List of medical mnemonics
This is a list of medical mnemonics, categorized and alphabetized.
Mnemonics with wikipages
- ABC — Airway, Breathing and Circulation
- AEIOU-TIPS — causes of altered mental status
- APGAR — a backronym for Appearance, Pulse, Grimace, Activity, Respiration (used to assess newborn babies)
- ASHICE — Age, Sex, History, Injuries/illness, Condition, ETA/extra information
- FAST — Face, Arms, Speech, Time — stroke symptoms
- Hs and Ts — causes of cardiac arrest
- Is Path Warm? — suicide risk factors
- OPQRST — Onset, Provocation, Quality, Region, Severity, Time — symptom checklist
- RICE — Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation — for sprains and bruises
- RNCHAMPS — mnemonic for the types of shock
- RPM-30-2-Can Do — mnemonic for START triage criteria
- SOCRATES — mnemonic used to evaluate characteristics of pain
- SOAP, a technique for writing medical records
- SLUDGE — Salivation, Lacrimation, Urination, Defecation, Gastric upset, and Emesis (effects of nerve agent or organophosphate poisoning)
Anesthesia machine/room check
Monitors (EKG, SpO2, EtCO2, etc.)
Machine check (according to ASA guidelines)
Airway equipment (ETT, laryngoscope, oral/nasal airway)
Drugs (emergency, inductions, NMBs, etc.)
Endotracheal intubation: diagnosis of poor bilateral breath sounds after intubation
Displaced (usually right mainstem, pyreform fossa, etc.)
Obstruction (kinked or bitten tube, mucous plug, etc.)
Pneumothorax (collapsed lung)
General anaesthesia: equipment check prior to inducing
Suction/ Stylette, bougie
Spinal anesthesia agents
"Little Boys Prefer Toys":
Xylocaine: where not to use with epinephrine
"Ears, Nose, Hose, Fingers and Toes"
- Vasoconstrictive effects of xylocaine with epinephrine are helpful in providing hemostasis while suturing. However, may cause local ischemic necrosis in distal structures such as the digits, tip of nose, penis, ears.
"Digital PEN" - Digits, Penis, ear, nose.
Behavioural science / psychology
Depression: major episode characteristics
"SIG E CAPS":
Interest decreased (anhedonia)
Guilt and/or feelings of worthlessness
Psychomotor agitation or retardation
Gain: primary vs. secondary vs. tertiary
Primary: Patient's Psyche improved.
Secondary: Symptom Sympathy for patient.
Tertiary: Therapist's gain
Kubler-Ross dying process: stages
"'Death Always Brings Great Acceptance":
Middle adolescence (14-17 years): characteristics
Heterosexual crushes/ Homosexual Experience
Education regarding short term benefits
Narcolepsy: symptoms, epidemiology
Attacks of sleep
Paralysis on waking
- Usual presentation is a young male, hence "chap"
Suicide: risk screening
SAD PERSONS scale:
Sex (Male - Completion, Female - Attempt)
Age (Adolescent or Elderly)
Rational thinking loss
Social support problems
Sickness (chronic illness)
Sleep stages: features
DElta waves during DEepest sleep (stages 3 & 4, slow-wave).
dREaM during REM sleep.
Psychogenic: performance anxiety
Libido: decreased with androgen deficiency, drugs
Autonomic neuropathy: impede blood flow redirection
Nitric oxide deficiency: impaired synthesis, decreased blood pressure
Erectile reserve: can't maintain an erection
Male erectile dysfunction (MED): biological causes
Medicines (propranalol, methyldopa, SSRI, etc.)
Premature ejaculation: treatment
Squeezing technique [glans pressure before climax]
More detail with 2 more S's:
Sensate-focus exercises [relieves anxiety]
Stop and start method [5-6 rehearsals of stopping stimulation before climax]
B vitamin names
"The Rhythm Nearly Proved Contagious":
In increasing order:
Essential amino acids
"PVT. TIM HALL always argues, never tires":
- Always argues: the A is for Arg, not Asp.
- 'Never tires': T is not Tyr, but is both Thr and Trp.
