Thursday, October 5, 2006

Tourniquet: Bad advice for a snake bite?

We have learnt that applying a tourniquet is the first step to be taken in case of a snake bite. But here is a different take on it ....

Mike Edwards, 46, was bitten by a timber rattlesnake while working on his farm. The bite was (very) severe... As Edwards and his wife, Andrea, waited for the ambulance to arrive, a good Samaritan tried to help using advice gleaned from Hollywood -- applying a tourniquet.

But a toxicologist who arrived on the scene said the tourniquet just kept all of the venom in one place, and it swelled, which made it harder for the antivenin to get to it. It could have cost his life. Edwards' condition was critical by the time they arrived at the hospital and his blood pressure was dangerously low, his wife said. Mike said he lost vision at one point and was convulsively twitching.

Middle Tennessee Medical Center's Dr Kevin Beier, who specializes in emergency treatment, said venom is used by snakes to break down the tissue of prey to make them easier to digest. "When you trap the venom, it causes tissue damage and necrosis (tissue death)," Beier said. Beier said there are rare circumstances when using a tourniquet would have helped, such as in the cases of the victim going into shock and to slow the spread of the venom.

But Beier said the method of cutting a wound and sucking out the venom is never recommended. "DO NOT DO THIS," he said. "That's been shown not to have been of any benefit and it can increase the effect of infection or damage." Full story

So, what about the first aid we learnt? May be some doctors could comment on this...

1 comment:

  1. intersting & scary. never herad before. but i know people who tied and then recovered from the bite.