Open wounds are skin openings or breakage that can lead to bleeding or loss of blood. It can be classified and treated according to the layers of the skin involved. Severe blood loss can lead to shock, amputation, infection or possibly, death.2
HOW IT IS SUSTAINED
In a typical car accident or semi-truck accident, parts of the vehicle, such as broken glass or plastic shards, can puncture the skin and lead to bleeding. Victims of motorcycle accidents are more prone to open wounds than other accident victims due to the limited protection of a typical motorcycle rider. (This is an extremely important reason why drivers must pay close attention to their surroundings to avoid injuring fellow motorists) Pedestrian accident victims are also prone to open wounds. Furthermore, in recent studies, the upper extremities are more prone for open wounds than the lower extremities.1
According to the World Health Organization (2002), open wounds usually comprise 10% of all vehicular injuries and ranks in the top 2. Its incidence is 35.6 per 100,000 people worldwide.
Open wounds can be easily seen depending on its size and area involved. It is always accompanied with pain on and around the affected area, unless the person has neurological problems masking symptoms. Confusion or panic, pale and clammy skin, lightheadedness, low blood pressure, rapid pulse, shortness of breath and generalized weakness are also common accompanying symptoms in severe bleeding.3
Common first aid procedures can be done when the open wound is only a minor cut or superficial wound. Here are the following steps2:
- First and foremost, the person must be calmed down and reassured as much as possible. Some people have homophobia or fear of blood. Panic might cause further injury. Identify and locate all the affected areas of injuries caused by the vehicular accident.
- Wash the affected and surrounded area with soap and running warm water. The surrounding areas must be pat dry. This will reduce infection. Removal of loose debris or dirt can also be done.
- Laying the person down can calm and reduce the chances of fainting. This position increases blood flow to the brain.
- If bleeding still occurs, apply direct pressure using a sterile bandage, clean cloth or any piece of clothing. When the eyes are affected, never apply direct pressure as it may cause further damage. The hands can be used if the stated beforehand are not available.
- If the bleeding seeped through the material applied directly for pressure on the wound, do not remove the material but instead, just place an additional layer or more over the first material. It is done to prevent more blood loss and exposure to infection.
Medical consult is advised if embedded objects are suspected in the wound since their removal can cause more damage or lead to excessive bleeding. If the bleeding cannot be controlled, the person must be taken to the hospital immediately. Antibacterial ointment can be applied on the wound, but antibiotics must be prescribed to prevent infection. 1 Application of tourniquet must also be done by a medical professional unless the need is immediate.
When driving, traffic regulations must be obeyed all the time.5 Use of the seatbelt can reduce the risk of open wounds.1 An anti-tetanus vaccine can also prevent serious infections in open wounds or lacerations.3
If you or a loved one sustains an open wound in a Missouri car accident, truck accident, or other Missouri or St. Louis personal injury, contact a Mo personal injury lawyer immediately to discuss your case. Call injury lawyer Chris Dixon today at 314.409.7060, or toll-free at 855-402-7274.
1 Shakeri AB, Tubbs RS, Shoja MM. The most common anatomical sites of arterial injury in the extremities: a review of 75 angiographically-proven cases. Folia Morphol. 2006. Vol. 65, No. 2, pp. 116–120
2 Fauci, et. al. Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine. The McGraw-Hill Companies. 17th edition. 2008. USA. Chapter 119. Infections of the Skin, Muscle, and Soft Tissues
2 MedLine Plus. Cuts and puncture wounds. Last accessed November 2011. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000043.htm
4 MedLine Plus. Bleeding. Last accessed November 2011. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000045.htm
5 World Health Organization. World Report on Road Traffic Injury Prevention. Geneva. 2004. http://whqlibdoc.who.int/publications/2004/9241562609.pd