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Shock (cont.)

Shock Diagnosis

The approach to the patient in shock requires that treatment occur at the same time as the diagnosis occurs. The source of the underlying disease needs to be found. Sometimes it is obvious, for example, a trauma victim bleeding from a wound. Other times, the diagnosis is elusive. The type of tests will depend upon the underlying condition.

The diagnosis is most often found through the medical history. A thorough physical examination will be undertaken and the patients vital signs monitored.

  • Patient vital signs monitored might include continual blood pressure and heart rate monitoring, and oxygen measurement. Special catheters may be inserted into the large veins in the neck, chest, arm, or groin and threaded near the heart or into the pulmonary artery, to measure pressures close to the heart, which may be a better indicator of the body's fluid status. Other catheters may be inserted into arteries (arterial lines) to measure blood pressures more directly. Tubes may be placed in the bladder (Foley catheter) to measure urine output.
  • Blood laboratory tests will be performed (the type dependent on the underlying disease or condition).
  • Radiologic tests may be performed dependent on the underlying illness.

Shock Self-Care at Home

If you come upon a person in shock, the initial response should be to call 911 and activate the emergency response system. Self-care at home is not appropriate.

Lay the person down in a safe place and try to keep them warm and comfortable.

If the patient is not awake, is not breathing, and has no heartbeat, it is appropriate to start chest compressions following the American Heart Association guidelines. It is important to send someone to get an AED if one is available.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/24/2016

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Shock, Distributive »

Shock is defined as a clinical syndrome due to inadequate tissue perfusion that results in end-organ dysfunction.

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