Fasting state: branched-chain amino acids used by skeletal muscles
"Muscles LIVe fast":
Fat Soluble Vitamins
Folate deficiency: causes
A FOLIC DROP:
Folic acid antagonists
Low dietary intake
Infection with Giardia
Relative folate deficiency
Glycogen storage: Anderson's (IV) vs. Cori's (III) enzyme defect
- Otherwise, can't really distinguish clinically.
Glycogen storage: names of types I through VI
"Viagra Pills Cause A Major Hardon Tendency":
Acute LVF management
Oxygen (sit patient up)
Pulmonary ventilation (if doing badly)
Atrial fibrillation: causes of new onset
Trauma (cardiac contusion)
Recent surgery (post CABG)
Lone or idiopathic
Fever, anemia, high-output states
Bad valves (mitral stenosis)
Stimulants (cocaine, theo, amphet, caffeine)
Signs/Symptoms of PE (3)
PE is the most Likely diagnosis (3)
Tachycardia >100bpm (1.5)
Imobilisation/Surgery in the last 4 weeks (1.5)
Blood in sputum (haemoptysis) (1)
Active Cancer (1)
Two tier score: PE likely > 4
Causes of life threatening chest pain
JVP: raised JVP differential
Quantity of fluid raised (fluid over load)
Right heart failure
Superior vena caval obstruction
Tricuspid stenosis/Tricuspid regurgitation/Tamponade (cardiac)
PEA/Asystole (ACLS): cause
Rapid sequence intubation (RSI)
Monitoring & Meds
Rapid Sequence intubation Medications (RSI) (CCRx)
Very Calmly Engage the Respiratory System
Shock: signs and symptoms
RN CHAMPS (Alternatively: "MR. C.H. SNAP", or "NH CRAMPS"):
Subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) causes
Arteriovenous malformation/Adult polycystic kidney disease
Syncope causes, by system
CNS causes include HEAD:
Dysfunctional brain stem (basivertebral TIA)
Cardiac causes are HEART:
Aortic obstruction (IHSS, AS or myxoma)
Rhythm disturbance, ventricular
Vascular causes are VESSELS:
Ectopic (reminds one of hypovolemia)
ENT (glossopharyngeal neuralgia)
Low systemic vascular resistance (Addison's, diabetic vascular neuropathy)
Sensitive carotid sinus
Tension pneumothorax: signs and symptoms
Reduced breath sounds (and dyspnea)
X-ray shows collapse
Anterior mediastinal masses
T-cell / Hodgkin's lymphoma
Dermatomyositis or polymyositis: risk of underlying malignancy
Risk is 30% at age 30. Risk is 40% at age 40, and so on.
Lung cancer: main sites for distant metastases
Esophageal cancer: risk factors
Lung cancer: notorious consequences
Superior vena cava syndrome
Paralysis of diaphragm (Phrenic nerve)
Horner syndrome/ Hoarseness
Mole: signs of trouble
Diameter usually > 0.5 cm
Prognotic factors for cancer: general
Presentation (time & course)
Response to treatment
Old (bad prog.)
Good intervention (i.e. early)
Non-compliance with treatment
Order of differentiation (>1 cell type)
Stage of disease
Pituitary endocrine functions often affected by pituitary-associated tumor
"Go Look For the Adenoma Please":
Tropic hormones affected by growth tumor are:
Interviewing / Physical exam
To assess abdomen, palpate all 4 quadrants for DR. GERM:
Distension: liver problems, bowel obstruction
Rigidity (board like): bleeding
Guarding: muscular tension when touched
Rebound tenderness: infection
Altered Level of Consciousness: Reasons
Epilepsy, Electrolytes, and Encephalopathy
Deep Tendon Reflexes (DTR's)
One Two, put on my shoe - S1/2 roots for Achilles Reflex (foot plantarflexion)
Three Four, kick the door - L3/4 roots for Patellar Reflex (knee extension)
Five Six, pick up sticks - C5/6 roots for Brachioradialis and Biceps Brachii Reflexes (elbow flexion)
Seven Eight, shut the gate - C7/8 roots for Triceps Brachii Reflex (elbow extension)
Cause of symptoms
OPQRST (Works well for cardiac, and respiratory patients.)
