Sunday, December 28, 2008

And the problem is...?

I read with great interest the US Army's decision to NOT let it's medics use clot-inducing materials like Woundstat.

I'm actually quite stunned by the decision. And worried, because if what I want to happen actually happens, Woundstat would be one of the things I carry in my pack.

Woundstat is supposed to be used AS A LAST RESORT to stop your patient bleeding out on you in the field. It's supposed to buy you some evac time, to give you a chance to get your patient to a treatment facility or other controlled environment. It is SUPPOSED to create a clot to reduce blood loss. That's it's function.

So, why has the Army quit using it for now?

Because it creates clots. "Dangerous clots". By that I'm guessing they mean emboli.

Here's the thing: no emboli have been seen in human studies. Nope, they've only figured out that this CAN cause emboli in animal studies.

As far as I know, a live patient with the potential to throw an emboli is better than a dead one, 'cause dead is dead is dead. Hospitals - field hospitals, even - have the ability to mitigate an emboli in a LIVE patient, which could ultimately mean that said patient gets to go home instead of dying in some strange land, separated from his family and everyone he loves.

68W's don't go around randomly tossing Woundstat on paper cuts, people. If direct pressure doesn't work or you can't use a torniquet, if the vessel is too damaged for you to clamp it without doing MORE damage than good, if your patient is pissing blood at an alarming rate and your evac is still a few minutes out and you fear that they will expire before you can get them out of the situation because they are bleeding to death....THAT is when you use Woundstat. You inform the receiving facility of your treatment in the field so they can be aware of potential problems (such as emboli) and you get your soldiers to relative safety ALIVE any way you can.

Hopefully the Army will realize the potential to save lives with this product far outweighs the risks of side effects and will re-instate it. I know that I'd like to have some in my kit for a last resort scenario.

(Kudos to my 68W mentor who has talked at length with me about the career field and the techniques used in it. They wish to remain anonymous, or else I'd be giving them mad props!)

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