Location: You are the clerking FY1 on the acute medical take
Patient: 75 year old patient has come into A&E with increasing shortness of breath
– Take a focused history from the patient
– After 6 minutes you will be asked a series of questions by the examiner.
– Answer any questions that the patient may have
Note to actor: Try to restrain yourself from volunteering too much information – you may do so when prompted (that is, by a specific question, not a general one). If a student is on the wrong line of clinical reasoning do not fuel this line of thinking, state no to the question as being ambiguous may prompt further questioning and does not allow the student to be appropriately tested. The aim of the exercise is to take a focused history; short answers are required.
You are a 75 year old patient who has been feeling terribly breathless recently. Your daughter came to visit and called an ambulance.
If asked you can usually walk to the shops about 200m away, you do become a little breathless but this does not bother you, you now struggle to move from the bed to the chair, stairs are almost impossible at the moment but you used to be able to climb them. You have to stop walking because you become so breathless. You usually cough a lot but you have noticed over the past week you are bringing up a lot more than usual, this is white clear mucus with no blood.
You have noticed some swelling in your legs, this has been present for the last couple of months. Your breathing is slightly worse when laying flat, so you now use 3 pillows in order to sleep.
You have not noticed a temperature, nor have you been around anyone else unwell and you have not experienced any night sweats. You have no weight loss. No history of DVT / PE (long-haul flights, recent operations, swollen legs).
Past Medical History (PMH) – Your GP has treated you for a ‘chest infection’ a couple of times over the past year and has given you antibiotics which seems to of solved the problem. You did not require hospital admission
Drug History (DH) – Blue inhaler – No known drug allergy
Social History (SH) – You are a retired customer service agent – You smoke 15 cigarettes a day for the past 60 years – You do not drink alcohol – You live at home with your partner in a 2 storey house
You are concerned about your breathing because it has never been this bad before and you are worried you wont be able to do all the housework or shopping like you used to. You enjoy living with your partner and you are worried if you cannot do these tasks then you might have to go into a nursing home which you do not want. You are willing to do what the doctor thinks is best.