Serial killers: Altered mental status

In this episode learn the 5 diagnoses for altered mental status that can kill your patient emergently


Our serial killers series focuses on those conditions which are deadly when missed. That’s where we, as emergency providers, must begin. Today, we’re going to focus on the altered patient.

Always approach altered mental status patients considering the killer 5 diagnoses first. When you respond to a patient with altered mental status, what things can kill them emergently?

  1. Stroke (ischemic vs. hemorrhagic)
  2. Seizure
  3. Infection – meningitis/encephalitis vs. sepsis
  4. Endocrine/hypoglycemia
  5. Tox (exposures vs. intoxication)

Listen as we explore the top 5 killer diagnoses for patients with altered mental status, and learn more about:

  • Exposing the patient: look for fentanyl patches/cellulitis/ulcers
  • Early fluids and pressors in sepsis management
  • Lateral tongue lesions
  • The 5 Ds of posterior stroke
  • Tramadol in seizure patients

Listen next: Serial killers: Shortness of breath

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