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Non-Fatal but Critical Stab Wound
okmewriting wrote in little_details
SettingUK mid 2000s
Googled: abdominal stab wound blood loss, stabbing blood loss, stomach stabbing blood loss, non-fatal stab wounds
tags: medicine: injuries to order, *fill: medicine: injuries: stab wounds, medicine: injuries (misc)

My male character in his mid twenties opens the door and is stabbed with a switchblade/flick knife/gravity knife. I need somewhere for him to be stabbed that isn't immediately fatal. I don't really want this character to die I just want him to bleed and pass out. He's will get found by another character who's going to think he's dead. Also if he is stabbed how many hours can he be left without dying before he receives medical attention.

ETA for further clarfication: I was thinking that perhaps he was found one hour after he was stabbed. The character that finds him thinks he's dead. Then an hour later another character finds him. So two hours in total before he gets medical attention.

I did google but I found a lot of confusing technical jargon. If someone wants to point me in the right direction that would be great. Thanks in advance.

Oh hai thar! (And if you aren't who I think you are, I just look like a big doof)

I had pictured it being more in the shoulder region and I specified the right side so it was away from the heart. Give me a few minutes and I can poke around the interwebs for you.

Edit: I ended up going to a book. Books are good.

So, here is a list of chest injuries that can kill within hours. I can give you the list for injuries that'll kill in minutes if you want to compare.

* Lung Bruise - from blunt trauma
* Heart Bruise - from blunt trauma
* Torn Aorta - large artery coming off the heart gets lacerated
* Torn Diaphragm - the thin muscle layer separating the chest and the abdomen is lacerated
* Torn Windpipe (or its branches) - air leak; lung may collapse
* Torn Gullet - esophagus is lacerated, leaks and causes infection from swallowed bacteria; if the tear isn't treated, death may take days or weeks

And then there's your basic pneumothorax/hemothorax

Edited at 2009-07-30 04:24 am (UTC)

Thanks a lot for the info, I'll check all those out.

About the only immediately fatal stab wound with a knife that small would involve driving it into the brain and swishing for a bit, and even that's insufficient sometimes. When you aren't being salsafied, human bodies can be astonishingly hard to kill.

There's no pre-set time for a standard-issue stab wound before someone dies. It can be a couple of minutes if you hit the 'right' place, or it could be long enough that the injury would heal on its own.

You're asking the wrong questions here, in other words. You need to figure out how long after the attack the victim is found, and only then can people give you a reasonable answer. (Or you could just say he was stabbed without specifying the exact location.)

Sorry I was thinking that perhaps he was found 1 hour after he was stabbed. The character that finds him thinks he's dead. Then an hour later another character finds him. So two hours in total before he gets medical attention.

OK, not a medical professional but: unless the heart or the major arteries leading to the heart (or other major arteries)or the kidneys are involved, a relatively healthy human being can survive a single stab wound while passing out from blood loss.

Lacerated liver is pretty bad but not so quickly fatal like the kidneys. Perforating the intestines can lead to nasty infections if not dealt with quickly. A perforated lung can be pretty damn serious too, but not immediately fatal either.

A stomach wound would be nasty, due to the acid getting everywhere, so I'm pretty sure a wound to the stomach would be fatal relatively quickly. Not within minutes, I don't think, but the damage done by the acid/infections could end up being fatal even if the wound itself heals. I'm not 100% sure on anything, but that's just from what I've seen.

Actually, one of the problems with stomach wounds that makes them so nasty is that they usually aren't quickly fatal, so the victim gets the full experience for much longer. There's lots of Stuff there, but if you miss the liver, kidneys, aorta and its immediate tributaries, there aren't many quick-death spots.

They were utterly fatal in the course of a couple of days or weeks anytime before the late nineteenth century; "gut shot" was the same as "killed," except that it took entirely too long for the two to meet up in practice. People could linger for days, treatment or not.

Thanks a lot for all the info, it's really helpful.

A boy in our village was stabbed in the stomach with a smallish knife, rushed straight to hospital and died on the operating table three hours later. There are really no hard and fast rules.

You don't say whether this is present day or what level of medical attention he'll be receiving.

