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The treatment of critically ill patients has advanced markedly over the last decade. However, non-surgical bleeding of a diffuse nature from numerous tiny capillaries still remains a challenge. Once initiated, this type of bleeding may be troublesome and a vicious circle develops since it is not a single vessel contributing to this blood loss. The description 'non-surgical blood loss' is often given to this. This review describes a step-by-step approach for the treatment of non-surgical bleeding and includes various measures, such as desmopressin, blood components, antifibrinolytics, antithrombin III, prothrombin complex concentrates and factor XIII. While most non-surgical bleedings can be managed using the approach described here, a number of patients still continue to bleed. In these cases, the surgeon should re-evaluate the bleeding in terms of its surgical origin. If this can positively be excluded and if all of measures described fail to reduce or stop the bleeding, further treatment of such uncontrolled bleeding remains symptomatic.