What to do when you saw off a finger

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Forum topic by Brandon posted 09-17-2010 01:48 AM 5553 views 0 times favorited 26 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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4152 posts in 2920 days

09-17-2010 01:48 AM

I hope no LJs will ever have to use this information, but I thought it might be good to pass along.

It’s a report on CNN that gives some information about what to do when you have a body-altering accident, such as loosing a finger to a saw. Included in the article are a couple of links for more information.

-- "hold fast to that which is good"

26 replies so far

View Seer's profile


305 posts in 3611 days

#1 posted 09-17-2010 02:11 AM

CA Glue and some sawdust to fill in the cracks :-p


View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3083 days

#2 posted 09-17-2010 02:25 AM

thankĀ“s for the tip
just hope I never have to use it

take care

View Greedo's profile


473 posts in 2929 days

#3 posted 09-17-2010 01:21 PM

tx for the reminder, theres a poster with all this info on the wall of the school workshop.
they also say that if you haven’t got acces to a plastic bag and icy water, that the best is to put the severed finger in your mouth! can anybody confirm?

View Walt's profile


246 posts in 2807 days

#4 posted 09-17-2010 02:36 PM

I am a RN with 42 years experience and I would not recommend placing the severed part in the mouth. The human mouth is a place that has many bacteria and the goal with any severed part is to reduce the bacteria the can get on the part. If you don’t have a plastic bag wrap the part in a moist (not Wet) cool cloth of any type.. The most important thing to remember is to prevent this from happening.

-- Walt Wilmington Delaware,

View EEngineer's profile


1102 posts in 3582 days

#5 posted 09-17-2010 04:08 PM

What to do when you saw off a finger?

Why, post it to LumberJocks, of course! Complete with gory photographs.

-- "Find out what you cannot do and then go do it!"

View helluvawreck's profile


30765 posts in 2835 days

#6 posted 09-17-2010 04:29 PM

Thanks for the info but I sure hope that I won’t ever need it but who knows. I’ve been using table saws for 40 years and this past weekend I had my first kick back accident. It happened in a split second and fortunately I was not injured. I really don’t know how I escaped injury but I was not injured. I kept on working but it’s sort of funny; I kept looking at my right hand every so often checking it but it wasn’t hurt. My stupidity with this injury was getting in a hurry to finish. I was lucky.

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View rivergirl's profile


3201 posts in 2807 days

#7 posted 09-17-2010 05:33 PM

Actually, about putting in in your mouth.. Although it would be hard not to gag and barf- having been a dental hygienist in a former life…. When you get a tooth knocked out the best place to put it is in your mouth. (Don’t swallow of course). If the tooth is kept in the mouth it stays moist, body temperature and it stays relatively clean. When a dislodged tooth is transported in the patient’s own mouth it can very often be reinserted into the socket and stabilized and you save the tooth. This is particularly important if it is a FRONT tooth. :) So I imagine the same is true of a severed finger. As for bacteria- well the bacteria in your mouth is already YOUR bacteria, and is not foreign to the body. A wet rag however is full of bacteria- some of which can kill you and your finger- especially if it is a shop rag or a kitchen rag. So, again, if you could not puke, I would say put it in your mouth. Afterall, when you cut your finger any other time, you very often put it right in your mouth. :) But I hope none of us has to test the waters here…. :)

-- Homer : "Oh, and how is education supposed to make me feel smarter? Besides, every time I learn something new, it pushes some old stuff out of my brain."

View rbterhune's profile


176 posts in 3190 days

#8 posted 09-17-2010 07:26 PM

They didn’t say put a finger or toe in your mouth…they were referring to teeth.

View reggiek's profile


2240 posts in 3238 days

#9 posted 09-17-2010 07:32 PM

Sorry folks – I couldn’t resist….Why not put it on a stick and make a very effective back scratcher…...or You can also use it as a one side ear plug or nose plug (you will have a pair after you saw off the next finger).

As for re-connecting the digit….you can use the “redneck” method….bailing wire and duct tape….the “Tim the toolman” method – chain hoist and pile driver…..the “Martha Stewart” method – doileys and craft yarn….the “Teabagger” method – blame it on obama and his policies…..or one of my favorites the “Bush” method – send in the bombers and tanks….

Truthfully, the information in the original post can possibly save the digit….but the best possible solution is to avoid unsafe acts…It is not cowardly or weak to practice safety….Our company drills that into our construction workers time and again….being tough or cool does not mean you disreguard safety… one is macho when they are bleeding from a traumatic dismembering….we tell our folks to watch out for your fellow workers…and especially for yourself…follow prescribed safety instructions at all times….Think ahead…and most of all Pay Attention.

