Learn how to give a complete first aid secondary survey. Includes body exam, SAMPLE history and vital signs
Learn how to give a complete first aid secondary survey.
This post includes how to take and record a patients SAMPLE history and vital signs. It also goes through how to give a full body physical exam and the use of SOAP notes to record your findings.
In a secondary survey, look for injuries unseen during the primary assessment (DRABC).
IMPORTANT: No amount of reading can compare to a medical course with a professional trainer. A standard first aid course is good. A Remote Area First Aid Course or higher is best.
After stabilizing your patient using DRABC, do the first aid secondary assessment. To give a first aid secondary examination means to check your patient from head to toe. Do it in a methodical way so you do not miss anything.
In critical first aid (DRABC), you treat the problems as you find them. With the secondary exam, you complete the full assessment first. Then you treat what you find in order of priority.
SAMPLE History, vital signs, and the full body exam make up the secondary survey steps. A secondary survey should start with whichever is most appropriate for the situation. For example, if the patient is incoherent then taking a SAMPLE History will have to wait.
While doing the secondary assessment of a medical patient, record your findings with SOAP notes. Record your findings of the primary and secondary assessment of a patient. Use the luxury of time during the secondary examination to "catch up on your paperwork".
Recording your findings in first aid is very important. Give the information you find to all caretakers of the patient.
Write the patient’s personal details at the top. Include his/her name, age, sex, birth date, weight, phone number, etc.
There are many SOAAP (SOAP) Note templates on the internet, but a pencil and paper will suffice if that's all you have. Using an actual SOAP note is best. They are like a secondary survey checklist.
The best/easiest way to extract your patient's history is to talk to him. It is important that the patient feels comfortable with you. If not, he/she might be too embarrassed to tell you what may be important information. Ensure them that everything they tell you is confidential and not to leave anything out.
Use the acronym SAMPLE to make sure you do not miss anything.
Assessing and monitoring your patient's vital signs will provide you with important information. It will help you decide on a treatment and then track the effectiveness.
Examine the areas about which the patient has a specific complaint about. Compare any outer physical complaints to the patient's non-injured side.
Check the range of motion, circulation, motor skills, sensation etc. Be very careful about forcing something to move.
Do this in a systematic manner, from head to toe. Use only as much physical pressure as is necessary to discover an injury or lack thereof. Check the whole body for obvious signs of injury, e.g., bruises, bleeding, etc.
A stethoscope, penlight, gloves and tongue depressor will be useful.
The first aid secondary survey will help you diagnose and treat non-immediate medical problems.
Do not underestimate the importance of recording your findings. It will help you organize your thoughts, and is also very important when passing your patient on.
Using a SOAP note will also lessen the chance of missing possible findings in the patient.
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Sam Fury is the creator and owner of the Survival Fitness Plan.
He has had a passion for martial arts and outdoor pursuits since he was a young boy growing up in Australia.
As a young adult he joined the military and studied outdoor leadership in college. After that, to further his skills, Sam started traveling to learn from the best in the world in various fields related to the Survival Fitness Plan including various martial arts in China, SE Asia and Brazil, Parkour in Singapore, Surf Life Saving in Australia, and others.
These days, he still enjoys learning new things, traveling and sharing what he has learned via the Survival Fitness Plan.
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