Using the ABCDE approach to assess the deteriorating patient
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Using the ABCDE approach to assess the deteriorating patient

Duncan Smith Lecturer, Adult nursing, Division of Nursing, School of Health Sciences, City University, London, England
Tracey Bowden Senior lecturer, Cardiac care, Division of Nursing, School of Health Sciences, City University, London, England

Patients who deteriorate without recognition or timely interventions are at risk of critical care admission and increased morbidity or mortality. This article outlines the systematic ABCDE (airway, breathing, circulation, disability, exposure) approach to patient assessment, which enables healthcare practitioners to identify and respond to life-threatening conditions in order of priority. The patient’s vital signs should be measured as part of the ABCDE assessment and recorded using a track and trigger tool to enhance recognition of physiological abnormalities that signal deterioration. To optimise communication and escalation of deteriorating patients, healthcare practitioners should report ABCDE assessment findings using a structured communication tool.

Correspondence Duncan.Smith.1@city.ac.uk

Nursing Standard. 32, 14,51-63. doi: 10.7748/ns.2017.e11030

Received: 28 September 2017

Accepted: 16 October 2017

Published in print: 29 November 2017

Peer review

This article has been subject to external double-blind peer review and checked for plagiarism using automated software

Conflict Of Interest

None declared