Emergency Presentations – Common Causes

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A useful approach to considering the causes of any disease is the Surgical Sieve

But in acute medicine most processes which kill or maim are limited to the following processes

For MOST patients presenting with acute symptoms it is worthwhile routinely asking about recent precipitants and underlying risks

The Chronology of the Symptoms also give a clue which process is likely occurring

  • Vascular – secs-minutes
  • Trauma – immediate (unless chronic repetitive)
  • Toxic – minutes to hours (depending on exposure route)
  • Metabolic – hours to days
  • Infection  – hours-days

One last consideration is if the patient has recently become pregnant as the cause of new or unexplained symptoms

The above don’t include some Acute Psychosocial Stressors that may precipitate a person to seek medical attention

During your routine assessment it is useful to complete it with a review of Red Flags suggesting these possibilities

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