By: Fiona Chen, Captain, 2015-2016
As EMTs we do not provide official diagnoses for our patients; however, it is still important to differentiate between call types. In this spirit, each semester I’ll present a short scenario and either ask you to provide a treatment plan or tell me what’s wrong. So, without further ado…
You are dispatched to a residence hall for a 21-year-old female patient with altered mental status. You arrive on scene to a hoard of concerned bystanders and the patient seated on her bed, leaning against the wall. Bystanders report that the patient complained of a sudden headache followed by weakness on the left side of her body. The patient has signs of dysarthria, or slurred speech, but is responding appropriately to your questions. Other than the headache, your patient says she feels “fine,” and seems oblivious to her other symptoms.
Your patient has no known drug or food allergies and is not currently taking any medications. She has a history of hypertension, but no other pertinent medical or family history. After taking a set of vital signs, you note that her respirations were 14 breaths per minute with bilaterally clear lung sounds; her pulse was 82 beats per minute, strong and regular; her blood pressure was 148/82. Her pupils were equal, round, and reactive to light. Her skin was unremarkable. Following the set of vitals, your patient insists that she does not want to go to the hospital.
After some consideration, you ask the patient to do a few simple actions. Based on her performance, you have her transferred immediately to the hospital. She is taken into emergency surgery.
What was wrong with this patient? Send your thoughts to email@example.com.