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CUPS is an acronym used by paramedics that stands for the following words, in this order: Critical, Uncritical, Potentially stable, and Stable. Paramedics are emergency medical workers who provide many medical services before and during transportation of the patient to the hospital. Paramedics are usually the first people to arrive on the scene of an emergency when an ambulance is called.
The four words listed above all stand for the condition that the patient is in when the paramedics arrive at the scene of the emergency. Critical is the worst condition that the patient can be in. In these patients, the airway, breathing and/or blood flow is absent, and they are not responsive when paramedics arrive. With critical patients, immediate interventions are taken to fix the problem(s) and the patient is taken to the hospital. The patient is sometimes placed on life support. Uncritical means that breathing and/or blood flow, airway, and responsiveness is abnormal, but not absent. With uncritical patients, rapid assessments and interventions are performed and the patients are brought to the hospital as soon as possible.
Potentially stable means that breathing, airway, blood flow, and responsiveness is normal, but that the cause of the injury or illness is present. With these patients, initial assessments and interventions are performed and the patient is transported promptly to the hospital. While the patient is transported to the hospital, information about the patient's history is taken if time allows. Low blood sugar is also treated if it is needed. Stable is the best condition that the patient can be in. It means that breathing, airway, blood flow, and responsiveness are normal. With stable patients, an initial assessment and intervention is performed. A focused history and detailed physical is done. Low blood sugar is also treated if it is needed. Only patients who are in stable condition should remain on the scene. These terms are taught in life support courses such as Advanced Cardiac Life Support and Pediatric Advanced Life Support.