Monday, October 28, 2013

Bleeding a Victim to Death--Intentional Hemorrhage

I have a kidnapper that wants to slowly bleed his victim to death. How long will it take, and how much blood loss (the villain is collecting the blood in a jar).

First, let’s consider how much blood the average adult has. Ten to twelve units, or pints. A substantial portion will have to be lost to kill a healthy adult.

Second, the rate of blood loss is important—acute versus chronic.

When lost slowly (chronic), the blood count can drop to half normal and the individual may still be upright and walking around. This is something that happens over weeks to months, like with an ulcer in the stomach.

The proposed scenario is acute—rapid loss of blood—otherwise known as hemorrhage. The speed at which the blood is lost will depend on what’s bleeding and how. If it’s an artery, the blood loss will be faster; the flow is under pressure. With a vein, the loss is slower. There is a chance of clotting off whatever you’re using to extract the blood. An IV line in a vein in the arm is likely to clot off, and not yield much blood flow before this happens.

Sticking a large IV line in the carotid artery (in the neck) would give rise to a lot of blood loss; the velocity (due to the pressure) helps prevent clotting.

Loss of forty percent of the blood volume is usually fatal, so four to four-and-a-half units. The collection jar will need to hold that much if all the blood is to be collected. Consider using an IV line in the carotid artery, and have the line attach to a vacuum jar. The suction accelerates the blood loss, it has markings on it for volume collected, and it keeps the area clean. Four units can be extracted perhaps as rapidly as fifteen minutes.

With regard to the victim, if the blood loss proceeds over hours, he/she may experience racing heart, shortness of breath, dizziness, and tingling in the extremities. Upright posture is poorly tolerated and may lead to fainting. As the blood loss approaches forty percent, the victim may feel cold and anxious, or may become sleepy. With continued blood loss, the patient will go into cardiac arrest and die due to lack of volume in the vascular system (hypovolemic shock).

Good luck!

Questions? Comments?
Kelly has worked in the medical field for over twenty years, mainly at large medical centers. With experience in a variety of settings, chances are Kelly may have seen it.
Sometimes truth seems stranger than fiction in medicine, but accurate medicine in fiction is fabulous.

Find Kelly’s fiction at



No comments:

Post a Comment