5 tips for assessing patients

Keith Brofsky | Photodisc | Thinkstock

Most nurses take assessing patients for granted. We think that if we just follow the PQRST, we will be good. Well, for the most part this may be correct but here are some tips to help you always perform your best, top notch assessments.



1. Begin with the basics and when trouble starts, always start with the ABC’s again. Airway, breathing, circulation.

2. If your patient is altered, check the oxygen and the glucose.

3. Always use a system when assessing your patients. Always. The day you deviate from your routine is the day you miss something really, really important.

4. As soon as you take report on a patient, check the ID band, the fluids, the IV, etc. When your name goes on the patient, now everything is your responsibility. When possible, give report at the bedside so you can avoid these things.

5. When at a loss for words, ask the patient, “Tell me more about that.” Open-ended questions are SO helpful in getting the most out of your patient.

What are some of your tips for assessing patients?

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Rebekah Child

Rebekah Child attended the University of Southern California for her bachelor's in nursing and decided to brave the academic waters and return for her master's in nursing education, graduating in 2003 from Mount St. Mary's. Rebekah has also taught nursing clinical and theory at numerous Southern California nursing schools and has been an emergency nurse since 2002. She is currently one of the clinical educators for an emergency department in Southern California and a student (again!) in the doctoral program at the University of California, Los Angeles.

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