A trauma nurse is assessing a patient who has sustained a blunt force trauma to the chest wall in a motor vehicle accident moments ago. There is ecchymosis to the patient's chest wall. What is the nurse's priority action?

Assess the patient's airway and breathing.


•The nurse's priority action is to assess the patient's airway and breathing. While this is always true for all patients, it is especially important for a patient who has sustained an injury to the chest wall.

Incorrect answer choices:

•Oxygen should be applied for trauma patients, but assessing the airway should be done first. Oxygen can be applied immediately afterward.

•Instructing the on splinting the chest wall and administering pain medication to the patient are appropriate interventions, however, these are not priority interventions for this patient. These would only be appropriate after it has been determined that the patient is breathing and has an open airway.

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