[...] Beaty had sawed nearly all the way through his index finger, and he'd entirely cut off the top inch of his middle finger. Before they went out the door to the doctor's office, Beaty and his wife decided to put his fingertip in a Tupperware container with ice.
"That was probably the biggest mistake we made," Beaty says now.
Emergency room physicians say people often don't know what to do with a body part that's become derailed, whether it's a toe, finger, tooth or an eye that's popped out of its socket. Here's some advice:
Fingers and toes: Keep cold, not icy
A nurse at Swedish Medical Center admonished Beaty and his wife when she saw his finger lying in ice.
"This is not how to do it," Beaty's wife, Linda Carlson, recalls the nurse saying. Then, a little more tactfully the nurse added, "You probably don't plan to do this again."
The nurse informed the couple that although they were right to keep the finger cold, direct contact with ice could give the vessels freezer burn and make reattachment difficult.
Here's a better approach.
The first thing you do when a body part becomes detached is control the bleeding. Put direct pressure on the wound and elevate it higher than the heart, advises Dr. Dave Manthey, professor of emergency medicine at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center.
Then rinse off the severed finger or toe (or part thereof).
"You are trying to decrease the bacteria," Manthey explains. "But don't scrub it. If you scrub, you're causing blunt force damage."
Now get a clean cloth or piece of sterile gauze, dampen it with cold water and wrap the finger or toe in it. Then put the wrapped appendage into a plastic bag and put the bag in cold (preferably iced) water.
Finally, notes Manthey, keep the body part with you. For example, don't give it to a spouse, who might end up getting separated from you on the way to the hospital.
Despite the mistake with the ice, surgeons did manage to reattach Beaty's finger, and he now has full use of it, although he's lost some sensation, and it's shorter than his other middle finger.
Thursday, September 16, 2010
What to do when body parts fall off.
Weird but interesting article from CNN. Also includes tips like "don't push your eyeballs back in" and "suck off the dirt" from fallen teeth.