Tuesday, 11 October 2011

History Taking - The Socrates Pain Assessment Tool

Anyone who's ever taken a patient's medical history will know that it involves the skill of asking a lot of specific and personal questions. If a patient complains of pain then there are at least 8 questions that should be asked about that symptom alone. Things like the site or location of the pain, the pain's character or description and even the pain's severity need to be explored.

condemned for impiety & corrupting the Athenian youth
Fortunately, the great founding father of western philosophy (love of wisdom) also lends his name to a very handy little learning tool.  The SOCRATES pain assessment mnemonic is a simple way of helping medical history takers remember 8 quick-fire questions that can be asked to any patient in any type of pain.  You name it; abdo pain, lower back pain, cardiac pain, pleuritic pain, this method covers all bases.

So let's take the first letter 'S', which stands for 'Site'.  If the location of the patient's pain isn't perfectly clear from your patients body language, then your first question should be, "where (about) is the pain?", "where does it hurt?" or to be more precise, "where exactly is the pain?". From here you can move on to finding out when the pain started. 'O' stands for 'Onset", so you should lead on with a question such as, "when did the pain start?".

Click for 'Crossword Worksheet'
Click for 'Question Formation' Worksheet

But what about the remaining '...C-R-A-T-E-S?' Well to learn more we have developed free worksheets. Just click on the worksheet images here and you will be directed to google drive where you can download the files for free. The links for the answer sheets are below:

Click here for 'Crossword' answers

Click here for 'Question Formation' answers.

You can watch our history taking video here.