Assessing the head, eyes, ears, nose, and throat

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Most ear, nose, and throat conditions that arise in non-critical care settings are minor in nature. However, subtle symptoms can sometimes escalate into life-threatening conditions that require prompt assessment and treatment.

Nurses conducting assessments of the ears, nose, and throat must be able to identify the small differences between life-threatening conditions and benign ones. For instance, if a patient with a sore throat and a runny nose also has inflamed lymph nodes, the inflammation is probably due to the pathogen causing the sore throat rather than a case of throat cancer. With this knowledge and a sufficient patient health history, a nurse would not need to escalate the assessment to a biopsy or an MRI of the lymph nodes but would probably perform a simple strep test.

The Case Study/Scenario: 

Jason, a 13-year-old male comes in with Mom complaining of painful swallowing. Started yesterday as a “really bad sore throat” made worse with swallowing. He reports feeling very tired. His Mom gave him over-the-counter Children’s Motrin which made his fever better but did not help his sore throat. He reports his symptoms are especially, worse during nighttime. His tonsils are 2+ and erythematous, tonsil stones are present on the right side. He has white patches on his tongue

Ball, J. W., Dains, J. E., Flynn, J. A., Solomon, B. S., & Stewart, R. W. (2019). Seidel’s guide to physical examination: An interprofessional approach (9th ed.). St. Louis, MO: Elsevier Mosby.

 

· Chapter 11, “Head and Neck”

This chapter reviews the anatomy and physiology of the head and neck. The authors also describe the procedures for conducting a physical examination of the head and neck.

 

· Chapter 12, “Eyes”

In this chapter, the authors describe the anatomy and function of the eyes. In addition, the authors explain the steps involved in conducting a physical examination of the eyes.

 

· Chapter 13, “Ears, Nose, and Throat”

The authors of this chapter detail the proper procedures for conducting a physical exam of the ears, nose, and throat. The chapter also provides pictures and descriptions of common abnormalities in the ears, nose, and throat.

Dains, J. E., Baumann, L. C., & Scheibel, P. (2019). Advanced health assessment and clinical diagnosis in primary care (6th ed.). St. Louis, MO: Elsevier Mosby.

Credit Line: Advanced Health Assessment and Clinical Diagnosis in Primary Care, 6th Edition by Dains, J.E., Baumann, L. C., & Scheibel, P. Copyright 2019 by Mosby. Reprinted by permission of Mosby via the Copyright Clearance Center.

Chapter 15, “Earache”
This chapter covers the main questions that need to be asked about the patient’s condition prior to the physical examination as well as how these questions lead to a focused physical examination.

Chapter 21, “Hoarseness”
This chapter focuses on the most common causes of hoarseness. It provides strategies for evaluating the patient, both through questions and through physical exams.

Chapter 25, “Nasal Symptoms and Sinus Congestion”

 

In this chapter, the authors highlight the key questions to ask about the patients symptoms, the key parts of the physical examination, and potential laboratory work that might be needed to provide an accurate diagnosis of nasal and sinus conditions.

Chapter 30, “Red Eye”

 

The focus of this chapter is on how to determine the cause of red eyes in a patient, including key symptoms to consider and possible diagnoses.

Chapter 32, “Sore Throat”

 

A sore throat is one most common concerns patients describe. This chapter includes questions to ask when taking the patient’s history, things to look for while conducting the physical exam, and possible causes for the sore throat.

Chapter 38, “Vision Loss”
This chapter highlights the causes of vision loss and how the causes of the condition can be diagnosed.


Note:

 Download the six documents (Student Checklists and Key Points) below, and use them as you practice conducting assessments of the head, neck, eyes, ears, nose, and throat.

Ball, J. W., Dains, J. E., Flynn, J. A., Solomon, B. S., & Stewart, R. W. (2019). Head and neck: Student checklist. In Seidel’s guide to physical examination: An interprofessional approach (9th ed.). St. Louis, MO: Elsevier Mosby.

Credit Line: Seidel’s Guide to Physical Examination, 9th Edition by Ball, J. W., Dains, J. E., Flynn, J. A., Solomon, B. S., & Stewart, R. W. Copyright 2019 by Elsevier Health Sciences. Reprinted by permission of Elsevier Health Sciences via the Copyright Clearance Center.

