Dated dressings - would you use if needed?

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Paul_B

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Jul 14, 2008
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Lancashire
Just looked at a couple of our larger FAKs and the sterile dressings are out of date. What is the risk vs benefits of using them in an emergency?

In the case of our kit they're in an immaculate, intact paper packaging (often the only packaging) and a press to close type of ziplock bag. One bag per drawing. Date is anything from a year to 4 years out of date. I've taken out the older ones but left the year old ones. This kit has been bought, opened to look at contents then extra plasters added before being zipped shut for 4+ years.

I'm intending to order some replacements but until I get them, I do wonder what the real risk is.

I'm thinking infection is treatable at a later time but blood loss isn't, it's a sort it now matter. My partner says she would use it all and ignore the date. For me 4 years out of date isn't useable.

Another query is about how long they last in date? If this FAK I bought just over 4 years ago has stuff 1 and 2 years out of date then that's potentially 2 years in date. Is that normal? Is it just the supply chain covering itself?

After I get refills I might keep the dressings just out of date, clearly marked out, as emergency backups. I've had situation where I needed a lot of dressings, more than come with a FAK, even a larger family one.

Over to you more knowledgeable people for answers. It's all genuine questions. I have first aid training sufficient for public first aid situation, 16 hours with StJ'sA, but I don't know about the details relating to the actual dressings. Who really does without further training? When I had my first training as a 13 year old FAKs were still being sold without dated sterile dressings I believe. At least I grew up with stuff without dates. Yes, I read labels as a young kid, just part of my thirst for knowledge and a memory like a sponge soaking everything up (until full that is).
 

MrEd

Full Member
Feb 18, 2010
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yeah i would use them on myself (and have done) but would baulk at using them on members of the public or strangers due to the litigation culture we live in. I swap mine out when they expire, its not much cost to keep my FAK up to date
 
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Short_edc

Tenderfoot
May 1, 2020
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Cambs
If in doubt, pick up some more and then use them for training on loved ones or have them train on you, that said having some that are out of date is better than having none and if I didn’t have the money to replace them I would keep them until I did.
I recon Infection control will be sorted when you get to the hospital, so I’d deal with the biggest risk first (stop the bleed) make my assessment and work down. (Person experience, in no way a professional)
 
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Dogoak

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Jan 24, 2009
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Cairngorms
If they're in that condition I'd use them, as you say better to stop the blood loss. On a FA course some years ago the instructor said that he always had a new J Cloth type thing in his kit for big bleeds, his reasoning was that stopping it was far more important and the chances were that the unsterilised cloth was probably cleaner than what had caused the bleed, made sense to me so I have one in one of my kits, thankfully I've never had to use it.

I can't remember this exactly but there was some audit type thing done by the US military a few years back. They were facing a huge bill, millions, as a lot of their medical supplies, including drugs, etc; were going to expire from they're use by date.
Manufacturers were contacted, etc; and the long and short of it was that most of the stuff was OK way past its expirery date as long as it had been looked after and stored correctly.
 
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SaraR

Full Member
Mar 25, 2017
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Ceredigion
Honestly, if it had been stored in a clean/dry environment, I wouldn't care about the date at all. It's only there ho stop the bleed until the paramedics get there or you get to A&E. After all, we're advised to use socks or other items of clothing if necessary and they certainly won't be as clean as your wrapped up pad.

I'd be more concerned about sterility when it comes ho burns and eyes, but even then I'd be happy to use a pad that's been in a plastic wrapper.

Now if you go off on seriously remote expeditions where medical attention would be days away, then I'd be more concerned about the dates. But then you'd probably be carrying antibiotics as well anyway.
 
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Paul_B

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Jul 14, 2008
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They're all immaculate being mostly sealed in the paper packaging and the plastic bags that come in individually. Now chemical mixtures can go off. When I worked for a company dealing in passive fire protection products there was always a clear use by date and storage conditions to be met. Failure to adhere to them then it's not covered by the fire test certificate and the installers could get into trouble if there was a fire. Well, that was before the conditions that allowed Grenfell. In digress. My point being cloth isn't going to go off and if the package is sealed/air tight then I'm not sure much can grow to cause issues.
Ill be replacing them but it's a little annoying to waste stuff, well it's not obviously because wasting them means no use for them = no injury which is good.
 

