Assessment and treatment of the acutely ill adult
A & B for Airway and Breathing
The earliest, most sensitive feature of developing severe illness is an increased respiratory rate: look, count, respond.
Increased work of breathing due to increased respiratory rate and excessive respiratory muscle activity causes oxygen consumption to increase (often ten fold) at the same time as oxygen delivery is compromised .
Give supplemental oxygen and consider how we can reduce the effort of breathing eg salbutamol for wheeze, nitrates for LVF). Sometimes the work of breathing is so high that the patient requires intubation and ventilation to reduce this work and divert oxygen delivery to vital organs.