How To Assess a Deteriorating / Critically Ill Patient (ABCDE Assessment)

24m of CPD
Patients admitted to hospital expect to feel confident that should their health deteriorate, they are in the best, safest place for prompt and efficient treatment. This article will discuss how to assess a deteriorating/critically ill patient using the ABCDE (airway, breathing, circulation, disability and exposure) systematic approach.

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What is this article about?

The ABCDE approach is intended as a rapid bedside assessment of a deteriorating/critically ill patient. It’s designed to provide initial management of life-threatening conditions in order of priority, using a structured method to keep the patient alive and to achieve the first steps to improvement, rather than making a definitive diagnosis.


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Meet the educator

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Lydia Nabwami
Lydia Nabwami is registered nurse who has worked in various healthcare settings including cardiac ward, cardiac critical care unit (ITU), general ITU, A&E department, nursing homes and community nursing. She uses her experience as a RN to write well-researched content that helps to attract and motivate audiences. Lydia is also a freelance writer for hire with specialisation in health writing and has helped numerous companies with their content needs. Her work has appeared on sites such as Caring Village, Reachout, Lisa Nelson RD and more. When she isn’t writing, you can find her listening to motivational speeches, keeping active or playing with her two daughters. Contact Lydia or visit her website at for more information on her services.
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What do others think?

4561 reviews by Ausmed Learners
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Cara Cara
31 Mar 2020
Good simple break down of procedures
Simrat Randhawa
26 Mar 2020
This resource is very informative and visual aids refresh my existing skills and knowledge.
Gursimranjot Singh
31 May 2020
Very informative
Arian Moran
24 May 2023
Great Reasource
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Angela Risstrom
16 Oct 2023
Registered Nurse
a good refresher
Leonie McMahon
16 Jun 2021
Will presented. And easy to follow.
Robert Compassi
19 Nov 2021
As a new grad RN this was a helpful online learning, which allowed me to reinforce my knowledge of how to perform and A to E assessment.
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Debbie Parry
25 Mar 2020
Ausmed is a great way to review new and old practices
Nga nguyen
09 Apr 2023
Good topic
Alison Wright
21 Apr 2023
Very good reading.
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