SAMPLE Questions That Can Save Someone’s Life

You probably know CPR stands for cardiopulmonary resuscitation, like you might know the SIM card in your phone is its subscriber identification module. But, do you know how to use SAMPLE questions as an assessment tool for a patient or fellow diver who appears unwell?

SAMPLE helps you remember the key questions to ask when assessing someone who may have an illness. Collecting this information can be very helpful to medical professionals that may arrive on scene. Additionally, engaging with the patient verbally can reveal possible signs of a stroke and help to reduce stress overall.

What are SAMPLE Questions and How Do You Use Them in an Emergency?

If you encounter someone who appears to be exhibiting signs and symptoms of a medical issue or illness, use the acronym SAMPLE to remember what questions to ask regarding their medical history and the events leading up to this potential illness. If the patient is unresponsive, you may be able to ask a friend or family member present.

S – Signs and Symptoms

Ask, “How do you feel now?” to learn what the patient’s symptoms are. Also, make note of any signs of illness that you observe yourself.

A – Allergies

Does the patient have any known allergies? Are they allergic to any medications?

M – Medications

Find out if the patient is taking any medications and how recently they took their medication(s).

P – Pre-existing Medical Conditions

Ask the patient whether they have any known, pre-existing medical conditions. Make note of any that the patient tells you of and pass this information to the Emergency Medical Service workers upon arrival.

L – Last Meal

Knowing how recently the patient ate or drank something, and what it was, can be helpful. If the patient hasn’t eaten for 12 hours and is feeling dizzy, they may have low blood sugar. Diarrhea within 1-6 hours of eating might indicate food poisoning. Remember, however, you are not diagnosing, but rather collecting information.

E – Events Leading Up to the Injury or Illness

Asking the patient, “What you were doing when you began to feel ill?” can offer valuable clues as to what led up to the patient feeling unwell. If it’s a hot day and the patient was recently expelling a lot of energy (possibly from diving), they may be suffering from heatstroke or dehydration.

If the patient is unconscious or exhibiting signs of a medical emergency, activating emergency medical services should always be your first priority. SAMPLE questions are designed to help you gather valuable information from breathing, conscious, patients to pass to professional medical responders, not to diagnose medical problems.

Has it been more than 12 months since your CPR or first aid class?

If you had trouble remembering the SAMPLE questions above, it’s probably time for an Emergency First Response© (EFR) refresher course. Or if you have never taken an EFR course before, and want to learn more – sign up for the PADI Emergency First Response course.

It’s perfectly normal to lose skills or forget a few steps. Research by the American Red Cross Scientific Advisory Council showed that fewer than 50 percent of students can pass a skills test 12 months after completing their course.

Regain the confidence and skills to provide lifesaving care. EFR CPR and first aid refresher courses are designed to help you quickly review skills you’re familiar with and spend more time on things you may have forgotten. Your local EFR® Instructor will make it easy and fun. Ask about a Care-at-a-Glance quick reference card to carry with you so you always know what to do in an emergency.