b. The chief complaint is the major signs, symptoms, or events that caused the
illness or injury. Symptoms are conditions that the patient feels and tells you about,
such as dizziness or particular pain. Symptoms are the subjective information you
obtain from you patients. Signs can be seen, heard, felt, smelled, or measured, such as
wounds, external bleeding, deformities, breathing rate, and pulse. You must be able to
record and report how and when the signs and symptoms began.
c. Initial assessment is a rapid evaluation of the patient's general condition to
identify any potentially life-threatening injuries or conditions.
Repeated vital signs will be compared to the baseline set.
(2) Vital signs are key indicators used to evaluate and determine the
patient's overall condition. Because key indicators include quantitative (numeric)
measurement, vital signs always include breathing, pulse, and the blood pressure.
(a) The first vital sign is breathing. Breathing is discussed in Lesson 4.
(b) The second vital sign is the pulse. The pulse is discussed in
(c) The third vital sign is the blood pressure. Blood presser is
discussed in Lesson 5.
Other key indicators include:
1 Skin temperature and condition in adults.
2 Capillary refill time (in children).
3 Pupillary response.
4 Level of consciousness (LOC).
ASSESSING THE SKIN
The skin is an easily observed indicator of the peripheral circulation and
perfusion, blood oxygen levels, and body temperature. The skin color, temperature,
and condition are good indicators of the patient's condition and circulatory status. They
may also be good initial indicators of heat or cold injuries. This initial indicator should
always be confirmed, when time permits, with a core body temperature (see Lesson 2).