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Tillman & Associates, Attorneys at Law

How do you triage an amputated fingertip?

Construction work is hard on the hands and fingers, and most workers know that they're at risk of an amputation if they're not careful. That's why many construction workers don't even wear a wedding band at work.They don't want to risk catching it on a piece of moving machinery and end up amputating a fingertip.

However, do you and your co-workers know the right way to respond to a fingertip amputation when it does happen? Follow these steps:

1. Call 911 immediately..

2. Try to locate the amputated piece as quickly as possible.

3. Do not put it on ice. This is a common misconception about how to handle an amputation. Ice will destroy fragile nerves and skin tissue, making reattachment harder (if not impossible).

4. Instead, try to rinse off the amputated piece (with sterile water, if possible),

5. Wet a clean paper towel, gauze, tissue or cloth and wrap the amputated piece as carefully as possible.

6. Place the wrapped piece in a watertight plastic bag. If you have ice, you can then put the wrapped and bagged amputated piece on the ice to help preserve it for reattachment.

7. Have the injured worker bend his or her arm at the elbow so that the injured hand is raised. This will minimize bleeding.

8. If you have clean water, wash the injured finger.

9. Wrap it with a clean cloth, towel or gauze and have someone lightly compress the wound. This will also reduce bleeding.

10. Make certain that the amputated fingertip goes to the hospital with the injured worker.

Fingertips help you support and balance the items that you hold, while your nail protects your fingertip and functions as a tool. The pad on your fingertip sends tactile information to your brain and helps control fine motor activity. All of these things make fingertips incredibly important parts of your body, especially if you work with your hands in any way.

That's why the loss of one or more of your fingertips in an on-the-job accident can result not just in disfigurement but also significant, long-term disability. If you're having difficulty coming to a fair settlement with workers' compensation after a construction accident that cost you one or more fingertips, consider talking to an attorney today.

Source: OrthoInfo, "Fingertip Injuries and Amputations," accessed May 30, 2017

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