First Aid and pre-hospital practices in snakebite victims: The persistent use of harmful interventions

Kalana Prasad Maduwage*, SMK Gamage, José María Gutiérrez

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


First aid intervention and pre-hospital (FAPH) practices are common in patients suffering from snakebite envenomation (SBE). In this study, we have reviewed the literature concerning the use of these practices in various regions of the world in the period 1947-2023 based on published prospective studies. A total of 71 publications fulfilled the inclusion criteria. In terms of the total number of patients in all studies that used each FAPH intervention, the most common practice was the application of tourniquets (45.8%). Other FAPH practices described include cuts/incisions (6.7%), the application of a variety of natural or synthetic substances at the bite site (5.6%), and ingestion of natural, usually herbal, remedies (2.9%). Washing the site of the bite was described in 9.1% of patients. There were other less frequent FAPH practices, including suction, splinting-immobilization, pressure-bandage, ice packs, application of a snake/black stone, and administration of alcoholic beverages. There were differences in the extent of application of FAPH interventions in different continents. Tourniquets were highest (55.7%) in Asia. Topical application of various products was common in South America, while pressure-bandage was only reported in Australia. We did not find any statistically significant variations in the frequency of the most frequent FAPH interventions at three-time intervals (before 2006, between 2006 and 2015, and after 2015). Our findings highlight the use of FAPH interventions in patients suffering SBE, some of which are known to be harmful. It is necessary to study these practices to a higher level of geographic granularity, using community-based surveys. Programs tailored to local contexts should be promoted, aimed at avoiding the use of harmful FAPH practices. It is also necessary to assess the efficacy and safety of some interventions through robust preclinical and clinical studies.
Original languageEnglish
Article number107582
Pages (from-to)1-6
Number of pages6
Early online date19 Dec 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2024


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