SOAP Method Can Keep Staff and Patients Safe



By Kip Teitsort, Founder DT4EMS, LLC

Frequently when staff are interviewed about a violent encounter ( in which staff was criminally assaulted) something as simple as using SOAP could have mitigated many of them.

In nearly every initial “patient” contact a provider can use the SOAP method to buy a moment in time to decided if they are dealing with a true medical/trauma patient or an attacker/aggressor.

STOP– Since very few patient contacts actually require a provider to rush over and lay hands on someone, take a moment and STOP. A simple pause allows the provider the precious moments to process information about their immediate environment and the people within it. Pausing and contemplating for just a moment is nothing new in emergency medicine. Many providers were taught to stop and take their own pulse, prior to taking the pulse of a patient, in stressful situations. in DT4EMS’ EVE class we teach providers to STOP at 6-8 feet. This is what we call minimum safe distance. It is the distance needed for a provider to react to a surprise attack. (1)

OBSERVE– Take a moment to look around the room. Forcing yourself to look at all of the corners of a room can help keep a provider from getting tunnel vision. Often times providers are so focused on looking at a supposed patient they may miss the warning signs present that potential danger is present (drug paraphernalia, weapons). A provider is also observing for if the behavior appears to match the verbal from the patient or family members. Does the patient appear to match the original chief complaint?

ATTITUDE– Checking provider attitude at the door and observing the attitude of patient and/or bystanders will assist in allowing the provider to know if they are dealing with a…

PATIENT– or an attacker/aggressor. If dealing with a patient, obviously after obtaining consent, treatment could begin. If dealing with an aggressor, the provider would leave the area. If the provider believes a person still requires medical treatment, but the situation is unsafe for the provider, the provider would contact law enforcement. Law enforcement can take custody (if they see legal reason to do so) then and only then  the provider would deliver care. (2)



(1) Stances

(2) Patient or Attacker


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