The Case Against QuikClot
QuikClot, the product, seems almost too good to be true. Even the slowest prepper on earth can stop a deep wound gushing with blood by simply opening a packet of QuikClot an slapping it into place. Who wouldn’t want this miraculous product in their first-aid kit?
Well, doctors and nurses, for one! As it turns out, QuikClot can cause more harm than good, sometimes, and makes life more difficult for the medical professionals who have to deal with the injured patient.
Here is what two professionals told me about this product.
First, from Courtney, an E.R. nurse:
Next, I asked James Hubbard, The Survival Doctor, for his opinion, and here is his response:
“First there’s the mess that comes with QuikClot.
My experience has been seeing fairly minor wounds treated with QuikClot. If the patient has used the older version of the product, I have to clean and scrub, and still I’m not certain I’ve gotten all the granules out. When this has happened, I can’t help but think that if they had simply applied direct pressure on the wound, I wouldn’t be forced to traumatize the fragile tissue so much more. I understand this is a complaint with emergency-room physicians and trauma surgeons also, except the wounds they see can be much worse, and time can be precious.
Prior to 2008, QuikClot also produced a lot of heat when it reacted with blood, and this can be very painful—even burn flesh. If a granule flew into an eye, ouch!
The more recent version uses a chemical that doesn’t cause as much of a burn reaction, although it can still get hot when it comes in contact with plain water. They’ve also encased it in gauze. Hallelujah!”
QuikClot isn’t a cure-all
He goes on, “But my main concern about QuikClot is that some people think it’s a cure-all.
Certainly it can be a lifesaver in battles, where the wounds are large and potential blood loss is severe. It stops the bleeding long enough for these injured victims to get to surgical care. But the key is getting them the surgical care.
Lay people tend to use QuikClot first-line for every wound. They forget the basics, like direct pressure. If anyone pulls off the QuikClot to actually treat the wound, the clot comes with it, and you’re back to stage one unless there are granules, and then the situation has been made worse.
Remember, QuikClot does nothing to repair the wound. You put this stuff in, and that’s only the beginning. You can’t keep it in forever. It will stop working at some point, and because it’s a foreign body, it will increase the risk for a bad infection. When it’s removed, the bleeding begins anew.
A wound often includes an artery that supplies vital blood to an extremity. If the artery is not surgically repaired fairly quickly, the extremity will die. Gangrene will set in. The QuikClot may have been a lifesaver, but only short-term.
The bottom line is QuikClot in your bug-out-bag is not enough. You need to know when and how to use it. Start by learning how to stop bleeding with direct pressure. Know your pulse points in the arms and legs, and how you can press on them to stop the bleeding. Know how to use a tourniquet for extreme injuries.
Then, watch a few instructional videos on how to properly use QuikClot.”
When would QuikClot be an acceptable remedy?
The Survival Doctor continues, “Okay, I’d use QuikClot in a flash if blood were pouring, and direct pressure or pressure on pulse points wasn’t going to stop the bleeding, and using QuikClot was the only thing I knew to do to save a life—like if a femoral artery were cut so close to the groin a tourniquet wasn’t feasible. Or if I were facing a gusher on the neck and pressure wasn’t helping. I’d try it on a badly bleeding chest or abdominal wound if I couldn’t do anything else, even though I know if the QuikClot doesn’t come in contact with the bleeding blood vessel, it’s not going to help.
After the bleeding had stopped, I’d apply a pressure dressing on the wound and figure out how I was going to get this person some definitive medical help ASAP.
Oh, and if you have the old granule type of QuikClot, replace it with the new gauze type. Whoever ends up repairing the wound will thank you.”
Only use QuikClot if:
- Direct pressure over several minutes isn’t stopping the bleeding.
- The compress becomes saturated with blood quickly and repeatedly. (A sanitary pad is helpful for these types of injury and provides an idea of the level of injury that would cause several of these pads to be soaked through in a matter of minutes.)
- You are miles and miles from any medical assistance.
The best action to take now is to become better informed and trained in the areas of first aid and medical care. Visit The Survival Doctor’s blog, watch videos on YouTube and locate classes that teach these skills. Someday you might save the life of a friend or loved one.
© 2012, The Survival Mom. All rights reserved.