Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Plugging holes with tampons, good or bad?

I recently posted a pic on the BRD media channels of our corpsman's chestrig while on patrol along the US/MEX border this past weekend. In his rig he had two Tampax tampons, always food for quality jokes, but as someone stated, "Yeah everyone laughs, till it's sticking out your shoulder" - Nathan_I.

But is it effective in preventing blood loss and should it be a part of one's kit/IFAK (Individual First Aid Kit) or is it a myth that should be quashed?

I reached out to Jon Wayne Taylor and asked his input on the subject. Following is what he emailed me and definitely jump over to TTAG to read the two articles he wrote regarding the subject:

"Tampons are ok for blood loss, but they have some pretty significant limitations.

They are not very big and their shape is inflexible. They just don't have a whole lot of surface area to them and they can't be made to fit the wound. I know we all think about "plugging the hole" for wound care, but it's important to remember that it's not a hole, it's a (likely irregular) channel. And the size and shape of most tampons just doesn't allow you much flexibility to put pressure on the entire bleeding surface. And pressure is what it's all about.

Again, they are better than table napkins and a torn shirt, but there are much better options available.

The gold standard for the treatment of penetrating trauma, in my experience treating hundreds of penetrating traumas, is Quick Clot Combat Gauze.

I think everyone should have at least one roll. It is, however, expensive.

The next best thing is cheap and easy to find. Simple Kerlix Gauze works great as long as you remember that pressure is what it's all about. It is pretty bulky though. The NAR Compressed Gauze works just as well, and is much easier to pack.

Be aware, even if you do buy the Quick Clot Combat Gauze, you will most likely need to follow it with simple gauze, like Kerlix or the NAR gauze.

I wrote a couple of articles about treating traumatic injuries for thetruthaboutguns.com They include where to buy the products I recommend. They are posted here:

1) http://www.thetruthaboutguns.com/2015/07/jon-wayne-taylor/combat-medic-the-work-really-starts-once-youre-shot/

2) http://www.thetruthaboutguns.com/2015/07/jon-wayne-taylor/combat-medic-what-to-do-if-someone-else-is-shot/ "

Therefore, if tampons are the only thing available in a critical situation, then use them, however, considering there are many alternatives that are far superior and that are readily available, your IFAK should include the aforementioned products and not tampons.

In the second article listed above, JWT had some excellent parting advice:

"Good medical gear really helps, but most kits have more things than you will need or know how to use. If you are on the range with other people, or you can throw a bag in your home or vehicle, I would recommend at least the following to treat others:

At least 4 tourniquets

At least 4 sets of Quick Clot Gauze, and at least 6 rolls of Kerlix.

At least 4 chest seals.

At least 3 Sam Splints

And buy more medical tape than you ever thought you would need and a flashlight that you don’t have to hold down a button to keep on. That’s the minimum. Put it in any easy-to-get to bag. I prefer everything in clear zip lock bags and put it all in one big compartment.

As I wrote before, for those of you who want to get into more medical training and would like a good guidebook, the Ranger Medic Handbook is the best single guide I’ve ever seen.

For more in-depth reading, I would recommend the US Army’s Emergency War Surgery, now published completely online as well as my constant field companion, Tintinalli’s Emergency Medicine Manual."

Jon Wayne Taylor is a veteran, Army medic, and a proud Texas son.