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When the Stab Wound Isn’t the Worst Problem: Quick Help for Tension Pneumo

When treating a tension pneumothorax, place the needle and catheter above the third rib, about 2 inches from the edge of the breastbone. (Click illustration to enlarge.) by James Hubbard, MD, MPH In my “What to Do for a Collapsed Lung” post, I promised future information on what to do for one of a collapsed lung’s most dangerous variants, a tension pneumothorax. So here it is. This post covers an advanced procedure, but the procedure can save a life. If medical personnel aren’t able to get to the victim, you’ll likely be the only one around who’s even heard of this technique. So stay with me … […]

By | September 16th, 2014|Cuts, Skin|9 Comments

Day After Disaster: 4 Scenarios to Test Your Basic Survival Medicine Skills

by James Hubbard, MD, MPH I thought I’d have a little fun today and walk you through what to do in some scenarios to test your basic survival medicine skills. […]

By | August 18th, 2014|Cold, Critters, Other Wounds|22 Comments

Thick Toenails: 5 Causes and a Bunch of Treatments

Sometimes you just have to live with thick toenails—and get some strong clippers.* by James Hubbard, MD, MPH Several of my Facebook fans have asked what to do for their thick toenails. And to tell the truth, it’s not a trivial question. Thick toenails can be the starting point for bad bruises, infections, even gangrene. In a disaster situation, these problems could become more likely if you have to do a lot of walking or even just standing. If your shoes press on the toenail, the toe can become quite bruised. Then, if your toes swell from the bruising, the shoes will be tighter on them, causing a dangerous cycle, even to the point of killing some of the tissue under the nail. So it’s best to treat thick toenails before a disaster rather than during. […]

By | March 3rd, 2014|Skin|39 Comments

The Top-8 Medical Uses for Vodka

Previously the top-7 medical uses! by James Hubbard, MD, MPH Thursday, the U.S. government banned liquids, including gels, in carry-ons to Russia. That means hand sanitizers. That means hand sanitizers that reporters and visitors on their way to Sochi for the Olympics probably packed because of tales of contaminated water. What to do? Even if you didn’t put sanitizer in your checked bag and Russia’s all sold out when you get there, remember, this country just so happens to be famous for … its vodka. Vodka is about 40 percent alcohol. Alcohol kills germs. So in a pinch, vodka = medical supply. […]

By | February 10th, 2014|Cuts, Infectious Disease, Skin|24 Comments

4 Ways to Sterilize Your Medical Instruments [Book Excerpt]

by James Hubbard, MD, MPH For this month’s posts, I’ve chosen some excerpts from my new book, Living Ready Pocket Manual: First Aid, that I think will especially interest my regular blog readers. If you’ve already bought the book, I’d be interested to hear what you think of these sections. First up: Here at the blog, I’ve gone into a good bit of detail about treating wounds, but have you ever wondered when you need to sterilize the instruments and dressings you use? […]

By | January 13th, 2014|Cuts, Other Wounds, Skin|6 Comments

How Dangerous Is Tetanus Really? 10 FAQs

by James Hubbard, MD, MPH Over the years I’ve given my share of tetanus shots. And over the years, I’ve noticed that while most people know they need one on occasion, they’re just not sure when or, in fact, what the shot really prevents. I thought I’d provide my take and answer a few FAQs. […]

On the Scene: How to Help Victims Survive a Mass Shooting

A SWAT team member prepares. Even in normal circumstances, help may not be able to get to you quickly after a mass shooting. Safety must be established first. You may be able to help people survive in the meantime. by James Hubbard, MD, MPH Today, I’d like to address some tragedies that have been the news recently: the Navy Yard, Chicago park and Kenya mall shootings. I won’t get into the causes or preventions of mass shootings. That’s not my expertise. Your guess is as good a mine. What I want to briefly discuss is how to help a victim survive a shooting after 911 has been called (if it’s available). […]

By | September 25th, 2013|Other Wounds|10 Comments

To Pop or Not to Pop? This Answer Can Make Your Blister Heal Better

by James Hubbard, MD, MPH When someone comes in to my office with a burn or really any type of condition that causes a blister I’m almost always asked what’s the best treatment—specifically, should they pop the blister or not pop? Over the years, I’ve come up with some blister treatment guidelines. But first I should tell you why just popping all blisters is not always the best plan. […]

By | August 7th, 2013|Other Wounds, Skin|42 Comments

How to Treat a Burn Like a TV Star

by James Hubbard, MD, MPH Many of us try to stay outside as much as we can this time of year. Grilling, camping, swimming, there’s so much to do. You sure don’t want to waste time when you could be having fun recuperating from an injury. One hazard common to all the activities I mentioned is burns. Even a bad sunburn can be severe enough to cause blisters and make you feel horrible. (In fact, I recently wrote on how to avoid this and on the pros and cons of using sunscreen.) But sometimes, accidents just happen—and so do burns worse than any sunburn. That’s why everyone should know at least the basics of how to treat a burn. Minimize the damage, and you’ll minimize that recovery time. As an example, let’s look at a real-life burn. Would you know what to do in the following situation? […]

By | July 3rd, 2013|Other Wounds, Skin|4 Comments

“Sunscreen Causes Cancer”: Truth or Fiction?

by James Hubbard, MD, MPH I didn’t realize until a few days ago how prevalent the view is—at least on the Internet—that sunscreen causes cancer. Many people state the claims of dangers as given facts. And they say organizations like the American Medical Association stand behind them. (Not true. I don’t know of any mainstream medical organization that recommends against sunscreen when you’re in the sun.) The truth matters here. Because not even the fiercest critics of sunscreen debate against the fact that absorbing too many UV rays from the sun is a big risk factor for skin cancer. […]

By | June 5th, 2013|Hot, Skin, Weather|13 Comments