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What to do if someone cuts their finger off

Finger Amputation. What to do, important steps to help control bleeding and preserve the amputated part

Sadly it is not uncommon for people to accidentally amputate the tips of their fingers. However, fortunately, with the right first aid treatment, these amputated digits can often be successfully re-attached.

What can cause an amputation?

Amputations are common injuries. For instance, anything with a hinge can cause an amputation. They can occur when you catch your finger in a slamming door, or from sharp knives, mandolins, catching artificial nails on something or when people are undertaking DIY.

If part of a finger suffers an amputation, the immediate priority is to look after the casualty. Firstly, sit them down and reassure them. After that, swiftly grab a non-fluffy cloth and use this to apply direct pressure to the stump in order to stop the bleeding. Elevate the injured hand whilst continuing to apply pressure. Do not worry about the amputated part at the moment. First control the bleeding and ensure the casualty feels calmer.

Once you have controlled the bleeding wound, you can turn your attention to the amputated part.

Pick up the finger, do not wash it. Wrap it in a non-fluffy cloth, put this in a plastic bag and then put it onto an ice pack. Importantly, do not let the ice come directly into contact with the amputated part as it will cause ice burns and could consequently mean that it will be impossible for surgeons to reattach their finger. Humans are meat and you are aiming to chill the amputated part to preserve it.  Transport the casualty along with their amputated finger to hospital. You do not necessarily need an ambulance for this.

If the finger is still partly attached with a blood supply, bandage the severed part carefully in situ, not too tightly, then support and elevate the hand and call an ambulance.

Crushed or bruised fingers

It is even more common for people to crush or bruise their fingers. Therefore, if someone injures their fingers, but there is no amputation, the following steps can help. Immediately, run the damaged area under cool running water for 10 minutes, then apply a wrapped ice pack.  Elevate the injured hand and seek medical advice.

First Aid for Life cover bleeding on all their practical and online courses.

Emma Hammett
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