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Dr. Andrew Rynne
Dr. Andrew Rynne

Family Physician

Exp 50 years

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Article Home First Aid and Emergency Emergency Care for an Accidental Amputation

Emergency Care for an Accidental Amputation

Amputation is the removal of a body part. This can be done because of diabetes complications. However, amputation may also happen during an accident. An amputation may be complete (the body part is completely removed) or partial (much of the body part is removed but it remains attached to the rest of the body).


What to do in an accidental amputation?

Call health professional or emergency services immediately.

How to arrest bleeding?

  • A complete amputation may not bleed very much.
  • If available, wash your hands with soap and water and put on latex gloves. If gloves are not available, use many layers of clean cloth, plastic bags, or the cleanest material available between your hands and the wound.
  • Make the injured person lie down and elevate the site that is bleeding.
  • Remove any visible objects or foreign body in the wound that are easy to remove, and remove or cut clothing from around the wound.
  • Apply steady direct full pressure for 15 minutes. If blood soaks through the cloth, apply another one without lifting the first.
  • You may apply direct pressure to the wound up to three times for 15 minutes each (45 minutes total).

Identify and treat shock

The trauma can cause severe blood loss can cause the person to go into physiologic shock.

Clinical features of physiologic shock include:

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Cold clammy skin
  • Chest pain
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Feeling very weak or having trouble standing up
  • The person is unable to respond to questions, or the patient is may be confused, restless, or fearful.

Emotional stress and tension from the event may cause symptoms such as dizziness, lightheadedness or fainting.

This is sometimes called emotional shock; emotional stress may be confused with physiologic shock.

Care of the completely amputated body part

  • Try to recover the amputated body part, if possible, and transport it to the hospital with the injured person.
  • If the amputated part cannot be found right away, transport the injured person to the hospital and bring the amputated part to the hospital when it is found.
  • Gently rinse off dirt and debris with clean water and wrap the amputated part in a dry, sterile gauze or clean cloth.
  • Place the amputated part in plastic bag or waterproof container
  • Place the plastic bag or waterproof container on ice. The goal is to keep the amputated part cool but not to cause more damage from the cold ice.
  • Do not cover the part with ice or put it directly into ice water.

Care for the part of the body where the amputation happened

  • Stop or arrest the bleeding
  • Elevation of the injured part
  • Wrap the injured area with a sterile dressing or clean cloth until medical treatment is received.

Care for partially amputated body part

  • Elevate the injured area.
  • Wrap the injured area with a sterile dressing or clean cloth and apply pressure if the injured area is bleeding.
  • Gently splint the injured area to prevent further damage.