Reality Training: Patient in respiratory distress
Greg Friese, EMS1 Editor-in-Chief
What are the causes of the patient’s distress and what treatments are indicated?
The incident: Patient short of breath
What happened: On a warm spring afternoon you are called for a 57-year-old that is short of breath. You and your partner enter a small, tidy home and find your patient seated on the edge of a chair in a kitchen.
Watch this iSimulate video of the patient’s ECG, SPO2, and ETCO2.
Discussion points: assessment and treatment of respiratory distress
As you watch the video ask yourself or discuss with your partner, company or squad the following questions:
- Is your patient stable or not stable?
- What are your immediate treatment actions?
- What are additional associated signs or pertinent negatives you might expect to see in this patient or learn from the patient’s history?
- What is a common term for the capnograph you are seeing? Why does it have this appearance?
- When the patient’s condition worsens how does the treatment plan change?
- What additional information do you want for this patient?
There are many causes of respiratory distress. The ‘sharkfin’ waveform is associated with asthma and is the result of bronchoconstriction in the lower airways. Interventions for this patient should focus on improving ventilation and oxygenation with the tools and training available to you.
Share your assessments and treatment plan in the comments and review these articles to learn more about capnography, respiratory distress assessment, and asthma.
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