Abdominal pain is perhaps one of the most frequent complaints listed on a sick call/request to be seen slip in the correctional environment.  Changes to routine and diet, stress, and the “unmasking” of symptoms as patients become “detoxed” from substances like alcohol and drugs may contribute to complaints of abdominal problems. It can be the result of an organic issue or identified as physiologic; it can be chronic or acute. Thus, it is important that the correctional nurse understand the pathophysiology of the abdomen, and how to conduct a proper assessment of the abdominal areas.  As with all presenting complaints, it is vital that a succinct, yet thorough history be obtained from the patient to include any health problems they were experiencing in the past or prior to their incarceration.

In this class, the proper way to conduct an abdominal assessment will be reviewed, including appropriate questions to ask of any patient complaining of abdominal pain, how to inspect, auscultate, percuss and palpate the abdomen appropriately, and common signs and symptoms that should prompt a call to a provider.  Red Flags will also be discussed.