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April 7, 2011

I entered the world of firefighting in the fall of 1978. Two years later I added Emergency Medical Technician EMT to my resume. The teacher for that training was an incredible woman by the name Aggie Weigel.

Aggie taught me many things about emergency care, but by far the most important was how to conduct a patient assessment. She used a storytelling method for teaching patient assessment – a lesson that I’ll later explain how to use in everyday life.

Aggie taught that the first step in assessing a patient was getting the history of the present illness/injury HPI. What is the patient’s chief complaint? And, what are the factors leading up to the call for help?

The next step involves gathering information about the patient’s past medical history PMH. This gives you a background for anything that might affect the patient’s current problem.

Step three is the patient exam PE. What do you observe, hear, feel, smell, and what are the answers to your questions?

And, the assessment ends, as well as the story, with what you do with what you discovered – the treatment TX.

Put it all together and you have a systematic method of caring for a patient – and a story to tell afterwards when it’s time to write your report.

This brings me to the point that I promised – how Aggie’s teaching can be used in everyday life. Let me explain.

What person doesn’t have something difficult going on in their life? If you know the HPI, won’t you be a better friend, co-worker, or boss? But, it doesn’t stop there.

It’s also important to know about any PMH. You can’t erase an old scar, but sometimes knowing what caused that scar can lead to a better understanding of why a person does what they do.

A PE sounds a bit intrusive, but it doesn’t have to be. Watching, listening, and asking a few questions will seem more like caring, which is exactly what it is.

Figuring out the TX is a breeze once you’ve done a great assessment. You’ll be much more likely to know if the patient needs a night out with dinner and a movie, or the opposite – a night alone without the kids, relaxing under a warm blanket.

Everyone you encounter receives some sort of treatment from you. Do a great job with your assessment and you’ll provide great treatment.

HPI – PMH – PE – TX – Thanks Aggie

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