Some Americans—Washington residents included—are terrified at the sight of blood, but almost everyone has sustained a wound at least once in their life. When you’ve been physically wounded, it helps to know how to prevent further complications like excessive blood loss and infection. The Merck Manual Home Health Handbook offers the following first aid tips for dealing with cuts:
“Visible bleeding can almost always be stopped by firmly compressing the bleeding area with a finger or hand for at least 5 minutes. Whenever possible, the bleeding part is elevated above the level of the heart…
To prevent infection, dirt and particles are removed and the wound is washed. Large, visible particles are picked off. Smaller dirt and particles that cannot be seen are removed by washing with mild soap and tap water. Dirt and particles that remain after washing often can be removed with a more highly pressured stream of warm tap water. Harsher agents, such as alcohol, iodine, and peroxide, are not recommended… Scrubbing is required to clean deep scrapes. If a wound is very small, it can be kept closed with certain commercially available tapes. Stitches may be needed for deep or large cuts…”
As the piece mentions, stitches are sometimes needed to halt the bleeding in deeper wounds. Yet, how do you know if a cut requires stitching or if adhesive bandages will suffice?
The first clue is the bleeding duration. If it continues bleeding even after applying direct pressure for 15 minutes, stitches are called for. You also have to look at the depth and length of the wound—cuts that are 0.25-inch deep and 0.75-inch long will not close on their own. Stitches will also be needed if the cut gapes open, has jagged edges, or is located near a joint (especially if moving the joint stretches the wound further). If it is located on the face, or in often-used areas like the hands and legs, getting medical attention is highly recommended.
Of course, where you get the stitches is an important factor as well. While you can go to a nearby hospital emergency room for treatment, you could encounter long lines and exorbitant hospital bills. (The New York Times reports up to $500 per stitch in some parts of the country). Washington residents are advised to visit a walk-in clinic in Broadway, Everett instead, to save money and to get timely medical attention.
However, facilities like the U.S. HealthWorks Medical Group’s Broadway, Everett urgent care centers remind patients that they can only treat non-life-threatening wounds. Cuts that go down to the bone, fat or muscle will be referred to a hospital for a more comprehensive treatment.
(Source: Wounds, Merck Manual Home Health Handbook)