10 First Aid Mistakes

emergency, ER, emergency room, first aid, wounds, wound care, dressing, bandages, band-aids, quikclot, honey, insulin, krazy glue, EFT, emotional freedom technique, pain, bleeding, clottingSometimes, the first aid measures taken on the scene before a patient arrives at the hospital can make all the difference. Here are the 10 most common first aid mistakes -- and what you should do instead.

1. Cut off finger part

Don't try to preserve the loose part by placing it directly on ice.

Do wrap the severed part in damp gauze (saline would be ideal for wetting the cloth), place it in a watertight bag and place the bag on ice. Then be sure to bring the bag and ice to the emergency room. As for the wound on the hand or body, apply ice to reduce swelling and cover it with a clean, dry cloth.

2. Knocked-out tooth

Don't scrub the tooth hard even if it's dirty (a gentle rinse is OK)

Do put the tooth in milk and go straight to the ER; there's a chance the tooth could be reimplanted.

3. Burns

Don't apply ice or butter or any other type of grease to burns. Also, don't cover a burn with a towel or blanket, because loose fibers might stick to the skin. When dealing with a serious burn, be careful not to break any blisters or pull off clothing stuck to the skin.

Do wash and apply antibiotic ointment to mild burns. Head to the hospital for any burns to the eyes, mouth, or genital areas, even if mild; any burn that covers an area larger than your hand; and any burn that causes blisters or is followed by a fever.

4. Electrical burns

Don't fail to get medical attention for a jolt of electricity, even if no damage is evident. An electrical burn can cause invisible (and serious) injury deeper inside the body.

Do go to the ER immediately.

5. Sprained ankle

Don't use a heating pad.

Do treat a sprain with ice. Go to the ER if it is very painful to bear weight; you might have a fracture.

6. Nosebleed

Don't lean back. And after the bleeding has stopped, don't blow your nose or bend over.

Do sit upright and lean forward and pinch your nose steadily (just below the nasal bone) for five to 10 minutes. If the bleeding persists for 15 minutes (or if you think you are swallowing a lot of blood) go to the ER.

7. Bleeding

Don't use tourniquets! You could cause permanent tissue damage.

Do apply steady pressure to the wound with a clean towel or gauze pack and wrap the wound securely. Go to the ER if the bleeding doesn't stop, or if the wound is gaping or caused by an animal bite. To help prevent shock, keep the victim warm.

8. Ingestion of poison

Don't induce vomiting or use Ipecac syrup (unless instructed to do so by emergency personnel).

Do call poison control, and bring the ingested substance with its container to the ER.

9. Being impaled

Don't remove the object; you could cause further damage or increase the risk of bleeding.

Do stabilize the object, if possible, and go to the ER.

10. Seizures

Don't put anything in the victim's mouth.

Do lay the victim on the ground if possible in an open space and roll the victim onto his or her side. Call 911.

You should also call 911 whenever you see or experience chest pain, fainting, confusion, uncontrollable bleeding or shortness of breath.

Dr. Mercola's Comments:

Treating acute medical emergencies is where the conventional medical model really shines, and we should all be thankful for having access to these resources that can help put us back together when we encounter serious accidents. However, knowing what to do in an emergency, while waiting for an ambulance or prior to going to the hospital, is important, so this is a welcome reminder.

But there are many instances where you don’t need to go to the ER after administering first aid. Minor accidents do happen, sometimes frequently if you have children, and many end up going to the emergency room needlessly.

Here are several tips and tricks for treating common wounds at home that might spare you a time-consuming and expensive trip to the ER.

To Suture or Not to Suture?

How many of you have cut your finger with a knife while preparing a meal, or had a child fall off a bike, ending up with a cut knee? Most, if not all, I’m sure.

A common question is whether or not you might need stitches.

Suturing is the most popular method of securely closing wounds, although it has many disadvantages: sutures require

  • The use of needles to inject painful anesthetics,
  • Are time consuming,
  • Have the greatest tissue reactivity of any wound closure device,
  • Are costly, and
  • Are inconvenient for patients.

