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Medical Emergencies

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Emergencies, Falls and Fire Safety

Medical Emergencies

Medical Emergencies

As a care worker – if you are faced with a medical emergency, it is vital that you know how react with your client’s best interests at heart. If you have first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) training, you may be able to provide assistance.

This unit will examine a range of injuries or medical emergencies that you may encounter while working with a client.

It will provide you with a description of the symptoms of the injury or emergency and describe the recommended first aid technique.

Figure 1. Care workers need to be able to deal with medical emergencies

Anaphylaxis

Anaphylaxis results from a is a severe allergic reaction to food or medicine.

When someone experiences anaphylaxis, they usually go into anaphylactic shock.

Symptoms of anaphylactic shock include swelling of the throat, lips and tongue. They also may experience wheezing or respiratory and cardiac arrest. They may also break out in hives.

The recommended action to be taken is to begin CPR and call for emergency medical assistance.

Figure 2. It is important to begin CPR as soon as anaphylactic shock sets in.

Choking

The main symptom of choking is that the individual cannot talk and cough forcefully. Do not do anything if the individual can cough forcefully!

If the individual is not able to talk or cough forcefully then the Heimlich Maneuver (outlined below) must be performed:

If the person is sitting or standing, position yourself behind them and reach your arms around their waist. For a child, you may have to kneel.

Place your fist, thumb side in, just above the person's navel (belly button).
Grasp the fist tightly with your other hand.Make quick, upward and inward thrusts with your fist.

If the person is lying on their back, straddle the person facing the head. Push your grasped fist upward and inward in a movement similar to the one above.

You may need to repeat the procedure several times before the object is dislodged. If repeated attempts do not free the airway, call for emergency assistance. If the person loses consciousness, start CPR.

Diabetic Emergency

The symptoms of a diabetic emergency include hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), slurred speech, uncoordinated movements or changes in behavior or responsiveness.

In the case of a diabetic emergency – action must be taken. If the person is responsive give them sugar, honey, orange juice or a soft drink. If there person is unresponsive squirt sugar (can use tube of cake decorating frosting) inside the mouth.

When person comes to, follow with protein snack.

Figure 3. Jellies are high in sugar and are useful a diabetic emergency

Heat Stroke/ Exhaustion

Heat stroke/ exhaustion can occur when an individual has been left out in the sun for too long. To avoid the occurrence of heat stroke/ exhaustion, ensure that the individual is always covered when out in the sun and never there for too long.

Symptoms of heat stroke/ exhaustion include: Warm, clammy skin, nausea, weakness or an elevated body temperature.

To treat heat stroke/ exhaustion – cool the individual by giving them a cold damp towel, then provide them with fluids and salt.

Figure 4. Ensure that your clients wear sun cream before going outside

Stroke

A stroke is perhaps one of the most serious emergencies that a care worker can encounter with a client. It is vital that a stroke is recognized as soon as possible - failure to do so can have life threatening consequences!

The main symptoms of a stroke include weakness or drooping on one side of the face, or slurred speech.

It is vital to immediately call for emergency assistance and to have the individual seen to within 2 hours of the onset of the symptoms.

A stroke occurs when a blood vessel, which is carrying oxygen to the brain, bursts or is blocked by a clot!

Seizures

When an individual experiences a seizure, it is crucial that it’s duration is timed. If it lasts more than 5 minutes they will need emergency assistance.

There are six types of generalized seizures. The most common and dramatic, and therefore the most well known, is the generalized convulsion.

In this type of seizure, the patient loses consciousness and collapses. The loss of consciousness is followed by body stiffening for 30 to 60 seconds, then by violent jerking for 30 to 60 seconds, after which the patient goes into a deep sleep.

It is also important to clear the area and protect them from injury, place them in the recovery position to ensure that their airway remains clear and open. NEVER restrain them or put anything in their mouth.

Fractures

A fracture occurs when the continuity of a bone is broken. In some occasions, depending on the location of the fracture, it can be worse than a break as it may take longer to heal.

A significant percentage of bone fractures occur because of high force impact or stress; however, a fracture may also be the result of some medical conditions which weaken the bones, for example osteoporosis. The main signs of a fracture are painful movement or joint deformity.

In the event of a fracture, ensure that the damaged area is not moving, then apply support under and around the affected limb with hands and/or clothing. Then call for emergency assistance.

Be sure that you support and protect the area around the fracture, this will reduce further damage!

General Conclusions

If you are providing care to either elderly or disabled patients – you may find yourself in a situation where you are faced by a medical emergency.

In such a situation – the most important thing to do is to remain calm. If you lose your calm you may end up making poor decisions that effect the welfare of your client.

If you are in doubt about what to do – call for emergency support immediately.

END of UNIT

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