1. What is the first thing medical professionals tend to do when you go to the doctor's office, whether you are sick, injured, or simply receiving an annual physical? They take your vital signs, of course. Have you ever considered what your vital signs tell the doctor? Vital signs are body characteristics that can be measured quickly. They provide important information about major body systems. This information is particularly important to obtain and quickly interpret when patients are experiencing severe trauma. Watch the video clip below and learn to take the following vital signs:
- Body temperature
- Pulse rate
- Blood pressure
- Respiratory rate
(I chose to embed the video clip instead of linking it - this will allow students to stay on this page as much as possible and not get distracted. It took me a little while how to figure out how to do this, but I think it makes it look much cleaner and professional.)
Now that you have seen how to take vital signs, click on this link for the University of Virginia Health System to learn what vital signs tell doctors and nurses about their patients (and a little more detail about how to take vital signs).
2. Emergency room doctors and nurses not only need to be able to work in groups, but they need to be able to work independently - would you feel comfortable if your doctor kept leaving the room to ask for help? Your team will eventually split up the patients evenly.
3. Use the information in your packet titled Patients' Vital Signs - Preliminary Information, along with the information from the EMS Quick Reference website to rank each of your patients' vital signs as "Normal", "Serious", or "Critical". Record responses on your Hospital Triage Data Sheet (this is your patients' "Medical Chart" and can also be found in your packet). The website lists the "Normal" range for each vital sign. Consider the data "Serious" if it is slightly out of the "Normal" range, and "Critical" if it is far beyond the "Normal" range - this is your opinion as the doctor!
EMS Quick Reference - guide to "Normal" vital signs
4. As the nurses are working on the vital signs, you need to begin thinking about what may be wrong with your patients. Study the Patients' Vital Signs - Preliminary Information sheet, specifically the information about what happened to your patients. Think about what body systems are being injured in each case.
5. Fill out the column on your Hospital Triage Data Sheet that asks you to identify the "Disrupted Body Systems". Make logical inferences about what is wrong with your patients. Base your decisions on the given data and your knowledge of the respiratory system, circulatory system, endocrine system, excretory system, nervous system, and skeletal system. You may want to look back at the notes we have taken on these topics. What systems that we have learned about seem to be disrupted in your patients? For each, explain how you came to this conclusion.
As a team...
6. Discuss each of the patients that have come into the emergency room. Your team needs to quickly agree on which patients will be treated first in order to give them all the best chances at survival. You must all agree and rank the patients from #1-7 in the order that you believe they need to be treated to survive. Record this rating on your Hospital Triage Data Sheet.
- Focus on data (discuss vital signs and what is normal)
- Discuss the injuries and what body systems might be disrupted
- Bring up any other reasons that you can think of for treating or not treating specific patients
7. Now that you have decided who needs to be treated immediately, switch charts (Hospital Triage Data Sheet) with another medical staff member on your team. Pretend that the other doctors are too busy to deal with more patients. You are now responsible for attempting to diagnose their patients and they are responsible for diagnosing your patients. Use the interactive MyElectronicMD website along with the information you and your team have uncovered to assist in diagnosing your patients.
Interactive MyElectronicMD website
The website is simple to use:
- Click on "Male" or "Female" depending on the patient you are going to diagnose.
- Either click on a part of the body disrupted (the head for a headache, the chest for a heart problem, etc.) or click on "other symptoms" to choose from a list .
- Scan through the options given by the website and make a selection based on all symptoms and vital signs that you are aware of.
- Record the list of "Possible diseases" in a Microsoft Word document along with the patients' names. Your group will use this information to create a press conference.
8. Now you will need to learn a little about how your patients' medical issues can be treated. Use any or all of the following websites to learn about the diseases or situations you have diagnosed. You will need to record basic information about how the problems are taken care of by a doctor. Place this information on the Microsoft Word document that you began in step #6. The final step of this scenario will involve your team holding a press conference that both defends your triage selections and explains what the next steps will be in treating the patients. Websites that discuss medical disorders and possible treatments:
Basic First Aid (pay special attention to the ABCs of first aid)
As a group...
9. Create a 10-15 minute presentation in the style of a press conference. All staff members on your team must present their findings during this press conference. One nurse should present information they learned about patient vital signs, one doctor should present information about diagnoses, and the remaining doctor and nurse must present possible treatments plans for your patients and defend the "priority for treatment" order. You will conclude the press conference by detailing your diagnoses and possible treatment plans for each patient. The other members of the class (the press) will ask questions about your decisions, so be prepared! Make sure to bring your patient's charts (Hospital Triage Data Sheet) and any other images, graphs, or information that can be used to express your opinions!