Here’s What to Do If You Chop Off a Finger
After Lindsay Lohan's close call, an ER doc explains the steps to take if you find yourself in a similar situation, including how to stop the bleeding and pack the detached part on ice.
Lindsay Lohan’s boat trip off the coast of Turkey on Sunday took a terrifying turn when the actress tried to pull up the boat's anchor. According to TMZ, she became tangled in the rope and was yanked into the water; as she tried to free herself and get back on the boat, part of her finger was severed.
Luckily, LiLo's friends found the detached piece of her injured digit, and a surgeon was able to repair the damage, as she later explained on Snapchat.
While Lohan’s accident is a bit out of the ordinary, losing a finger, or part of one, is not so far-fetched—which is why we called ER doc Melisa Lai-Becker, MD, to find out exactly what to do in this horrifying situation.
The first step? Remain calm. (Ha.) “Typically, there’s not as much blood coming out of that area as people think,” says Dr. Lai-Becker, who is chief of the Whidden Hospital Emergency Department in Everett, Massachusetts. "That’s because the tiny arteries in your fingers begin to heal themselves quickly."
Step two: Grab a towel or t-shirt and wrap it around the wound, applying pressure to stop excess bleeding. Then sit down (or help your injured friend take a seat) and dial 911.
As you wait for help to arrive, try to locate the missing part and store it properly for transportation to the hospital, says Dr. Lai-Becker.
You want to wrap a cool, damp towel or rag around detached parts, she explains, to keep them moist. “Then place the wrapped part in a bag or cup of ice.” The part itself should not touch the ice, Dr. Lai-Becker cautions. “Direct contact could cause frostbite or tissue damage."
Once you arrive at the ER, a doctor will likely clean the wound and prescribe any necessary antibiotics to prevent infection. At that point, the experts will decide the best way to repair the damage.