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Tourniquet use in the civilian prehospital setting
  1. C Lee1,
  2. K M Porter1,
  3. T J Hodgetts2
  1. 1Academic Department of Traumatology, West Midlands, UK
  2. 2Academic Department of Military Emergency Medicine, Royal Centre for Defence Medicine, Birmingham, UK
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr Caroline Lee
 Academic Department of Traumatology, Room 28, Institute of Research & Development, Birmingham Research Park, Vincent Drive, Birmingham, B15 2SQ, UK; drcarolinelee{at}


Tourniquets are an effective means of arresting life-threatening external haemorrhage from limb injury. Their use has not previously been accepted practice for pre-hospital civilian trauma care because of significant concerns regarding the potential complications. However, in a few rare situations tourniquet application will be necessary and life-saving. This review explores the potential problems and mistrust of tourniquet use; explains the reasons why civilian pre-hospital tourniquet use may be necessary; defines the clear indications for tourniquet use in external haemorrhage control; and provides practical information on tourniquet application and removal. Practitioners need to familiarise themselves with commercial pre-hospital tourniquets and be prepared to use one without irrational fear of complications in the appropriate cases.

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  • Competing interests: None declared