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Straight, No Chaser: Trauma Quick (Finger)Tips – Give Me the Finger!

By Jeffrey Sterling, MD November 13, 2018

amputations

What you’re seeing is not a five-finger salute gone bad. It’s an all too often occurrence: amputated fingers. Believe it or not, 90% of finger reattachments are successful, although many end up with decreased motion and sensation. Today’s tips are to tell you how to handle the time between when the amputation occurs and when you get to the hospital. It’s actually pretty important to be meticulous in how you handle the finger prior to reattachment.

  • Wrap the amputated part of the finger in moist, clean gauze. Moist—not wet, not dripping.
  • The gauze should be placed in a sealed plastic bag or sterile container.
  • Take the plastic bag and place in another sealed plastic bag or container, with the second containing ice or cold water. The finger never should touch the ice!

It’s actually more important to support the person than the finger. We can survive without a finger. Fingers are worthless without a live person. To that end, calling an ambulance should be the very first thing you do, and don’t forget to place a clean dressing or the cleanest towel you can over the bleeding part of the hand.

You should be aware that not all amputations are reattached, particularly when a poor outcome is likely. However, don’t make any assumptions. Make the effort to give yourself the best possible chance for the best possible outcome.

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