Catastrophic Haemorrhage

Catastrophic Haemorrhage has become a popular phrase on almost all first Aid courses in the years since military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan where battlefield protocols have been used with huge success to manage similar injuries in civilian environments.

The problem is that the term Catastrophic Haemorrage is widely used but rarely, and inconsistently defined.

  • “A life threatening bleed”
  • “Arterial bleeding”
  • “Bleeding you can hear”
  • “A squiring / spurting bleed”
  • “A non-compressible bleed”
  • ”The loss of a patient’s total body volume in less than 24 hours”
  • “A major hemorrhage, from an artery, which is likely to result in death within a period of time that may be as short as minutes, because of the rapid internal or external loss of circulating blood volume.”

Catastrophic Haemorrhage is arterial / bright red / spurting.

Sometimes. Arterial bleeding can be Catastrophic, but not always. The following video shows a small injury to the foot. The bleeding is clearly arterial (bright red and pulsatile) but is it catastrophic? The volume of blood being lost is not significant; we can lose nearly a pint of blood when we donate and the treatment is a cup of tea and a biscuit. It would take a long time to lose a pint of blood from this injury so it is not immediately life threatening. The arterial bleed is also not under much pressure so It could easily be controlled by direct pressure

MCP First Aid Training is a professional training company approved to deliver the haemorrhage control course.

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