Onset of the event
Provocation or palliation
Quality of the pain
Region and radiation
|FHR Pattern:||Variable||Early Deceleration||Acceleration||Late Deceleration|
|Meaning:||Cord compression||Head compression||O2||Placental Insufficiency|
Deformities & Discolorations
Penetrations & Punctures
Swelling & Symmetry
Toxicological seizures: Causes
PCP, Propoxyphene, Phenol, Propranolol
Benzodiazepine withdrawal, Botanicals
Vomiting: non-GIT differential
Acute renal failure
Brain [increased ICP]
Cardiac [inferior MI]
Foreign substances [paracetamol, theo, etc.]
Infection [pyelonephritis, meningitis]
Heart valve auscultation sites
"All Patients Take Meds":
Reading from top left:
Glasgow coma scale: components and numbers
Scale types is 3 V's:
Vibratory (motor) response Scale scores are 4,5,6:
Scale of 4: see so much more
Scale of 5: talking jive
Scale of 6: feels the pricks (if testing motor by pain withdrawal)
Mental state examination: stages in order
"Assessed Mental State To Be Positively Clinically Unremarkable":
Appearance and behaviour [observe state, clothing...]
Mood [recent spirit]
Speech [rate, form, content]
Thinking [thoughts, perceptions]
Cognition [time, place, age...]
Understanding of condition [ideas, expectations, concerns]
Signs and Symptoms
Past medical history, injuries, illnesses
Events leading up to the injury and/or illness
Character: sharp or dull pain
Location: region (joint) of origin
Onset: sudden vs. gradual
Intensity: how severe (scale 1-10), impact on ADLs (activities of daily living), is it getting better, worse or staying the same?
Duration: acute vs. chronic
Events associated: falls, morning stiffness, swelling, redness, joint clicking or locking, muscle cramps, muscle wasting, movement limitation, weakness, numbness or tingling, fever, chills, trauma (mechanism of injury), occupation activities, sports, repetitive movements
Frequency: intermittent vs. constant, have you ever had this pain before?
Palliative factors: is there anything that makes it better? (rest, activity, meds, heat, cold)
Pain history checklist
Alleviating factors/ Associated symptoms
Timing (duration, frequency)
Alternatively, Signs and Symptoms with the 'S'
Type/character (of pain)
Other associated symptoms
Abdominal swelling causes
Head Trauma: rapid neuro exam
Psychological (mental) status
Pupils: size, symmetry, reaction
Paired ocular movements
Pressure (BP, increased ICP)
Pulse and rate
Pin prick sensory response
Ocular bobbing vs. dipping
"Breakfast is fast, Dinner is slow, both go down":
Bobbing is fast
Dipping is slow
In both, the initial movement is down.
Pupillary dilation (persistent): causes
3rd nerve palsy
Anti-muscarinic eye drops (e.g. to facilitate fundoscopy)
Clinical examination: initial Inspection of patient from end of bed
Appearance (SOB, pain, etc.)
Connections (drips, inhalers, etc. connected to patient)
Differential diagnosis checklist
"A VITAMIN C"
A and C stand for Acquired and Congenital
VITAMIN stands for:
Inflammatory (Infectious and non-Infectious)
- Example usage: List causes of decreased vision: Central retinal artery occlusion, Retinitis pigmentosa, Perforation to gobe, Chronic Gentamycin use, Ruematoid arthritis, Diabetes, Idiopathic, Any eye tumor, Myopia.
"Absent Reflexes Should Get Paediatrics Professors Mad"
Absent: Asymmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex
Reflexes: Rooting Reflex
Should: Suck Reflex
Get: Grasp Reflex
Paediatrics: Placing Reflex
Professors: Parachute Reflex
Mad: Moro Reflex
Family history (FH)
Blood pressure (high)
Mental health disorders (depression, etc.)
Four point physical assessment of a disease
"I'm A People Person"
Medical history: disease checklist
Rheumatic fever/ Rheumatoid arthritis
Past medical history (PMH)
Vices (tobacco, alcohol, other drugs, sexual risks)
Preexisting medical conditions
Patient examination organization
Subjective: what the patient says.
Objective: what the examiner observes.
Assessment: what the examiner thinks is going on.
