The Paramedic Gastrointestinal Exam


This is a quick summary of the minimum physical exam that is appropriate for a non-traumatic patient complaining primarily of a gastrointestinal nature (vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain).  For full details of the exam items listed below, and for links to other focused physical exams, go here.

Head and Neck Exam

  1. Assess for facial and cranial lesions (DCAP-BTLS)

  2. Assess if pupils are equal and reactive to light (PEARL)

  3. Assess pupils for midline, conjugate gaze

  4. Assess pupils for nystagmus

  5. Assess mucous membranes for moistness and colour

  6. Assess for JVD

Chest Exam

  1. Assess chest wall respiratory movement

Respiratory Exam

  1. A   Assess for Accessory muscle use

  2. B   Assess Breath sounds

  3. C   Assess Colour and condition of skin

  4. D   Assess word Dyspnea

  5. E   Assess for Extending position

  6. F   Assess SpO2 using Finger probe

  7. G   Assess end tidal CO2 Gas values and waveforms

  8. H   Heart Rate

  9. I   Assess the inspiratory/expiratory ratio (“i/e ratio”)

Abdominal Exam

  1. Assess for lesions (DCAP-BTLS)

  2. Assess for shape

  3. Assess for abdominal cough tenderness

  4. Assess for softness / guarding

  5. Assess for colour and temperature

  6. Assess for ascities/obesity

  7. Assess for abnormal pulsatile masses

  8. Assess for appliances

  9. Assess for scars

  10. Assess for abdominojugular reflux

  11. Bowel sounds

Pelvic Exam

  1. Assess for urinary and fecal incontinence

Extremity Exam

  1. Assess for tremors or ataxia

  2. Assess for edema

  3. Assess for skin turgor

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