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Table of Contents
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The Geeky Medics list of medical mnemonics has been curated to help you remember important medical concepts and facts.
Our list of medical mnemonics includes clinical skills, medicine, surgery, paediatrics and psychiatry. For basic sciences, see the Geeky Medics list of anatomy mnemonics.
Clinical skills mnemonics
History structure: CHAMPS
- Complaint (presenting)
- History of presenting complaint
- Past medical history
- Social history
Assessment of pain: SOCRATES
- Associated symptoms
- Exacerbating and relieving factors
See our history taking guides for more details.
Significant past medical history: MJ THREADS
- Myocardial infarction
- Rheumatic fever
Drug history: PILLS
- Pills (is the patient taking any regular medications)
- ILLicit drug use
- Sensitivities (allergies)
History taking in syncope: “The Five Ps”
- Post-event phenomena
See our syncope overview for more details
See our SBARR overview for more details
Trauma handover: ATMIST
- Mechanism of injury
- Injuries sustained
- Symptoms and signs
- Treatments given
See our SBARR overview for more details
ECG lead placement: “Ride Your Green Bike”
Placement of limb leads, starting clockwise from the right wrist:
See our guide to recording an ECG.
Starting a clinical examination: WIPE
- Wash your hands (and don PPE)
- Introduce yourself (#HelloMyNameIs)
- Patient’s name, date of birth and preferred name
- Explain and gain consent
Check out our clinical examination guides.
Level of consciousness: ACVPU
See our emergency management guides for more details.
General inspection from the end of the bed: ABC
- Appearance (colour, pain, breathlessness etc)
- Behaviour (calm, agitated etc)
- Connections (oxygen, catheters, cannulas, surgical drains etc)
Neurological examination structure: “Is The Physician Really So Cool?”
Tendon reflex nerve roots
Count upwards from the ankles:
- S1 S2: ankle jerk
- L3 L4: knee jerk
- C5 C6: biceps and brachioradialis
- C7 C8: triceps
Also, as a rhyme: “1,2 buckle my shoe 3,4 kick the door 5,6 pick up sticks 7,8 shut the gate”
Cerebellar signs: DANISH
- Dysdiadochokinesia & Dysmetria
- Intention tremor
- Slurred speech
See our guide to cerebellar examination.
Heart valve auscultation sites: “All Physicians Take Money”
From right upper sternal border:
Assessing a cardiac murmur: SCRIPT
- Pitch and quality
- Timing (in the cardiac cycle, systolic or diastolic?)
See our guide to cardiovascular examination.
Breaking bad news: SPIKES
- Setting up
- Strategy and summary
See our guide to breaking bad news.
Chest X-ray findings in heart failure: ABCDE
- Alveolar oedema (perihilar/bat-wing opacification)
- Kerley B lines (interstitial oedema)
- Cardiomegaly (cardiothoracic ratio >50%) – may be difficult to assess on an AP film
- Dilated upper lobe vessels
- Effusions (i.e. pleural effusions – blunted costophrenic angles with meniscus sign)
See our overview of acute heart failure.
Triggers of atrial fibrillation: PIRATES
- Pulmonary embolism
- Respiratory disease
- Atrial enlargement or myxoma
- Thyroid disease
- Sepsis/sleep apnoea
See our overview of atrial fibrillation.
Features of aortic stenosis: SAD
- Syncope (exertional)
See our aortic stenosis examination guide.
Beck’s triad for cardiac tamponade: “Three Ds”
- Distant heart sounds
- Distended jugular veins
- Decreased arterial pressure (low BP)
Features of infective endocarditis: FROM JANE
- Roth’s spots
- Osler’s nodes
- Janeway lesions
- Nail bed haemorrhage
See our overview of infective endocarditis.
Management of hypertension: ABCD
- Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors
- Beta-blockers (no longer first line)
- Calcium channel blockers
See our overview of hypertension.
