Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.
If the wound will not stop bleeding after 5 minutes of direct pressure or is spurting blood, call
a doctor or go to an Emergency Department.
If the wound was caused by a nail, pen, or pencil, call a doctor to see if
the person needs immediate care or close follow-up.
If the person is not sure when they had their last tetanus shot, check with
the doctor's office. Individuals will need a tetanus shot if it has been more than 10 years since
their last shot or if their last tetanus shot was more than 5 years ago, and the wound has been contaminated with dirt.
This is done since immunity to tetanus may wane over time.
If the person knows or suspects part of the object remains in the wound, contact
a doctor. The individual may need urgent care to detect and remove the object.
When to go to the hospital
Seek emergency medical attention in any of the following situations:
If the wound is in the head, chest, or abdomen, unless it is very small, but
it is better to be sure. If there is any concern, see a doctor.
If there is loss of feeling, numbness, or inability to move an arm or leg below the wound
If the wound is more than 24 hours old and the person develops signs of infection, such as redness at the area of the wound, swelling, pus drainage, fever over 100 F
(37.3 C), or red streaks coming away from the wound
If the wound does not stop bleeding after pressure is applied for 5 minutes
If the wound has part of an object remaining in it, such as a pencil tip, nail, or piece of glass
If a lot of dirt remains in the wound
If the wound is gaping or there is white tissue (fatty tissue) or muscle visible
If the person has a chronic medical condition, such as diabetes, or takes steroids