Bleeding is often a medical emergency, and prompt steps to stop it are essential. It is essential that bleeding be checked as soon as possible. A patient with heavy blood loss can rapidly deteriorate and die if blood loss is not stopped or prompt replacement given.
With lacerations and injuries on the limbs and body, it is surprising how rapidly these may be brought under control with simple, forceful pressure. In larger hemorrhaging, for example, in a major injury to a limb, the bleeding might be spurting and excessive. Nevertheless, the same principles apply. But it is even more urgent to get these patients to an emergency centre.
Laying the patient down, preferably with the injured part elevated, often helps to reduce the loss of blood, as gravity helps to check it.
The body immediately reacts to blood loss by increasing the rate of the heartbeat in an effort to maintain circulation to the vital structures, especially the heart and brain. That is why the pulse rate increases rapidly. However, with increasingly reduced amounts of blood in the circulation, the amount pumped out with each heartbeat decreases.
The nerves reflexly cause constriction at the periphery to conserve blood loss, so the skin becomes pale, clammy and cold. With less oxygen to the higher centers, the brain does not work as efficiently, so fainting, vagueness and collapse or even coma may ensue.
It is always worth remembering that the patient is suffering mentally from the accident, as well as from loss of blood. The patient wants to be reassured, not scared to death. So make sure you speak words of comfort, encouragement and confidence. Say that everything is going all right, that he or she will soon be feeling better, and that things are under control.
Speak with confidence and authority, but in a pleasant, reassuring, relaxed manner. This will be a positive psychological help. Do not recall from your knowledge of past tragedies gory incidents and the disasters that befell other victims.
- Bleeding externally is usually obvious from a cut or abrasion.
- Bleeding may be coming from a head orifice, such as the ear, mouth or nose. It may be vomited or passed rectally.
- Internal hemorrhage may not be recognized, as the blood is retained. The patient may show signs that include a weak, rapid pulse, cold, pale, clammy, skin, rapid and increasingly deep breathing, often with yawning.
- Patient may express thirst.
- Patient may be unconscious.
- Do not panic. Act promptly for the quicker you check the bleeding, the less risk there is to the patient. Keep calm, cool and collected. If you can’t, get immediate aid from someone who can.
- Apply direct pressure to the site of bleeding, pressure usually stops most bleeding. This may be done using a clean handkerchief, piece of folded material, or anything available that is suitable.
- Bandage firmly with a wide crepe bandage. Untie to apply pressure from the outside.
- Elevate the part and rest the patient. Speak reassuringly and not use words of alarm, which frighten and aggravate.
- Arrange transport to medical centre as quickly as possible, particularly if bleeding is profuse or from an internal source.