We eliminated tourniquets from ambulances because of anecdotes and some strong opinions, but not because of valid research. Valid research shows that tourniquets work. Tourniquets are back.
We added traction splints because of anecdotes and some strong opinions, but not because of any valid research. Will research result in the same reversal of opinion-based practice.
With so little evidence, devices that are frequently misused, and no apparent need for these Rube Goldberg devices, should we continue to use traction splints?
Does a traction splint work?
That depends on what we mean by the word work. If work means that it pulls on the leg, then it does work, but if work means that it improves outcomes, then the traction splint is about as effective as eye of newt. Maybe the eye of newt is more effective.
If your have a lot of patients who have no other major injuries, then you may be able to set up a study of traction splints. A ski resort might be a good place for a study. On the other hand, if you are not an isolated femur fracture magnet, then your patients would probably be much better off if you focused on pain management, rather than pulling on their broken bones.
The fact is, there were no definitive studies demonstrating efficacy or decreased morbidity or mortality from prehospital use of traction splints 10 years ago, nor are there any now.3 So our use of traction splints is purely anecdotal.
What is an anecdote?
An anecdote is misinformation from a know-it-all who doesn’t know what matters.
Anecdotes are just rumors. We believe some things because we want to believe, not because they are true. If we want to know the truth, we look for unbiased information. Unbiased information is the opposite of anecdotes and rumors.
There I was, standing on the corner, minding my own business, when all of a sudden . . .
He was dying and we gave the special sauce and he got better and ran a marathon last year.
These are examples of anecdotes. Anecdotes are what sells alternative medicine.