Thanks a lot for the info. This is mid 2000s and he's not going to be found for two hours. He'll get full medical attention after that consistent with what is around in the UK.

When I was training in martial arts, during the knife techniques there was a lot of focus put on aiming for joints, and aiming for the bladder. The idea being that these are extremely painful places to get stabbed, but carry a smaller risk of lethality than, say, stabbing someone in the throat. This is not an exact science, but sticking a knife in someone's joint at least tends to drastically reduce their mobility if they insist on keeping in the fight.

One thing that will make a lot of difference in how long after the stabbing the person is likely to stay alive is whether or not the knife is removed. Whether the location is critical, or superficial, it takes a lot longer to bleed out if the knife stays in. It acts kind of like a cork. But I would think it's generally safe to assume that any wound that would cause someone to quickly pass out from blood loss is the same kind of wound that will make them quickly die from blood loss. It might be a more feasible scenario if the stab victim manages to bandage himself before he passes out and thereby allowing time to pass without him dying of blood loss, or if some blunt-force trauma to the head is added to the attack, and he's just plain knocked out.

Thanks a lot for the info and suggestions. I hadn't thought have him getting hit on the head.

I don't know if anyone's mentioned this case already, but . . .

There was a case in the UK a couple of years(?) ago, where a boy died from being stabbed in the leg. (blood loss)

Now, it is assumed by most that the reason the attacker stabbed him in the leg was to aviod killing him, yet they managed to anyway through simple lack of sceintific knowledge.

So, basically any major artery would kill him. But a slightly less severe leg wound might not. However, like the attackers, the person who finds your victim might think that because he is bleeding from his leg, he is not dead.

Another medical point to take into consideration is that arterys, leading directly from the heart, bleed with a rhythm. (I can't remember if this is worse or better than a vein, I think it's worse) So that would meke it clear his heart is still beating and he is therefore alive. So not bleeding from an artery.

To make it look most critical, I think he should either be bleeding from the head or torso, the torso is more common for stab wounds so we'll go there.

If you have them bleeding from their belly area, then they will only live through luck that their major organs have not been hurt. They would probably be okay if a kidney or intestine was grazed but I don't know. I also don't know how fast internal bleeding can kill a person, so . . . *shrugs*.

You could have them stabbed in the shoulder, above the lung, that would be pretty safe, I think.

Also, I was told (through urban fantasy and ex-SAS authored books) that if you are "new to the killing buisness" to avoid stabbing the chest/ribs area, as it is very unlikely you have the skill to not hit a rib, and therefore you probably won't kill the person!! So a chest wound might be your answer!!

Please match this up against everyone else's answers. I can't be certain of my knowledge, as I am not a doctor.

Thanks a lot for all the info, its really helpful.

a stab directly in the middle of the heart wont kill will cause a lot of internal complications but will not prove fatal!!if you hit the right spot you can live to tell about it.i have operated on many of these victims and have proved success.

It could be shallow wound and therefore not hitting any important organs. You could go for a stab under the rib cage near the hips and aim for the appendix that way it can be removed anyway once it has been stabbed. Probably a bit unrealistic but still

OMG im also a writer having the same problem with my charcter! i have had such hard time researching this to make sure that im as accurate as possible. i havent found much on it but i do know that if you place the blade in just the right spot beneath the right lung, you can stab someone without immediately killing them but you have to time it right and make sure they arent inhaling because it stretched the lungs to fill with air, lengthening the apex. you cant do the left lung because the apex is lower down. if hou hit it just right you can nick the diaphram which will cause blood to come out of the mouth whent they breathe but without completely flooding the lung or killing them immediately. also there will be an impressive amount of blood to make them look like they should be dead. time it just right and they should loose consciousness relatively quickly. i am however sorry to say that you are still going to have to shorten your waiting times a little to just less than two hours because no matter where you are stabbed, two hours is plenty of time to bleed out. i was in nursing school before i switched majors to english and writing. hope this helps hun and if you find anything better let me know. diagrams of human anatomy also help, and dont make the wound too deep or the blade to wide, it could nick something else! :) Good Luck!


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