Patient assessment tools, techniques, checklists and infographics. Designed for the prehospital environment for use by event medics. Content updated regularly with the latest content always posted on our Facebook group first.

 
 
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QUICK REFERENCE PAM

Download the single page quick reference guide to the patient assessment model.

Ideal for refreshing your memory or as a study aid. Can also be used in classrooms for practice.

See the full Patient Assessment Model PDF for the full explanation.

Download the Quick Reference PAM PDF.


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PATIENT ASSESSMENT MODEL

The Patient Assessment Model (PAM) is a proven technique for rapid, efficient review of patient conditions, illnesses and injuries in a pre-hospital environment.

This is a multipage step by step guide covering scene survey, primary survey and complete secondary survey with detailed head to toe examination points and questions.

Download the Patient Assessment Model PDF.


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NORMAL VITAL SIGNS

Quick reference guide to vital signs. This guide shows both Normal Pediatric Vital Signs for all ages through to and including Normal Adult Vital Signs.

Download the Normal Pediatric and Adult Vital Signs PDF.


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AVPU

Rapid level of consciousness assessment tool for use in the primary survey.

Alert - Verbal - Pain - Unresponsive

Download the AVPU PDF.


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GLASGOW COMA SCALE (Adult & Pediatric)

Secondary survey Level Of Consciousness assessment chart for both adults and pediatrics.

GCS helps assess brain injuries and overall patient consciousness. 

Download the GCS PDF.


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APGAR

Check on the health of a newborn baby using the APGAR rating scale. APGAR is a scoring system best employed within the first 5 minutes of birth.

Remember, APGAR is a general indication of overall health only. Manage the newborn based on the signs and symptoms present.

Download the APGAR PDF.


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ANATOMICAL DIRECTIONS

Left/Right: the patient's left/right

Anterior/Ventral: front, or towards the patient's front
Posterior/Dorsal: back, or towards the rear of the patient

Cephalad: towards the head
Caudad: towards the tail (tailbone/base of spine)

Superior: above something
Inferior: below something

Medial: towards the midline
Lateral: away from the midline

Proximal: nearer the centre of the body
Distal: away from the centre of the body

Forearm and hand:
Radial = thumb side (lateral).
Ulnar = pinky finger side (medial).

Foot:
Dorsal = top side.
Plantar surface = bottom of the foot.

Anatomical Directions PDF.


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PEDIATRIC ASSESSMENT TRIANGLE

Rapid assessment tool for pediatric acuity and triaging pre-hospital.
Is the child in respiratory distress, respiratory failure, or shock?
Note the acronym TICLS

Download Pediatric Assessment Triangle PDF.


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MEDICAL ABBREVIATIONS & TERMINOLOGY

Originally created in British Columbia, Canada, this document may have some regional biases. Please feel free to comment and it will be updated to be more globally relevant. It's a living document.

Download Common Abbreviations & Terminology PDF.


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RESPIRATORY PATTERNS

Identify the causes behind different breathing patterns.

This chart shows respiratory waveforms based on inspiratory and expiratory patterns for medical and traumatic causes.

Download Respiratory Patterns PDF.


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SHORTNESS OF BREATH CAUSES

Develop your differential diagnosis for SOB and breathlessness by thinking about the anatomy first. Start with the lungs and work your way outwards. Consider other areas that may be impacting the breathing such as the brain, heart, and vessels.

Download Shortness of Breath Causes & Differential Diagnosis PDF.


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SIGNS & SYMPTOMS OF SHOCK

Learn the key signs and symptoms of six categories of shock:

  1. Anaphylactic
  2. Cardiogenic
  3. Hypovolemic
  4. Obstructive
  5. Neurogenic
  6. Septic

Download Signs & Symptoms of Shock PDF.


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CAUSES OF SYNCOPE

Fainting and temporary loss of consciousness can be a sign of a serious medical emergency... or not.

Use this infographic to help work through differential diagnosis for syncopal episodes.

Download Causes of Syncope PDF.


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CAUSES OF ALTERED MENTAL STATUS

AEIOU TRIPS - a detailed list of differentials to consider for patients with altered mental status. From confusion and disorientation through to completely unresponsive, work through this list of medical and traumatic causes to rule in or out possible causes.

