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Tourniquet use in the prehospital setting: Are they being used appropriately?

Kevin M Duignan, Laura C Lamb, Monica M DiFiori, John Quinlavin, James M Feeney
American Journal of Disaster Medicine 2018, 13 (1): 37-43

OBJECTIVE: The objective of this study was to evaluate tourniquet use in the Hartford prehospital setting during a 34-month period after the Hartford Consensus was published, which encouraged increasing tourniquet use in light of military research.

DESIGN: This was a retrospective review of patients with bleeding from a serious extremity injury to determine appropriateness of tourniquet use or omission.

SETTING: Level II trauma center between April 2014 and January 2017.

PARTICIPANTS: Eighty-four patients met inclusion criteria and were stratified based on tourniquet use during prehospital care.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Five of the 84 patients received a tourniquet. All five of those tourniquets (100 percent of the group, 6.0 percent of the population) were not indicated and deemed inappropriate. Three of the 84 patients did not receive a tourniquet when one was indicated (3.8 percent of the group, 3.6 percent of the population) and these omissions were also deemed inappropriate. Total error rate was 9.5 percent (8/84).

RESULTS: There was a significant association between Mangled Extremity Severity Score (MESS) and likelihood of requiring a tourniquet (p = 0.0013) but not between MESS and likelihood of receiving a tourniquet (p = 0.1055). There was also a significant association between wrongly placed tourniquets and the type of providers who placed them [first responders, p = 0.0029; Emergency Medicine Technicians (EMTs), p = 0.0001].

CONCLUSIONS: Tourniquets are being used inappropriately in the Hartford prehospital setting. Misuse is associated with both EMTs and first responders, highlighting the need for better training and more consistent protocols.


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