Paul_B

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Jul 14, 2008
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The idea of using them was extras is basically because a bleed might need a second layer. I had two on my knuckle and one in my palm. The second one in the knuckle was because the be first, large ambulance dressing was full of claret and the medic didn't want to take n it off due to potential for increasing infection risk IIRC. First two dressings were put on by a retired MRT member (retired but still a member due to 15+years active service). Two hours later the MRT medic added a second. The guy in our group had plenty of dressings left but he knew the team were close because we'd been talking to them down the crag so left it to them. One guy was an off duty doctor with A&E experience among other things so he added the outer bandage.

I think if I or any other person in the group I'm in had a bleed needing extra dressings then the out of date but still in the original packet dressing would go on the outside. It's not in direct wound contact but it could help staunch the flow. It took a double layer to stop my flow.

So the advice is that if the packaging is intact it's probably ok and most people would use it if nothing else, right?

If there is an in date dressing I think everyone would dig that out first though.
 

Stew

Bushcrafter through and through
Nov 29, 2003
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Aylesbury
stewartjlight-knives.com
Do you really want the hassle of checking through your kit to check dates in an emergency. What if you’re the one injured and someone else is using your kit. Can you really rely on them to pull out the correct one?
 
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SaraR

Full Member
Mar 25, 2017
564
335
Ceredigion
The idea of using them was extras is basically because a bleed might need a second layer. I had two on my knuckle and one in my palm. The second one in the knuckle was because the be first, large ambulance dressing was full of claret and the medic didn't want to take n it off due to potential for increasing infection risk IIRC. First two dressings were put on by a retired MRT member (retired but still a member due to 15+years active service). Two hours later the MRT medic added a second. The guy in our group had plenty of dressings left but he knew the team were close because we'd been talking to them down the crag so left it to them. One guy was an off duty doctor with A&E experience among other things so he added the outer bandage.

I think if I or any other person in the group I'm in had a bleed needing extra dressings then the out of date but still in the original packet dressing would go on the outside. It's not in direct wound contact but it could help staunch the flow. It took a double layer to stop my flow.

So the advice is that if the packaging is intact it's probably ok and most people would use it if nothing else, right?

If there is an in date dressing I think everyone would dig that out first though.
Nobody is going to check dates when there's claret everywhere. Just leave them in and use them as needed. And please make sure you have lots, one ambulance dressing doesn't make anyone happy. Crêpe bandages are good. lots and lots of crêpe bandages. :)
 

santaman2000

M.A.B (Mad About Bushcraft)
Jan 15, 2011
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I don’t think I’ve ever seen an expiration date on bandages over here. They usually say something like: “Sterility guaranteed if packaging is intact.” I wouldn’t worry about dates on dry items. Chemicals such as antiseptics or meds are another matter though.
 

santaman2000

M.A.B (Mad About Bushcraft)
Jan 15, 2011
16,711
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Florida
.......I can't remember this exactly but there was some audit type thing done by the US military a few years back. They were facing a huge bill, millions, as a lot of their medical supplies, including drugs, etc; were going to expire from they're use by date.
Manufacturers were contacted, etc; and the long and short of it was that most of the stuff was OK way past its expirery date as long as it had been looked after and stored correctly.
Yeah I remember that too. That said, I get still most of my meds from the base pharmacy and all issued meds still come with ”discard after one year” printed on the label. The thing is though that I have no idea how long it was on the pharmacy shelf before it was issued.
 

reflexmedical

Member
Apr 22, 2020
11
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UK
I think if it was the only option and being used on yourself then the bleed is a far bigger risk. However, you should normally get bandages with 2 years + shelf life and when a few bandages will cost less than a pint I think it's easiest to keep them up to date and use the out of date stuff for training!