Ball, J. W., Dains, J. E., Flynn, J. A., & Solomon, B. S., & Stewart, R. W. (2019). Head and neck: Key points. In Seidel’s guide to physical examination: An interprofessional approach (9th ed.). St. Louis, MO: Elsevier Mosby.

Credit Line: Seidel’s Guide to Physical Examination, 9th Edition by Ball, J. W., Dains, J. E., Flynn, J. A., Solomon, B. S., & Stewart, R. W. Copyright 2019 by Elsevier Health Sciences. Reprinted by permission of Elsevier Health Sciences via the Copyright Clearance Center.

Ball, J. W., Dains, J. E., Flynn, J. A., Solomon, B. S., & Stewart, R. W. (2019). Eyes: Student checklist. In Seidel’s guide to physical examination: An interprofessional approach (9th ed.). St. Louis, MO: Elsevier Mosby.

Credit Line: Seidel’s Guide to Physical Examination, 9th Edition by Ball, J. W., Dains, J. E., Flynn, J. A., Solomon, B. S., & Stewart, R. W. Copyright 2019 by Elsevier Health Sciences. Reprinted by permission of Elsevier Health Sciences via the Copyright Clearance Center.

Ball, J. W., Dains, J. E., Flynn, J. A., Solomon, B. S., & Stewart, R. W. (2019). Eyes: Key points. In Seidel’s guide to physical examination: An interprofessional approach (9th ed.). St. Louis, MO: Elsevier Mosby.

Credit Line: Seidel’s Guide to Physical Examination, 9th Edition by Ball, J. W., Dains, J. E., Flynn, J. A., Solomon, B. S., & Stewart, R. W. Copyright 2019 by Elsevier Health Sciences. Reprinted by permission of Elsevier Health Sciences via the Copyright Clearance Center.

Ball, J. W., Dains, J. E., Flynn, J. A., Solomon, B. S., & Stewart, R. W. (2019). Ears, nose, and throat: Student checklist. In Seidel’s guide to physical examination: An interprofessional approach (9th ed.). St. Louis, MO: Elsevier Mosby.

Credit Line: Seidel’s Guide to Physical Examination, 9th Edition by Ball, J. W., Dains, J. E., Flynn, J. A., Solomon, B. S., & Stewart, R. W. Copyright 2019 by Elsevier Health Sciences. Reprinted by permission of Elsevier Health Sciences via the Copyright Clearance Center.

Ball, J. W., Dains, J. E., Flynn, J. A., Solomon, B. S., & Stewart, R. W. (2019). Ears, nose, and throat: Key points. In Seidel’s guide to physical examination: An interprofessional approach (9th ed.). St. Louis, MO: Elsevier Mosby.

Credit Line: Seidel’s Guide to Physical Examination, 9th Edition by Ball, J. W., Dains, J. E., Flynn, J. A., Solomon, B. S., & Stewart, R. W. Copyright 2019 by Elsevier Health Sciences. Reprinted by permission of Elsevier Health Sciences via the Copyright Clearance Center.

Sullivan, D. D. (2019). Guide to clinical documentation (3rd ed.). Philadelphia, PA: F. A. Davis.

 

· Chapter 2, “The Comprehensive History and Physical Exam” (Previously read in Weeks 1, 3, 4, and 5)

Hayashi, T., Kitamura, K., Hashimoto, S., Hotomi, M., Kojima, H., Kudo, F., Maruyama, Y., Sawada, S., Taiji, H., Takahashi, G., Takahashi, H., Uno, Y., & Yano, H. (2020). Clinical practice guidelines for the diagnosis and management of acute otitis media in children—2018 update. Auris Nasus Larynx, 47(4), 493–526. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.anl.2020.05.019

Mustafa, Z., & Ghaffari, M. (2020). Diagnostic methods, clinical guidelines, and antibiotic treatment for Group A streptococcal pharyngitis: A narrative review. Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology, 10. https://doi.org/10.3389/fcimb.2020.563627

Patel, G. B., Kern, R. C., Bernstein, J. A., Hae-Sim, P., & Peters, A. T. (2020). Current and future treatments of rhinitis and sinusitis. The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice, 8(5), 1522–1531. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaip.2020.01.031

Episodic/Focused SOAP Note Exemplar

Focused SOAP Note for a patient with chest pain


S.

