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Prehosp Emerg Care. 2017 Jan-Feb;21(1):39-45. doi: 10.1080/10903127.2016.1209261. Epub 2016 Aug 5.

Confidence-Competence Mismatch and Reasons for Failure of Non-Medical Tourniquet Users.



Tourniquet application is a lifesaving skill taught worldwide in first aid bleeding control courses. We observed performance among non-medical users of tourniquets in their confidence, competence, and reasons for failure.


179 Israeli military recruits without prior medical training underwent their standard first aid course where they learned Combat Application Tourniquet (CAT; Composite Resources, Rock Hill, SC, USA) use. After course completion, they self-reported confidence in tourniquet use. User performance was assessed 7-14 days later using a HapMed™ mannequin that assessed time, pressure, and blood loss. Competent performance required in aggregate: 1) use with pressure of 200 mmHg or more, 2) hemorrhage volume of less than 638 mL, and 3) correct placement of the tourniquet. For failed performance, a reason for failure was reported independently by both the user and an expert observer.


45 of 179 user performances (25%) were competent. Users who reported high confidence had only a slightly higher chance of achieving competence in tourniquet application (r = 0.17, p = 0.022). The most common reason for failure was excess slack in the CAT's strap (experts 55%, users 39%), and too few turns of the windlass (23% and 31%, respectively) was the second most common reason. Expert and user evaluations had poor agreement (κ = 0.44, 95% CI 0.32-0.56).


The most common reason for failed use of tourniquets among non-medical users was excess slack in the tourniquet strap. Users self-evaluated their performance inaccurately and demonstrated a confidence-competence mismatch. These pitfalls in performance may help tourniquet instructors improve training of caregivers.


caregivers; education; emergency medical services; first aid; hemorrhage; prevention and control; tactical; tourniquet

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