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Healthy Living

Managing an Unconscious Patient

A person could become unconscious due to a number of reasons. There are however a few general principles on how an unconscious patient should be handled.

  • Ensure that there is a free supply of fresh air and that the air passages are free.

  • Move the patient away from any harmful gases. If inside a room, open the door and windows. Remove false teeth. It is most important to keep back the crowds, they only obstruct.

  • Loosen the clothing at the neck, chest and waist.

  • If the weather is cold, wrap blankets around the body.

  • If breathing has stopped or is about to stop turn the patient into the required posture and start artificial respiration.

  • Breathing may be noisy or quiet. If quiet, let the patient lie on his back. Raise the shoulders slightly using a pad and turn the head to one side. Watch for some time. If the breathing becomes difficult, noisy or obstructed, change the posture to ease breathing. The changing of posture in cases of injury to the head, neck and spine is best avoided unless absolutely necessary and should be done only after knowing the specific techniques involved. If the breathing is noisy turn the patient to the three-quarter prone position and support in this position using pads. If patient is on a stretcher, raise the foot of the stretcher so that the lung secretions can drain easily.

  • Do not give any food or drinks to the patient.

  • If you know the specific reason why the patient is unconscious and know the specific first aid for this condition, apply it.

  • Observe the patient continuously for any changes in the condition and do not leave the scene until the doctor arrives or the patient is shifted to a hospital.

  • It is best to move the patient to a sheltered place on a stretcher and then to a hospital as soon as possible.


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