Plan: what they intend to do about it
Patient profile (PP)
Living situation/ Lifestyle
Daily activities (describe a typical day)
Environmental risks/ Exposure
Support system/ Stress
Physical exam for 'lumps and bumps'
"6 Students and 3 Teachers go for CAMPFIRE":
Site, Size, Shape, Surface, Skin, Scar
Tenderness, Temperature, Transillumination
Regional lymph nodes
Physical examination - correct order
"I Palpate People's Abdomens":
Short stature causes
Endocrine (cretinism, hypopituitarism, Cushing's)
Respiratory(suppurative lung disease)
Environmental (postirradiation, postinfectious)
Heart (congenital heart disease)
Tilted backbone (scoliosis)
Sign vs. symptom
sIgn: something I can detect even if patient is unconscious. sYMptom is something only hYM knows about.
Surgical sieve for diagnostic categories
Old age/ Degenerative
Surgical sieve for diagnostic categories (alternate)
Breast history checklist
Patient risk factors
Delivering Bad News
Strategy and Summary
Chorea: common causes
Increased RBC's (polycythemia)
Toxins: CO, Mg, Hg
Neurodegenerative conditions: HD, neuroacanthocytosis, DRPLA
Conception related: pregnancy, OCP's
Endocrine: hyperthyroidism, hypo-, hyperglycemia
Congenital myopathy: features
Dominantly inherited, mostly
Apathetic floppy baby
Dementia: reversible dementia causes
Stroke risk factors
Diabetes mellitus/ Drugs (cocaine)
Loss of ciliary-spinal reflex
- Dysdiadochokinesia/ Dysmetria
- Nystagmus (horizontal)
- Intention tremor
- Slurred speech
Causes of Pinpoint pupils
Pinpoint Pupils are caused by oPioids and Pontine Pathology
Diagnostic criteria of Neurofibromatosis Type 1
- Café au lait spots
- Axillary + inguinal freckling
- Eye: Lisch nodules
- Sphenoid dysplasia
- Positive family history
- Optic Tumour (glioma)
Features of normal pressure hydrocephalus
Wet, Wobbly, Wacky:
- Wet = urinary incontinence
- Wobbly = ataxic gait
- Wacky = dementia
Conduct disorder vs. Antisocial personality disorder
Conduct disorder is seen in Children. Antisocial personality disorder is seen in Adults.
Depression: symptoms and signs (DSM-IV criteria)
Weight change (loss or gain)
Energy, loss of
Sad feelings/ Suicide thoughts or plans or attempts/ Sexual inhibition/ Sleep change (loss or excess)/ Social withdrawal
Others (guilt, loss of pleasure, hopeless)
Understandable (such as bereavement, major stresses)
Neurotic (high anxiety personalities, negative parental upbringing Hypochondriasis)
Agitation (usually organic causes such as dementia)
Importuniing (whingeing, complaining)
Secondary (i.e. cancer at the head of the pancreas, bronchogenic cancer)
Erikson's developmental stages
"The sad tale of Erikson Motors":
- The stages in order by age group:
Mr. Trust and MsTrust had an auto they were ashamed of. She took the initiative to find the guilty party. She found the industry was inferior. They were making cars with dents [identity] and rolling fuses [role confusion]. Mr. N.T. Macy [intimacy] isolated the problem, General TVT absorbed the cost. In the end, they found the tires were just gritty and the should have used de- spare!
Mental state examination
Mania: cardinal symptoms
Indiscretion (DSM-IV's "excessive involvement in pleasurable activities")
Flight of ideas
Sleep deficit (decreased need for sleep)
Talkativeness (pressured speech)
Mania: diagnostic criteria
Must have 3 of MANIAC:
Mouth (pressure of speech)/ Moodl
Confidence (grandiose ideas)
Parasomnias: time of onset
SLeep terrors and SLeepwalking occur during SLow-wave sleep (stages 3 & 4).NightmaRE occurs during REM sleep (and is REMembered).
