Army: Bogus Tourniquets Could Endanger Lives In Combat

FORT SAM HOUSTON (June 21, 2010)—Combat Application Tourniquets are issued to all deploying U.S. soldiers, but Army officials are sounding an alert about bogus tourniquets made in Hong Kong that cannot control bleeding.

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“While I haven’t seen any of these counterfeits in use, I have seen a few ordered by logisticians more interested in cutting costs than in quality control,” said Col. John Kragh, U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research at Fort Sam Houston.

“The rod on the dummy tourniquet is bendable to a point where it cannot work right. It's like bending Gumby's arm,” he said.

“The danger is if someone mistakes the fake for a real CAT or a real medical device,” the colonel said.

“That mistake could be fatal, since it cannot control bleeding.”

The counterfeit tourniquets are available on non-Department of Defense websites, officials said, but authorized Defense Department gateways will provide only the approved product from authorized distributors.

“It’s easy to get the right items using routine, professional supply channels,” Kragh said.

“If other channels are used, then it’s easy to get the wrong stuff. It just takes a credit card and choosing the wrong online supplier.”

The alert said the phony tourniquet was discovered first several years ago in a depot in Afghanistan.

The latest versions have been modified and are difficult to distinguish from the authentic tourniquet, the alert says.

The authentic tourniquet has a National Stock Number of 6515-01-521-7976 and has a unit cost of $27.28.

“The markings appear to be a copyright or trademark infringement, and that is why law enforcement has become involved in the investigation,” the colonel said.

Information about the proper combat application tourniquet is available on the U.S. Army Medical Materiel Agency website.

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