CC: “Chest pain” 

HPI: The patient is a 65 year old AA male who developed sudden onset of chest pain, which began early this morning.  The pain is described as “crushing” and is rated nine out of 10 in terms of intensity. The pain is located in the middle of the chest and is accompanied by shortness of breath. The patient reports feeling nauseous. The patient tried an antacid with minimal relief of his symptoms.

Medications: Lisinopril 10mg, Omeprazole 20mg, Norvasc 5mg

PMH: Positive history of GERD and hypertension is controlled

FH: Mother died at 78 of breast cancer; Father at 75 of CVA.  No history of premature cardiovascular disease in first degree relatives.

SH : Negative for tobacco abuse, currently or previously; consumes moderate alcohol; married for 39 years 

Allergies: PCN-rash; food-none; environmental- none

Immunizations: UTD on immunizations, covid vaccine #1 1/23/2021 Moderna; Covid vaccine #2 2/23/2021 Moderna

ROS   
General–Negative for fevers, chills, fatigue
Cardiovascular–Negative for orthopnea, PND, positive for intermittent lower extremity edema 
Gastrointestinal–Positive for nausea without vomiting; negative for diarrhea, abdominal pain
Pulmonary–Positive for intermittent dyspnea on exertion, negative for cough or hemoptysis  


O.

VS: BP 186/102; P 94; R 22; T 97.8; 02 96% Wt 235lbs; Ht 70”

General–Pt appears diaphoretic and anxious

Cardiovascular–PMI is in the 5th inter-costal space at the mid clavicular line. A grade 2/6 systolic decrescendo murmur is heard best at the

second right inter-costal space which radiates to the neck.

A third heard sound is heard at the apex. No fourth heart sound or rub are heard. No cyanosis, clubbing, noted, positive for bilateral 2+ LE edema is noted.

Gastrointestinal–The abdomen is symmetrical without distention; bowel

sounds are normal in quality and intensity in all areas; a

bruit is heard in the right para-umbilical area. No masses or

splenomegaly are noted. Positive for mid-epigastric tenderness with deep palpation.

Pulmonary— Lungs are clear to auscultation and percussion bilaterally

Diagnostic results: EKG, CXR, CK-MB (support with evidenced and guidelines)


A.

Differential Diagnosis:

1) Myocardial Infarction (provide supportive documentation with evidence based guidelines).

2) Angina (provide supportive documentation with evidence based guidelines).

3) Costochondritis (provide supportive documentation with evidence based guidelines).

Primary Diagnosis/Presumptive Diagnosis: Myocardial Infarction


A.

Differential Diagnosis:

1) Myocardial Infarction (provide supportive documentation with evidence based guidelines).

2) Angina (provide supportive documentation with evidence based guidelines).

3) Costochondritis (provide supportive documentation with evidence based guidelines).

Primary Diagnosis/Presumptive Diagnosis: Myocardial Infarction


P.
This section is not required for the assignments in this course (NURS 6512) but will be required for future courses.

© 2021 Walden University LLC

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© 2021 Walden University

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Episodic/Focused SOAP Note Template

 

Patient Information:

Initials, Age, Sex, Race


S.

CC (chief complaint) a BRIEF statement identifying why the patient is here – in the patient’s own words – for instance “headache”, NOT “bad headache for 3 days”.

HPI: This is the symptom analysis section of your note. Thorough documentation in this section is essential for patient care, coding, and billing analysis. Paint a picture of what is wrong with the patient. Use LOCATES Mnemonic to complete your HPI. You need to start EVERY HPI with age, race, and gender (e.g., 34-year-old AA male). You must include the seven attributes of each principal symptom in paragraph form not a list. If the CC was “headache”, the LOCATES for the HPI might look like the following example:

Location: head

Onset: 3 days ago

Character: pounding, pressure around the eyes and temples

Associated signs and symptoms: nausea, vomiting, photophobia, phonophobia

Timing: after being on the computer all day at work

Exacerbating/ relieving factors: light bothers eyes, Aleve makes it tolerable but not completely better

Severity: 7/10 pain scale

Current Medications: include dosage, frequency, length of time used and reason for use; also include OTC or homeopathic products.

