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Stopping the bleed out to save lives

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Across the United States, traumatic accidents happen constantly. There are shootings, stabbings, car wrecks, falls and other accidents that can create a fatal bleed out situation.

Yet these accidents don’t have to lead to those dramatic situations. A two-year investigation by The Dallas Morning News and the San Antonio Express-News has found dozens of deaths each day—from rural towns in Texas to major cities—could potentially be prevented with faster access to blood.

After more than 140 interviews and reviews of hundreds of medical journal articles, The News and Express-News found that the vast majority of emergency medical providers across Texas and nationwide are unequipped and underfunded, leaving them unprepared to fully treat patients with severe internal bleeding.

Across the country, bleeding patients receive drastically different care, depending on where they are injured and the emergency providers who treat them, the investigation found.

Traumatic injury is the top killer of children and adults under 45, far outstripping cancer and heart disease as a leading cause of premature death. In 2020, traumatic injury killed at alarming rates, claiming an American about every 3½ minutes, a Texan every 42 minutes and a Dallas County resident every 7½ hours, according to the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. No one is immune, regardless of age, race or socioeconomic status.

A solution is straightforward and within reach. If paramedics widely carried units of blood, as military medics have done for years, tens of thousands of deaths could be prevented annually. But the country’s fragmented health care system does not allow for an easy fix.


Lauren Caruba is an investigative reporter for The Dallas Morning News and was formerly with the San Antonio Express-News.

"The Source" is a live call-in program airing Mondays through Thursdays from 12-1 p.m. Leave a message before the program at (210) 615-8982. During the live show, call 833-877-8255, email thesource@tpr.org.

This interview was recorded on Monday, December 4, 2023.

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David Martin Davies can be reached at dmdavies@tpr.org and on Twitter at @DavidMartinDavi