The SAMPLE mnemonic is a handy tool used to remember the 6 things to look for when collecting a history.

SAMPLE Mnemonic for First Aid


The SAMPLE Mnemonic: A Tool for Unraveling Medical Histories

The SAMPLE history is an acronym that helps clinicians systematically collect crucial details about a patient’s health. It is particularly useful in emergency medicine and is often employed during secondary assessments. Let’s have a closer look:

What do the letters of the SAMPLE Mnemonic mean?

Symptoms –


  • Ask the patient’s whether they have any current symptoms. Its also a good time to ask some questions about any physical signs they exhibit. Remember, symptoms are subjective experiences, while signs are objective observations made by the healthcare provider.
  • For example, you might ask about pain, discomfort, work of breathing, weakness, or any other unusual sensations.



  • Ask about any known allergies the patient may have. These could be related to medications, foods, environmental factors, or other substances.
  • Allergies may not only help understand the current presentation. They are also crucial to avoid adverse reactions during treatment.

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Medications –


  • Gather information about the patient’s current medications, including prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, and herbal supplements.
  • Be thorough and ask about dosages, frequency and any recent changes in medications.

Past (Pertinent Medical History) 


  • Ask about the patient’s medical past as it pertains to the current condition. Ask about chronic conditions, surgeries, hospitalizations, and significant illnesses.
  • Try to keep the focus on relevant medical events that may impact the current situation.

Last (Oral Intake) 

  • Determine when the patient last ate or drank. This information is vital for assessing potential complications during procedures or surgeries.
  • This line of questioning may also be relevant for assessing diabetic patients.


Events (Prior to Current Situation) 


  • To understand the context, ask what events or circumstances led to the patient seeking medical attention?
  • When assessing trauma cases, explore the mechanism of injury (e.g., fall, motor vehicle accident).

A SAMPLE history is an essential and valuable tool, especially in emergency situations. It should be used in conjunction with other structured history such as OPQRST, vitals and a thorough physical assessment to create a complete picture of the patient’s illness.

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