Features of asthma: CRAB
- Chronic inflammation of the airways
- Reversible airway obstruction
- Airway hyper-responsiveness
- Bronchial inflammation
See our overview of asthma to learn more.
Management of tuberculosis: RIPE
- Isoniazid (+ pyridoxine)
See our overview of tuberculosis.
Interpreting a chest X-ray: ABCDE
- Airway: trachea, carina, bronchi and hilar structures.
- Breathing: lungs and pleura.
- Cardiac: heart size and borders.
- Diaphragm: including assessment of costophrenic angles.
- Everything else: mediastinal contours, bones, soft tissues, tubes, valves, pacemakers and review areas.
See our guide to chest x-ray interpretation.
Features of thyroid eye disease: NO SPECS
- No signs or symptoms
- Only ocular irritation (dryness, gritty sensation)
- Soft tissue involvement (conjunctival oedema or injection)
- Extraocular muscle involvement
- Corneal exposure and ulceration
- Sight loss (due to compressive optic neuropathy)
See our overview of thyroid eye disease.
Diabetic ketoacidosis precipitants: “The 5 Is”
- Ignorance (poor diabetic control)
See our guide to the acute management of diabetic ketoacidosis.
Features of hypercalcaemia: “Bones, Stones, Groans and Moans”
- Painful bones
- Renal stones
- Abdominal groans (pain)
- Psychiatric moans (depression, confusion, lethargy)
Indications for renal replacement therapy: AEIOU
- Electrolyte abnormalities
- Ingested toxins
- Fluid Overload
Management of acute kidney injury: ABCDE
- Address drugs (nephrotoxics)
- Boost blood pressure
- Calculate fluid balance
- Dip urine
- Exclude obstruction
See our overview of acute kidney injury.
Functions of the kidney (and complications of CKD): A WET BED
- Acid-base balance: metabolic acidosis
- Water removal: pulmonary oedema
- Erythropoiesis: anaemia
- Toxin removal: uraemia
- Blood pressure control: hypertension
- Electrolyte balance: hyperkalaemia
- Vitamin D activation: bone-mineral disorder of chronic kidney disease (CKD-BMD)
Causes of pancreatitis: I GET SMASHED
- Autoimmune disease
- Scorpion sting (very rare…)
- ERCP (endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography)
- Drugs: commonly azathioprine, thiazides, septrin, tetracyclines
Glasgow score for pancreatitis: PANCREAS
- PaO2 <8 kPa
- Age > 55
- Neutrophils (white cell count) > 15
- Calcium < 2 mmol/L
- Raised urea >16 mmol/L
- Enzyme (LDH) >600 IU/L
- Albumin <32 g/L)
- Sugar (glucose) >10 mmol/L
See our overview of acute pancreatitis.
Conditions associated with coeliac disease: “I Don’t Take Apples, I Take Oranges”
- IgA deficiency
- Down’s syndrome
- Turner’s syndrome
- Autoimmune thyroid disease and autoimmune hepatitis
- IgA nephropathy
- Type 1 diabetes mellitus
- Other autoimmune conditions (e.g. Sjögren’s, myasthenia gravis, Addison’s disease)
See our overview of coeliac disease.
Features of myeloma: CRAB
- Renal failure
- Bone lesions
See our overview of multiple myeloma.
Vitamin K-dependent clotting factors: “2 + 7 = 9, not 10”
Causes of microcytic anaemia: TAILS
- Anaemia of chronic disease
- Iron deficiency anaemia
- Lead poisoning (rare)
- Sideroblastic anaemia (rare)
See our guide to full blood count interpretation.
Drugs that potentiate warfarin (increase INR): O DEVICES
Cytochrome P450 inhibitors:
- Ethanol (acute intoxication)
Drugs that decrease the effectiveness of warfarin (decrease INR): PC BRAS
Cytochrome P450 inducers:
- Alcohol (chronically)
See our guide to warfarin prescribing.
