Primary Assessment Algorithm / Initial Emergency Assessment

Last updated: December 20, 2020

2020 updated guidelines have been published by American Heart Association®, by enrolling in our courses you will receive the current learning materials (2016 guidelines) now and also AUTOMATICALLY have free access to the 2021 guidelines when available. Please note that our company typically implements new training guidelines up to a year before AHA releases their updates.

In the adult sudden cardiac death caused by ventricular fibrillation is the most frequent cause of cardiac arrest. In infants and children cardiopulmonary arrest is most likely secondary to another condition such as respiratory failure or trauma causing hypovolemia. The primary assessment in pediatrics is very important because it is focused on catching issues that may lead to cardiac arrest before they do so.

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The following should be assessed in all children who are suspected to have any grave illness.

  1. Abnormal Vital Signs (see Normal Vital Sign Chart)
  2. Irregular respirations
  3. Slow or fast heart rate for age
  4. Signs of poor perfusion
    1. Check for presence or absence of distal pulses
    2. Poor skin color
    3. Delayed capillary refill
  5. Cyanosis or Saturation less than 94%
  6. Altered level of consciousness for age
  7. Seizures
  8. Fever with petechiae
  9. Significant trauma
  10. Burns of >10% of body surface area

A positive answer to any of the above may indicate the need for cardiopulmonary support.

This page is written by on Mar 30, 2017.
This page is last reviewed and updated by on Oct 13, 2019.