However, a previous study in the British Medical Journal found that wounds normally repair themselves, regardless of whether wound edges are sewn together. Most doctors have seen wounds that were not sutured and healed normally.

That study provides firm reassurance that as long as the bleeding is well controlled, the wound is less than an inch or so long, and no major tendons are cut, it is quite safe to stop the bleeding with an appropriate band-aid, forgoing a trip to the ER, after cleaning the wound with soap and water, and irrigating with peroxide.

Just make sure to monitor the wound edges on a daily basis. If you see a red ring around the wound that starts to spread more than a ¼ to a ½ inch, have it evaluated by a health care professional, as the wound may be developing an infection.

You can also try using one of the recommendations below, before or at the earliest sign of infection.

QuikClot to Stop Bleeding

QuikClot is a great first-aid invention you might want to keep on hand to stop profuse bleeding. It’s made from the mineral zeolite, and works by absorbing water from your blood. When the product, which resembles cat litter, is sprinkled on a wound, it speeds up the formation of a clot.

The U.S. Marines Corps have even added it to their first-aid kits to help prevent soldiers from bleeding to death. Researchers who tested QuikClot found that wounds that would have been fatal were converted into nonfatal wounds 100 percent of the time.

QuikClot can be found in various shops selling recreational equipment, as well as medical supply stores.

Krazy Glue to Close a Wound

Many already know that Krazy Glue has more than one use. It can also be used as an effective wound closure on skin that does not receive much tension or stress.

Unfortunately, it doesn't work very well in the hand area for most wounds, but it can provide incredible plastic surgery type healing on many facial wounds if done properly.

Great Burn- and Wound Dressings

One of my favorite wound dressings that offers impressive results without drugs is Duoderm, which can be found in Walgreens and various medical supply stores. It’s particularly useful for burns; it can relieve the pain from burns almost instantly.

HemCon’s bandages, made from a natural protein found in shrimp shells that promotes clotting are also a great alternative, and can be found online.

Honey and Insulin to Heal a Wound

Honey has long been known to have an antimicrobial effect against many bacteria and fungi, and can speed wound healing. A 1992 study, for example, found that honey sped up the healing of caesarean sections. Another study found that honey cured the intractable wounds of 59 patients, and it’s been known to help heal everything from ulcers to sunburn.

One thing to remember though is that not all honey is appropriate for use in wound care.

Manuka honey, which has been FDA approved for use as a medical device is believed to have special anti-infection and anti-inflammatory properties. If you're considering using honey to treat a mild burn, sunburn, or small wound at home, make sure to use either Manuka or raw honey.

Any time you can treat yourself without resorting to antibiotics, the better, and honey has several functions that add to its topical wound-care benefits:

  • It draws fluid away from the wound.
  • The high sugar content suppresses microorganism growth.
  • Worker bees secrete an enzyme (glucose oxidase) into the nectar, which then releases low levels of hydrogen peroxide when the honey makes contact with the wound.
  • A chemical reaction between the honey and tissue also makes healing wounds smell good.

Insulin also has wound healing benefits.

This hormone, generally known for regulating your blood sugar levels, can also speed up the healing process when it is applied directly to your skin.

Insulin stimulates human keratinocytes, cells that regenerate your epidermis after wounding. It also causes microvascular endothelial cells that restore blood flow to migrate into the wounded tissue.

EFT to Stop Pain

The Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) incorporates the acupuncture meridian system as defined in traditional Chinese medicine, and like acupuncture (but without the use of needles), EFT balances the subtle energies flowing throughout your meridian system.

Seasoned users of EFT know that they can "try it on everything" and case studies have shown it to be consistently effective in providing immediate relief for burns, bee stings, muscle- and other athletic injuries, and even halting anaphylactic shock. 

In this story from the EFT Web site, Jessica Gillies, an EFT user from Australia, recounts using EFT to eliminate the pain of a serious burn with great success.

+ Sources and References