Ten (or so) things that you should try to do with every patient


I am not a perfect medical provider. In fact I’m really only practicing prehospital medicine (Ha ha!) but there are a few things that I try to do with every patient to improve my care for them and improve their comfort level as I care for them. I can’t claim that I always remember to do these things, but I really try to. I think that you should too.

Here they are (in no particular order other than ZIP code):

  1. Always introduce yourself and your partner to the patients and their loved ones using your first name. I wouldn’t want some upstart guy in some uniform type thing just randomly poking at me. I think that it reduces patient anxiety when you properly introduce yourself to your patient. I say “Hi, I’m Chris and I’m a paramedic with F&B Ambulance Service and Taxi Squad. This is my partner Fuzzy McGee. What is your name Sir/Madame?”


  2. When you’re in the back transporting the patient after you’ve given them most of the care you were planning to give them, go over your assessment again. Ask the patient questions that get them to expand on their original answers. Challenge yourself to find anything that you may have missed. 
  3. Play a game with yourself. Try to have the patient diagnosed by the time that you get them to the ER. If you can’t figure it out, fire up the internet when you get back to quarters and look it up. You’ll learn a lot of good medical information by doing this. I have.


  4. Once you get the patient in the back of the ambulance if they’re not facing an immediate “Life-or-Death” crisis ask them “Is there anything I can do to make you more comfortable?” Maybe another pillow or moving the head of the cot up or down would help them. Do it if they ask.


  5. Try not to have the pillow stuffed under the patient’s shoulder blades. It makes it uncomfortable when they’re lying on the cot. Moving the pillow up from under their back and placing it under their heads makes them a lot happier. They won’t know to ask for it. Just do it.


  6. If you find a patient down with an isolated fracture or dislocation get pain meds in their system before you start splinting or packaging them. It does take a bit more time, but you’re not being very humane if you don’t.


  7. You are the patient’s advocate when you walk in to the imposing world of ER care. Your job is to present them to a medical system that is overworked and overtired. Stick up for them and make sure that the medical care providers that are following you learn about what is wrong with the patient before you throw him or her to the wolves… er, um, nurses. I mean nurses.


  8. Before you hand off your patient to the ER, ask them: “Is there anything that I haven’t addressed? Is there anything that you would like me to be sure and tell the ER about?”


  9. Explain to the the patient WHAT you are going to do and WHY you are going to do it.


  10. Approach EMS with a servant’s heart. No matter what some EMTs may think, we are here for the patients. It’s not the other way around.


By trying to do these things you’ll provide better patient care. I think that I’ve grown as an EMS professional by doing these things. I’ve also grown as a person by doing these things. Let me know how this works out for ya.