University of Lynchburg DMSc Doctoral Project Assignment Repository

University of Lynchburg DMSc Doctoral Project Assignment Repository


General, Prehospital


Dr. Tom Colletti



Background: Literature has described tourniquet-like devices since the 6th century BC, but tourniquets did not enjoy widespread use until the United States military recognized their utility in stopping extremity bleeding on the battlefield in the early 21st century. The success of the tourniquet in saving lives in combat led to their official adoption in civilian settings through the Stop the Bleep Program.

Purpose: This paper intends to review the history of the tourniquet, explore the events that led to the adoption of the tourniquet in civilian trauma, and discuss the current status of the Stop the Bleed Program.

Method: This literature review is a historical review of the evolution of tourniquet use from antiquity to the current era.

Results: A total of 16 articles were reviewed, and their information was synthesized to understand the utility of tourniquet use in the military and civilian settings.

Conclusions: After centuries of skepticism, the United States military allowed the tourniquet to prove its ability to effectively control extremity hemorrhage on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan. Tourniquets were so successful on the battlefield that the American College of Surgeons took notice and recommended tourniquet use in civilian mass casualty events. President Barrack Obama would start the Stop the Bleed program to promote the use of tourniquets by providing training and bleeding control kits in public areas. In less than 20 years, the tourniquet has gone from a frowned upon treatment of last resort to an integral part of military medicine and civilian mass casualty events.


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