapy.” The purpose of this presentation is to confirm the need for controlled clinical trials of the PASG. Despite an early report that the PASG offered no advantage in terms of the presenting emergency center Trauma Score (TS), similar disparagements have continued, particularly because survival data were not discussed. The present report is a pilot analysis of the effect of the PASG on the prehospital survival of patients arriving at an urban trauma center in the United States. In the study, sixty-eight patients were assigned randomly to control and PASG groups in a prospective investigation involving injured patients with systemic hypotension. The 32 control patients, whose mean initial systolic blood pressure (BP) was 59 ± 32 mm Hg, and the 36 PASG-treated patients, whose mean initial BP was 55 ± 31 mm Hg, were found to be well matched for age, sex, type and location of injuries, initial field TS; response, field management, and transport times; and the total amount of intravenous crystalloid infused. The results demonstrated no significant difference between the control and PASG-treated groups in terms of those pronounced dead on arrival at the trauma center (9/32 vs. 10/36). Further studies are therefore justified to determine how the PASG affects the long-term morbidity and mortality of injury victims, particularly those within certain sub-groups such as penetrating abdominal versus those with penetrating thoracic injuries. This report reaffirms the need for early responsible, scientific scrutiny of prehospital interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)40-45
Number of pages6
JournalPrehospital and disaster medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1987

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine
  • Emergency


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