Download Causes of Altered Mental Status PDF.


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SIX DEADLY CAUSES OF CHEST PAIN

PETMAC
Six deadly causes of chest pain:

1. Pulmonary Embolism
2. Esophageal Rupture
3. Tension Pneumothorax
4. Myocardial infarction
5. Aortic dissection
6. Cardiac Tamponade


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BECK'S TRIAD

Acute cardiac tamponade - three distinct 'D' signs indicating a fluid build up around the heart and a decrease in cardiac function.

  1. Distant heart sounds
  2. Distended jugular veins
  3. Decreased blood pressure

Download Beck's Triad PDF.


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CUSHING'S TRIAD

The body's ability to compensate from brain swelling cascades a spiral dive with increased systolic blood pressure, bradycardia and bradypnea.

Download Cushing's Triad PDF.

 


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TRAUMA TRIAD OF DEATH

After a serious traumatic injury, a patient may experience a combination of hypothermia, acidosis and coagulopathy resulting in a positive feedback loop leading to mortality.

Download Trauma Triad of Death PDF.


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OPIOID OVERDOSE TRIAD

Remember the acronymn CPR for the three signs of an opioid overdose such as heroin, fentanyl, or oxycodone (to name just a few).

  1. Consciousness Decreased
  2. Pinpoint Pupils
  3. Respiratory Depression

Download Opioid Overdose Triad PDF.

 


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ABDOMINAL REGIONS

Identify patient complaints by region. Right Hypochondriac Region, Left Hypochondriac Region, Epigastric Region, Right Lumbar Region, Right Iliac Region, Left Lumbar Region, Left Iliac Region, Hypogastric
Region, and Umbilical Region.

This is a more precise method of identify abdominal areas compared with quadrants.

Abdominal Regions PDF.


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ABDOMINAL PAIN BY REGION

Identify medical complaints by the region pain is felt.

Abdominal Pain by Region PDF.


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FAST SIGNS OF STROKE (FOR MEDICS)

Know the signs of stroke. Learn the FAST mnemonic for medics (it’s a bit different from the layperson).

FACE
Look at the patient square on and ask them to smile. Is everything equal or is there any drooping, drooling or uneven smile?

ARMS
Ask the patient to extend their arms out in front at shoulder height, palms up. Have them close their eyes and hold their arms in position for 15-20 seconds. Assess for arm drift.

SPEECH
Ask the patient to repeat a sentence to determine if they are able to speak without difficulty or slurring.

TIME
When did the symptoms start? Determine when was the last time the patient was confirmed as symptom-free. Determining if this was sudden, gradual or if any symptoms have resolved over time are also key findings to be recorded and reported.

One of the most important diagnostic steps with a suspected stroke patient is to check their blood glucose level. If the patient had a previous stroke, low blood sugars can manifest with similar symptoms. This can also occur in patients who have no stroke history and someone can also be suffering a stroke and hypoglycemia!

FAST for Medics PDF.


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ANATOMY OF THE HAND (EXTERIOR)

Use this guide to identify key areas of the hand to enable more accurate reporting of hand injuries, deficits and treatments.

Anatomy of the Hand PDF.


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BODY TEMPERATURES

How hot is too hot? How cold can you get?

Learn about the signs and symptoms patients can exhibit based on changes to their core body temperature.

Body Temperatures PDF.


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HEADACHES

Learn the names associated with the different types of headaches.

Headaches PDF.


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SPRAIN, STRAIN OR FRACTURE

How do you tell if a patient has sustained a sprain, strain or fracture?

Sprains are ligament related, strains are muscle or tendon related, and fractures are bone related.

Sprains typically occur at the site of a joint where a ligament is torn or stretched. Think of ankles or wrists.

Strains are usually located away from a joint and relate to the muscle or the tendon holding a muscle to a bone becoming damaged. Think of leg muscles or backs.

Fractures are when a bone is damaged. There may be deformity or poor circulation beyond the fracture. The pain is localized to the actual bone especially when touched.

It can be hard to tell the difference and sometimes the pre-hospital care doesn't require a definitive diagnosis but fractures must be immobilized to prevent further damage and can become life or limb threatening.

Sprain, Strain or Fracture PDF.