-- Woodworking.....My small slice of heaven!

View big_wood's profile


31 posts in 3095 days

#10 posted 09-17-2010 08:04 PM

Good info and good to run through the scenario in your head if it should ever happen to you.

This happened to my neighbor one evening a couple years back when he cut his finger off on the table saw. His wife called me over to help as she knew i have first aid training and they were both freaking out. I would have been freaking out myself if I didn’t have half dozen beers in me. (give me a break, I was at a Christmas party)

i just remembered from my level 2 training to call the ambulance ASAP, even though not life threatening but will increase the chance the finger will be reattached with little issues. Most important thing to remember is to keep the finger with the patient wrapped in a moist towel in a iced bag, hung around the guys neck if have to and treat for shock. You always hear stories of guys showing up at the hospital but can’t find their lost body part. A specialist met him at the hospital to attach the finger. Good to be specific on the call to 911.

later, i told him he’s got bad luck and should give me all his ww’ing tools. he didn’t fall for it.

View rivergirl's profile


3201 posts in 2807 days

#11 posted 09-17-2010 08:59 PM

Okay- how about bend over, put your head between your knees and kiss your…... goodbye? Or is that not good advice… Maybe better just put in in your mouth and let the saliva wash it up… that’s probably better.

-- Homer : "Oh, and how is education supposed to make me feel smarter? Besides, every time I learn something new, it pushes some old stuff out of my brain."

View Colin 's profile


93 posts in 2779 days

#12 posted 09-17-2010 09:05 PM

I have to agree most times it is bad safety practice that results in these types of injuries. About ten years ago, I was on the table saw first to rip some 2x and then I had to cut down some plywood for end-panels. I didn’t lower the blade and the the plywood started to drift a little from the fence so I pushed on the opposite corner and pushed my hand right through the blade. Since this was a wide cut, there was room to have a blade guard down over the blade which would have prevented injury. The shop I worked for didn’t have a guard at the time. But more importantly I could have prevented the injury by lowering the blade or by simply paying better attention. By the way, they can succesfully reattach fingers after 10-12 hours. I mention this because the doctors fail to pass on this information so it can be a little stressfull if you don’t know this and you are waiting 6 or more hours for surgery, thinking maybe too much time has already passed. And apparantly doctors don’t know this type of injury is painful so you need to be assertive when asking for pain killers. I waited 45 minutes before they gave me anything. And before the doctor finally gave me some morphine, he actually asked “on a scale of 1 to 10, how bad is the pain?” I laughed but I wanted to punch him.


View bonehead's profile


45 posts in 2890 days

#13 posted 09-18-2010 12:08 AM

I am a hand surgeon and if you presented to the ER with the severed finger in your mouth I would throw it in the trash because of the gross contamination, clean and close your finger and the next functional level. Then I would order a psych consult because I think you are crazy enough to put the finger in your mouth or you bit your finger off in the first place.

I have strong opinions about digital replantation that would not be popular @ lumberjocks.


-- All lessons are repeated until learned

View bonehead's profile


45 posts in 2890 days

#14 posted 09-18-2010 10:58 PM

Didn’t mean to come across as a d!ck. That was not my intention.

Really the instructions on the link are accurate for a tooth and a finger. But they are not the same. Put your finger in a moist cloth or paper towel and place it in a bag. Put THAT bag in another bag of ice. Don’t put it in your mouth. Here is why.

One of the important variables you worry about is WARM ischemia time. It is very important to decrease the temp of the body part. Putting in your mouth isn’t helping. Your tooth is mostly acellular and this is not a big factor.

As far as infection goes, this is a good illustration:
The % of dog bites that get infected….....about 5%
The % of cat bites that get infected…...about 80%
The % of human bites (ie hitting someone and their tooth penetrates the skin – “fight bite”) .....the same as cats.
The human mouth is nasty (in many ways :)

THere are plenty of antecdotal stories of wonderful outcomes with replantation. But the indications for doing so with a finger are becoming narrower and narrower and fewer and fewer are done. The outcomes are just not that great for a FINGER.

Thumbs and hands are a different situation. Replantation should almost always be attempted.

The mechanism of action plays an important role. Cutting a finger off cleanly will do better if there is no crushing injury.

Now, if you really want a heated discussion, think about the cost. I can’t remember the exact figure but a replant costs well over a $100k and a LONG recovery- out of work etc. Especially compared to a primary closure.

Who should pay for it?

I hope this info helps.


-- All lessons are repeated until learned

View bonehead's profile


45 posts in 2890 days

#15 posted 09-18-2010 11:02 PM

Oh and just so you know. I don’t know diddly about woodworking. It is a lifelong interest and I am here to learn.


-- All lessons are repeated until learned

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