First Aid

Severe Bleeding

Bleeding that lasts for more than 20 minutes:

old think: Apply a tourniquet tightly above the gash to stop the bleeding.

new think: Apply firm, direct pressure and be sure to keep the wound elevated.

why: Cutting off blood flow to an appendage with a tourniquet could destroy vital tissue around the wound, which could lead to partial amputation. A safer but no less effective approach: Apply firm, direct pressure to the gash with a clean, cool, wet washcloth and elevate the affected part of the body. Then, get to the nearest emergency room for treatment. (Don't assume your child will be given stitches, though. Today, ER doctors have other, quicker options -- like special glues, tapes, and staples -- for repairing wounds, and these often require less follow–up care than stitches.)


Wendy Lucid, M.D., F.A.C.E.P., director of pediatric emergency medicine at Phoenix Children?s Hospital in Arizona

Alfred Sacchetti, M.D., F.A.C.E.P., emergency physician with the American College of Emergency Physicians and associate director of emergency medicine at Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center in Camden, New Jersey

Pamela Ross, M.D., F.A.C.E.P., assistant professor of emergency medicine and pediatrics at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.

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