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What To Do When Someone Has A Compound Fracture?

A Brief Overview of Compound Fracture

A compound fracture, also known by the name of an open fracture, is a variant of a fracture which is usually caused as a result of a high level vehicle collision or a forced trauma such as a gunshot wound in which the broken pieces of bone breaks through the skin. A compound fracture is also called as a displaced fracture since the bone breaks away from their normal anatomical position. Since there is a break of skin surface in compound fractures, it acts a perfect breeding ground for contaminants to enter through the wound and cause infections. Surgery is needed for treating compound fracture.

Before going to the emergency room after sustaining a compound fracture, it is important to follow a few guidelines to help the patient to prevent any complications that may arise immediately after the surgery. This article gives a brief overview of what should be done when someone has a compound fracture.

What is the Treatment for Compound Fracture?

Surgery is the treatment done for compound fractures. The surgical procedure for treatment of compound fractures is called as open reduction and internal fixation surgery. The pieces of bones are fixed at their normal position with the help of screws and rods and the fracture is allowed to heal. The surgery for an open fracture is an emergent condition and should be done at the earliest possible time in order to prevent infections from creeping in and prevent any potentially serious complications.

What To Do When Someone Has A Compound Fracture?

What To Do When Someone Has A Compound Fracture?

The First Aid Steps In Case Of Compound Fracture:

Call 911: The first thing to do after an individual has sustained a compound fracture is to call 911 for emergency help. This becomes that much more important if the patient is not responding to verbal stimuli and is not moving. CPR should be given immediately to the patient having compound fracture if there is no heartbeat.

Stop the Bleeding: Stopping the bleeding from the fractured site is the next step, which can be done by applying pressure to the injury site with a sterile cloth or gauze. It may not stop the bleeding completely, but may help a lot in slowing the bleeding from a compound fracture by the time the emergency team arrives. It should be made sure that the fractured area is not moved so as to prevent any further injury to the area.

Tear The Clothing Sticking To The Wound: If the patient suffering from compound fracture is conscious and is not able to move the injured area at all, then it is important to make the patient comfortable by making him/her lie down and tearing away any clothing which may be sticking to the injured or fractured site.

Use Ice Packs: Apply ice pack around the area of swelling at fracture site to help calm it down.

Never Ever Try To Set Or Move The Fractured Bones: It is highly recommended to never try and set the piercing bones in a compound fracture back in by yourself as it may complicate the matter.

Immobilize the Fractured Site: As said before, do not try to re-align the bones. If you have been trained in splinting and if there is delay in getting medical help, then you can gently apply a splint to the regions above and below the fracture sites. Also, try padding the splints to reduce the discomfort.

In Case of Shock: In case if the patient having a compound fracture is in a shock due to the injury or feels faint, then lay the patient down with the head slightly lower than the body and the legs elevated if possible to prevent any complications from an injury causing the compound fracture.


  1. Mayo Clinic Staff. (2021). Broken Bone (Types of Bone Fractures). Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/broken-bone/symptoms-causes/syc-20370464
  2. MedlinePlus. (2021). Fractures. U.S. National Library of Medicine. https://medlineplus.gov/fractures.html
  3. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. (2021). Fractures (Broken Bones). OrthoInfo. https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases–conditions/fractures-broken-bones/

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:August 2, 2023

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