Primary assessment

This consists of a rapid "physiological" examination to identify immediately life-threatening emergencies. It should be completed in less than a minute. It is prioritised as shown in the box.

Airway

Breathing

Circulation

Disability (nervous system) Exposure

From the respiratory viewpoint, do the following:

• Look, listen and feel for airway obstruction, respiratory arrest, depression, or distress.

• Assess the effort of breathing.

• Count the respiratory rate.

• Listen for stridor and/or wheeze.

• Auscultate for breath sounds.

If a significant problem is identified, management should be started immediately. After appropriate interventions have been performed, primary assessment can be resumed or repeated.

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