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Ten Common First Aid Mistakes

Discussion in 'Emergency Medicine' started by Egyptian Doctor, May 3, 2013.

  1. Egyptian Doctor

    Egyptian Doctor Moderator Verified Doctor

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    Myth: Soothe a burn by applying butter.
    Reality: If you apply butter or an oily substance to a serious burn, you could make it difficult for a doctor to treat the burn later and increase risk of infection.
    The right approach: Treat a burn with cool water. If a burn is severe and starts to blister, make sure to see a doctor. Keep the affected area clean and loosely covered with a dry, sterile dressing.


    Myth: If a child swallows a poisonous substance, induce vomiting with syrup of ipecac.
    Reality: Inducing vomiting is not recommended for certain poisonous substances and may be harmful.
    The right approach: Never give anything to eat or drink unless directed to by the Poison Control Center or a medical professional. If an accidental poisoning occurs, immediately call the Poison Control Center or your doctor for advice.


    Myth:
    The best way to treat a bleeding extremity is by applying a tourniquet.
    Reality: Tourniquets stop the flow of blood, which could cause permanent damage to a limb. They should be used only as a last resort in the case of severe bleeding.
    The right approach: Pad the wound with layers of sterile gauze or cloth, apply direct pressure and wrap the wound securely. Seek medical help if the bleeding doesn't stop or if the wound is gaping, dirty or caused by an animal bite.


    Myth:
    Apply heat to a sprain, strain or fracture.
    Reality: Heat actually increases swelling and can keep the injury from healing as quickly as it could.
    The right approach: Apply ice to reduce swelling for about 20 minutes. Place a thin barrier between the ice and the bare skin.


    Myth:
    You should move someone injured in a car accident away from the scene.
    Reality: A person with a spinal-cord injury won't necessarily appear badly injured, but any movement could lead to paralysis or death.
    The right approach: Move an injured victim only if
    The scene becomes unsafe (the vehicle is threatened by fire or another serious hazard)
    You have to reach another victim who may have a more serious injury or illness.
    You need to provide proper care (CPR needs to be performed on a firm, flat surface.
    Otherwise, it's best to stabilize the victim, and leave the person in place until paramedics arrive.


    Myth:
    Rub your eye when you get a foreign substance in it. Tears will wash the substance out.
    Reality: Rubbing could cause a serious scratch or abrasion to the eye.
    The right approach: Rinse the eye with tap water.


    Myth:
    Use hot water to thaw a cold extremity.
    Reality: Avoid any extreme temperature change- hot water can cause further damage.
    The right approach: Gradually warm the extremity by soaking it in lukewarm water.


    Myth:
    To reduce a fever, sponge rubbing alcohol on the skin.
    Reality: Alcohol can be absorbed by the skin, which can cause alcohol poisoning, especially in young children.
    The right approach: Lower a fever by taking ibuprofen. If a high fever continues for several days, see a physician or go to a hospital emergency room for treatment.


    Myth:
    Allergic reactions to bee stings can be treated at home.
    Reality: Delaying professional treatment to a respiratory allergic reaction to a bee sting could be fatal.
    The right approach: For symptoms such as breathing problems, tight throat or swollen tongue, call an ambulance immediately.


    Myth:
    If you get a cut or scrape, apply first-aid ointment, cover it with a bandage, and leave it untended to heal for a few days.
    Reality: Exposure to fresh air is the quickest way to allow wounds to heal, and thus it is generally best not to apply creams or ointments, since they keep the wound moist. Bandages should also be changed to keep the wound clean.
    The right approach: The first and best thing to do with a wound is wash it with soap and cool water. All dressings should be changed twice a day. At bedtime, the bandage should be replaced with a looser dressing so air can circulate around the wound. Upon waking, a slightly tighter bandage should be applied, but not so tight that it cuts off circulation. Bandages should be changed even if it means pulling off a part of a scab that's forming, experts say. Also, try to keep the wounded area dry.

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