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  1. H R Guly
  1. Accident and Emergency Medicine, Derriford Hospital, Plymouth, PL6 8DH, UK
  1. Correspondence to:
 DR H R Guly; 

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It is generally accepted that the priorities, when resuscitating an ill patient are ABC, to which one can add D and E for the injured patient. I have been practising emergency medicine for over 20 years both in hospital and, occasionally, out of hospital and I am sure that I am not alone in still finding it helpful to say to myself “A.... B.... C....” etc, as I assess and treat a severely ill or injured patient.

A few years ago I was asked to give a guest lecture on a first aid course and made the above two points. The lecture seemed to be well received but at question time one of the participants commented that whereas everyone seemed to agree that the priorities were ABC, nobody could agree on what ABC stood for. It turned out that I …

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