Allergies: include medication, food, and environmental allergies separately (a description of what the allergy is ie angioedema, anaphylaxis, etc. This will help determine a true reaction vs intolerance).

PMHx: include immunization status (note date of last tetanus for all adults), past major illnesses and surgeries. Depending on the CC, more info is sometimes needed

Soc Hx: include occupation and major hobbies, family status, tobacco & alcohol use (previous and current use), any other pertinent data. Always add some health promo question here – such as whether they use seat belts all the time or whether they have working smoke detectors in the house, living environment, text/cell phone use while driving, and support system.

Fam Hx: illnesses with possible genetic predisposition, contagious or chronic illnesses. Reason for death of any deceased first degree relatives should be included. Include parents, grandparents, siblings, and children. Include grandchildren if pertinent.

ROS: cover all body systems that may help you include or rule out a differential diagnosis You should list each system as follows: General: Head: EENT: etc. You should list these in bullet format and document the systems in order from head to toe.

Example of Complete ROS:

GENERAL:  Denies weight loss, fever, chills, weakness or fatigue.

HEENT:  Eyes: Denies visual loss, blurred vision, double vision or yellow sclerae. Ears, Nose, Throat:  Denies hearing loss, sneezing, congestion, runny nose or sore throat.

SKIN:  Denies rash or itching.

CARDIOVASCULAR:  Denies chest pain, chest pressure or chest discomfort. No palpitations or edema.

RESPIRATORY:  Denies shortness of breath, cough or sputum.

GASTROINTESTINAL:  Denies anorexia, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. No abdominal pain or blood.

GENITOURINARY:  Burning on urination. Pregnancy. Last menstrual period, MM/DD/YYYY.

NEUROLOGICAL:  Denies headache, dizziness, syncope, paralysis, ataxia, numbness or tingling in the extremities. No change in bowel or bladder control.

MUSCULOSKELETAL:  Denies muscle, back pain, joint pain or stiffness.

HEMATOLOGIC:  Denies anemia, bleeding or bruising.

LYMPHATICS:  Denies enlarged nodes. No history of splenectomy.

PSYCHIATRIC:  Denies history of depression or anxiety.

ENDOCRINOLOGIC:  Denies reports of sweating, cold or heat intolerance. No polyuria or polydipsia.

ALLERGIES:  Denies history of asthma, hives, eczema or rhinitis.


O.

Physical exam: From head-to-toe, include what you see, hear, and feel when doing your physical exam. You only need to examine the systems that are pertinent to the CC, HPI, and History. Do not use “WNL” or “normal.” You must describe what you see. Always document in head to toe format i.e. General: Head: EENT: etc.

Diagnostic results: Include any labs, x-rays, or other diagnostics that are needed to develop the differential diagnoses (support with evidenced and guidelines)


A

.

Differential Diagnoses (list a minimum of 3 differential diagnoses).Your primary or presumptive diagnosis should be at the top of the list. For each diagnosis, provide supportive documentation with evidence based guidelines.


P.
  

This section is not required for the assignments in this course (NURS 6512) but will be required for future courses.

References

You are required to include at least three evidence based peer-reviewed journal articles or evidenced based guidelines which relates to this case to support your diagnostics and differentials diagnoses. Be sure to use correct APA 7th edition formatting.

© 2021 Walden University, LLC

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The Case Study/Scenario: 

Jason, a 13-year-old male comes in with Mom complaining of painful swallowing. Started yesterday as a “really bad sore throat” made worse with swallowing. He reports feeling very tired. His Mom gave him over-the-counter Children’s Motrin which made his fever better but did not help his sore throat. He reports his symptoms are especially, worse during nighttime. His tonsils are 2+ and erythematous, tonsil stones are present on the right side. He has white patches on his tongue

The Question

In this Case Study 

1. Use the Episodic/Focused SOAP Template and create an episodic/focused note about the patient in the case study.

2. Consider case studies of abnormal findings from patients in a clinical setting. 

3. Determine what history should be collected from the patients, what physical exams and diagnostic tests should be conducted.

4. How would the results be used to make a diagnosis?

5. Provide evidence from the literature to support diagnostic tests that would be appropriate for each case.

6. Formulate at least Five differential diagnoses with several possible conditions and justify why you selected each.

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