OPQRST Taking a SAMPLE History and OPQRST Pain Assessment

OPQRST Taking a SAMPLE History and OPQRST Pain Assessment

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Home EMS Tips OPQRST: A Mnemonic for Pain Assessment
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OPQRST: A Mnemonic for Pain Assessment

By

Greg Friese

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    A reader asked, “What is OPQRST?” 

    OPQRST is mneomic for pain assessment.

    Onset – Did the pain start suddenly or gradually get worse and worse?

    Provokes/Palliates – Does anything make the pain better or worse?

    Quality – What does the pain feel like?

    Radiates – Point to where it hurts the most. Does the pain go anywhere from there?

    Severity – How would you rate your pain on a scale of 0 to 10?

    Time – How long have you had the pain?

    Remember OPQRST starts a conversation. Don’t limit yourself to just six questions. Be a detective and dig in as needed. 

    Read more about adding associated signs or pertinent negatives  to the OPQRST and the importance of asking lots of questions in two EMS1.com articles.

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    Greg Friese, Editor-in-Chief

    From the Editor

    with Greg Friese, Editor-in-Chief

    How to use OPQRST as an effective patient assessment tool


    Updated February 3, 2015

    OPQRST is an important part of patient assessment and the start of a conversation; not the end

    OPQRST is a useful mnemonic (memory device) for learning about your patient’s pain complaint. It is a conversation starter between you, the investigator, and the patient, your research subject. Here are some suggestions on how to approach using OPQRST as an assessment tool:

    Related tip

    • Assess patient’s complaints for associated signs or pertinent negatives

    Related articles

    • Patient Assessment: Tips from the Field for New Providers

    • Practicing patient assessment

    • Onset: “Did your pain start suddenly or gradually get worse and worse?” This is also a chance to ask, “What were you doing when the pain started?”
    • Provokes or Palliates: Instead of asking, “What provokes your pain?” use real, casual words. Try, “What makes your pain better or worse?”
    • Quality: Asking, “Is your pain sharp or dull?” limits your patient to two choices, when their pain might not be either. Instead ask, “What words would you use to describe your pain?” or “What does your pain feel like?”
    • Radiates: This is another chance to use real, conversational words during assessment. Asking, “Does your pain radiate?” sounds silly and pompous to the patient. Instead use this question, “Point to where it hurts the most. Where does your pain go from there?”
    • Severity: Remember, pain is subjective and relative to each individual patient you treat. Have an open mind for any response from 0 to 10.
    • Time: This is a reference to when the pain started or how long ago it started.

    Use OPQRST wisely to get plentiful and useful clues.

    This is also an opportune time to invesitage for associated signs and pertinent negatives .

    What are your successful OPQRST tricks? Share them in the comments section.

    About the author

    Greg Friese, MS, NRP, is Editor-in-Chief of EMS1.com . He is an educator, author, paramedic, and marathon runner. Greg is a two-time Jesse H. Neal award winner and 2018 Eddie Award winner for best Column/Blog. Ask questions or submit tip ideas to Greg by emailing him at [email protected]

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    You are here: Home / Resources / Acronyms / OPQRST

    OPQRST

    by 3 Comments

    OPQRST is used for the history taking section of patient assessments.

    OOnset

    • What was the patient doing when the signs and symptoms first occurred? Was the onset sudden or gradual?
    PProvocation / Palliation

    • Is there anything that makes the symptom better or worse?
    QQuality

    • Description of what the patient is feeling. For example, the pain can be described as dull, sharp, crushing, aching, tearing, throbbing, etc.
    RRegion / Radiation

    • Where is the pain located and does it move to another part of the body?
    SSeverity

    • How severe is the symptom based on a scale of 1 to 10?
    TTime

    • When did the signs and symptoms first occur?

    Comments

    1. Thanks. Good way to remember.

      Reply
    2. Thank you for the clarification. It’s pretty hard to remember all if these acronyms.

      Reply
    3. Awesome I skipped my 1st few chapters in my emt book this bad boy comes in handy

      Reply

    Leave a Reply Cancel reply

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