Psychiatric review of symptoms
"Depressed Patients Seem Anxious, So Call Psychiatrists":
Depression and other mood disorders (major depression, bipolar disorder, dysthymia)
Personality disorders (primarily borderline personality disorder)
Substance abuse disorders
Anxiety disorders (panic disorder with agoraphobia, obsessive-compulsive disorder)
Somatization disorder, eating disorders (these two disorders are combined because both involve disorders of bodily perception)
Cognitive disorders (dementia, delirium)
Psychotic disorders (schizophrenia, delusional disorder and psychosis accompanying depression, substance abuse or dementia)
Schizophrenia: negative features
Substance dependence: features (DSM IV)
- 3 of 7 within 12-month period:
Interest or Important activities given up or reduced
Harm to physical and psychosocial known but continue to use
Desire to cut down, control
Intended time, amount exceeded
Time spent too much
Chest radiograph: checklist to examine
"Pamela Found Our Rotation Particularly Exciting; Very Highly Commended Mainly 'Cus She Arouses":
Objects (e.g. lines, electrodes)
Soft tissues and bones
Air (diaphragm, pneumothorax, subcut. emphysema)
Chest X-ray interpretation
Preliminary is ABCDEF:
AP or PA
Films for comparison
Analysis is ABCDEF:
Airways (hilar adenopathy or enlargement)
Breast shadows/ Bones (rib fractures, lytic bone lesions)
Cardiac silhoutte (cardiac enlargement)/ Costophrenic angles (pleural effusions)
Diaphragm (evidence of free air)/ Digestive tract
Edges (apices for fibrosis, pneumothorax, pleural thickening or plaques)/ Extrathoracic tissues
Fields (evidence of alveolar filling)/ Failure (alveolar air space disease with prominent vascularity with or without pleural effusions)
Chest X-ray: cavitating lesions differential
"If you see HOLES on chest X-ray, they are WEIRD":
Wegener's granulomatosis (now formally known as granulomatosis with polyangiitis)
Embolic (pulmonary, septic)
Infection (anaerobes, pneumocystis, TB)
Rheumatoid (necrobiotic nodules)
Developmental cysts (sequestration)
Alternatively: L=Left atrial myxoma
Elbow ossification centers, in sequence
Head CT scan: evaluation checklist
"Blood Can Be Very Bad":
Neck sagittal x-ray: examination checklist
Anterior: look for swelling
Bones: examine each bone for fractures
Cartilage: look for slipped discs
Dark spots: ensure not abnormally big, or could mean excess blood
Osteoarthritis: x-ray signs
Loss of joint space
T2 vs. T1 MRI scan
"WW 2" (World War II):
Water is White in a T2 scan.
Conversely, a T1 scan shows fat as being whiter.
Upper lobe shadowing: causes
Extrinsic allergic alveolitis
- Neck mobility
COPD Assessment Test (CAT)
CAT items: CHEST SEA
To aid memory, think of the chest (or lungs) floating in a sea of yellow sputum, which is commonly seen in COPD.
- Home-leaving confidence
- Exercise tolerance (uphill/ 1 flight of stairs)
- Sputum (phlegm/ mucus)
- Tightness of chest
- Energy level
- ADL at home
- 3 S's:
- Subglottic swelling
- Seal-bark cough
Causes of upper zone pulmonary fibrosis
A TEA SHOP
- Extrinsic allergic alveolitis
- Ankylosing Spondylitis
- Occupational (silicosis, berylliosis)
- Pneumoconiosis (coal-worker’s)
Features of a life-threatening asthma attack
- Arrhythmia/Altered conscious level
- Cyanosis, PaCO2 normal
- Hypotension, Hypoxia (PaO2<8kPa, SpO2 <92%)
- Silent chest
- Threatening PEF < 33% best or predicted (in those >5yrs old)
The following may or may not fit properly into one of the above categories. They are being stored in this section either temporarily or permanently. Categorize them if needed.
SLUDGE and the Killer B's:
also known as DUMBBELLS
Loss of muscle strength
Cheyne-Stokes breathing sounds like "Chain smokes"
DIGITALIS ISONIAZID SPIRILACTINE CIMETIDINE, KETOCONQZILE OESTROGEN
Drugs for Bradycardia and Hypotension
Paralysis with induction
Placement of tube
Systemic lupus erythematosus: Diagnostic symptoms
SOAP BRAIN MD
Photosensitivity, pulmonary fibrosis
Immunologic (anti-Sm, anti-dsDNA)
Discoid rash however, not in order of diagnostic importance.
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