You patient has come to the emergency department with complaints of abdominal pain. Which sign or symptom would make you think the patient is having an emergency?

 

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Correct

- Sudden relief of the pain

- Dark tarry stools

- Bright red blood in stools

- Pain upon palpation

Rationale

Appendicitis will be painful until it ruptures, then the pain will suddenly stop. It is an emergency when the patient has abdominal pain and then has a sudden relief of pain without any interventions, like pain medications or going to the bathroom. The concern is peritonitis and subsequent sepsis. Dark tarry stools indicate an upper GI bleed and bright red stools indicate lower GI bleed.

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