Features of migraine: POUND
- One to three days duration (4 – 72 hours)
- Nausea and/or vomiting
Features of Parkinson’s disease: SMART
- Shuffling gait
- Mask facies
See our guide to Parkinson’s disease examination.
Features of normal pressure hydrocephalus: “Wet, Wobbly and Wacky”
- Wet: urinary incontinence
- Wobbly: wide-based gait
- Wacky: cognitive impairment
See our neurosurgery topic summaries.
Features of limited cutaneous systemic sclerosis: CREST
- Calcinosis: deposits of calcium in soft tissue
- Raynaud’s: characterised by colour change of the hands, initially white (ischaemic change), then purple (deoxygenated blood) then pink (reperfusion)
- (o)Esophageal dysmotility: presents as dysphagia most often but there are other oesophageal symptoms
- Sclerodactyly: thickening and tightness of the skin of the fingers
- Telangiectasia: red spots around the mouth, nose and sometimes the palms, due to dilated capillaries
See our rheumatology topic summaries.
Features of melanoma: ABCDE
- Border irregularity (or poorly defined)
- Colour (varying colours)
- Diameter (>6mm)
- Evolving (changing in size, colour or shape
See our dermatology guides.
Causes of delirium: PINCH ME
See our guide to delirium assessment & management,
Red flags for back pain: TUNA FISH
- Unexplained weight loss
- Neurological symptoms / signs
- Age > 50
- Intravenous drug use
- Steroid use
- History of cancer
See our back pain history taking guide.
Reversible causes of cardiac arrest: “4Hs and 4Ts”
- Tension pneumothorax
See our emergency guides.
Interpreting a CT head: “Blood Can Be Very Bad”
See our guide to CT head interpretation.
Causes of abdominal distension: “The 6Fs”
- Fatal mass (ie, malignancy)
See our guide to abdominal examination.
X-ray changes in osteoarthritis: LOSS
- Loss of joint space
- Subchondral sclerosis
- Subchondral cysts
See our guide to osteoarthritis.
Management of soft tissue injuries: RICE
Salter-Harris classification: SALTR
- Slipped (type I)
- Above the joint (type II)
- Lower (Type III)
- Through (Type IV)
- Ruined or rammed (Type V)
See our guide to musculoskeletal x-ray interpretation.
Features of acute limb ischaemia: “The Six Ps”
- Perishingly cold (poikilothermia)
See our guide to acute limb ischaemia
Assessment of breast lump: LMNOP
- Mammary changes
- Nipple changes
- Other symptoms
- Patient risk factors (risk factors for cancer)
See our guides to breast examination and breast cancer.
Management of shoulder dystocia: HELPERR
- Help: call for help
- Evaluate for episiotomy
- Legs (McRoberts’ position)
- Pressure (suprapubic)
- Enter manoeuvres (rotational)
- Remove the posterior arm
- Roll over onto all fours
See our guide to shoulder dystocia.
Features of nasopharyngeal cancer: NOSE
- Neck mass
- Obstructed nasal passage
- Serous otitis media externa
- Epistaxis and discharge
See our guide to nasal examination.
Pyloric stenosis: “Three Ps”
- Palpable mass
- Peristalsis visible
- Projective vomiting
Features of croup: “Three Ss”
- Subglottic swelling
- Seal like cough
See our guide to croup.
Paediatric history: BINDS
- Social history
See our guide to paediatric history taking.
Risk factors for suicide: SAD PERSONS
- Sex (male)
- Age (<19 or >45 years)
- Previous attempt
- Excess alcohol or substance use
- Rational thinking loss
- Social support lacking
- Organised plan
- No spouse
See our guide to suicide risk assessment.
Features of post-traumatic stress disorder: HARD
- Hyperarousal: persistently heightened perception of current threat (may include enhanced startle reaction)
- Avoidance of situations/activities reminiscent of the events, or of thoughts/memories of the events
- Re-experiencing the traumatic events (vivid intrusive memories, flashbacks, or nightmares)
- Distress: strong/overwhelming fear and physical sensations when re-experiencing