EMS Tips

Abdominal Pain – When is it Important and Urgent

Yesterday I wrote about prioritizing my work tasks and focusing on tasks that Important and Urgent. With limited work hours and year-end deadlines I don’t want to get bogged down with tasks that are Not Important and Not Urgent.

Abdominal pain is a fairly common complaint and since the belly is the big mystery zone it is tough to determine if a patient’s complaint is an emergency or not an emergency.

Let’s make the assumption that the patient’s complaint is important – it’s their belly and it hurts. Now what would make abdominal pain Urgent? Specifically what signs, symptoms, or exam findings will help you decide if a patient’s belly pain is an emergency?

For example, abdominal pain with a fever is important.

Now it’s your turn. What else makes abdominal pain urgent?


By Greg Friese

Greg Friese, Stevens Point, Wisconsin, is an author, educator, paramedic, and marathon runner.

Greg was the co-host of the award winning EMSEduCast podcast, the only podcast by and for EMS educators. Greg has written for,, Wilderness Medical Associates, JEMS Magazine, and EMS World Magazine, and the NAEMSE Educator Newsletter.