A new blood-clotting agent was tried out by the Marines during Gulf War II — and flopped. So why is the product now being rolled out to consumers?
Developed by Newington, CT-based Z-Medica with funding from the Office of Naval Research, “QuickClot” is designed to stop heavy, uncontrolled bleeding. It does this by “absorbing all the liquid in the blood, and leaving behind the clotting factors,” according to a Navy press release. In tests, the powder supposedly helped turn ” wounds that once were 100 percent fatal into wounds that were 100 percent nonfatal.“
On the battlefield, however, QuickClot didn’t hold up as well. Members of the 1 Marine Expeditionary Force, serving in central Iraq, reported that QuickClot was “ineffective” in treating wounds, and keeping people alive.
A field report, prepared by Marine Corps Systems Command, detailed some of their complaints with the agent:
- Wounded Iraqi civilian. Shot near brachial artery. QuikClot was applied per the instructions. The substance dried but was flaking off. Standard direct pressure applied by corpsman proved more effective on the patient.
– Iraqi civilian shot in back with punctured spine. QuikClot applied to severe bleeding. Pressure from bleeding sprayed QuikClot away. According to LT Webb, QuikClot was everywhere but the wound.
– Iraqi civilian, female, shot in femoral artery. She suffered severe arterial bleeding. Patient bled out. QuikClot unable to be applied effectively due to pressure of blood flow from wound. Patient died.
– An LAR Marine was shot in the femoral artery. Quick Clot was applied to the heavily bleeding wound. The pressure from the blood soon caused the QuickClot to be pushed out of the wound and rendered ineffective. A tourniquet was applied instead. The patient died.
Despite these failures, QuickClot is already being marketed to firemen, emergency medical technicians, cops — even veterinarians. In the next few months, the powder will be introduced to the larger consumer market, for home first aid. According to the Navy, Z-Medica is pushing ahead with trials to show that QuickClot could help “the particular bleeding problems of diabetics, hemophiliacs, and (blood-thinning medicine) coumadin users.“
Now, the Marines’ report does say that other units had different opinions of QuickClot. So maybe it worked better elsewhere in Iraq. But with such conflicting data, you’d think that Z-Medica would take a pause before asking the public to trust their lives to QuickClot.
THERE’S MORE: “The folks at Z-Medica are well aware of this report,” a spokesperson says in an e-mail. “It was from a particular unit that either was not adequately briefed about how to use QuikClot or did not follow instructions properly, though they may have thought they were. The Navy and Marines also have numerous confirmed cases of QuikClot saving lives in the Iraqi theatre. It does work and is continuing to be included in the new Marine first aid kit.”