Assessment of Acute Hand Injuries: Part I

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More than 140,000 hand injuries occur yearly, and an estimated 5 days of loss of work per patient occurs (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2012). Advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) are responsible for managing many of these injuries in primary and emergency care settings. Hand injuries are responsible for approximately 10% of all emergency department visits annually (P. Shayne, S. H. Plantz, & F. Talavera, 2012). This article reviews approaches to the assessment of the patient with a hand injury and establishes a process for basic identification of the hand structures and function. Approaches to history taking and specific evaluations for the hand will be discussed and examples of the assessments will be provided. Diagnostic approaches to support physical findings will be discussed, and methods of radiologic assessment will support the audience in making appropriate diagnosis in relation to hand injuries. This is Part I of a three-part series that will validate the approaches to hand assessment for adults and children and identify specific injuries and their management for the APRN.

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