Healthcare professionals and students write soap notes to record information about the patient’s condition. When writing a soap note you should be specific and concise. You should ensure you follow the correct soap note format. This article gives you a guide on how to write a soap note.
Healthcare professionals record patient information and specifics of each visit in a succinct and uniform style called a SOAP note. SOAP stands for Subjective, Objective, Assessment, and Plan which are the four main sections of the note. This approach makes it possible to document patient care in a clear, complete, and orderly manner, which promotes continuity of care and makes communication between healthcare practitioners easier.
Soap note format
When writing a soap note assignment paper, you should follow a specific format to write about your encounter with the patient. The soap note format has four sections which include subjective, objective, assessment, and plan. Below is a guide on how to write a soap note:
a) Subjective (S)
In this section, you should ask the patients how they are feeling to get an idea about their symptoms. You should identify their chief complaints and also the patient’s medical history. You can also ask their friends and family about the patient’s illness.
When writing this section, you should start with the patient’s personal information like name and age. Write the date of the encounter of the illness and the reason for the visit. You should state the history of the present illness including its onset, severity, and symptoms. In addition, you should write the patient’s medical history, if they use any substances like alcohol or smoking, and their current medication.
b) Objective (O)
In this section, you should focus on quantifiable data that were obtained during the interaction with the patient such as vital signs, physical examination results, diagnostic test results, and observations. You should always use established measurements and units to guarantee accuracy.
When writing this section, you should record the vital signs including temperature, blood pressure, oxygen saturation, respiratory rate, and heart rate. Describe the results of the physical examination, providing pertinent information about each system that was examined. You should provide a report on laboratory results and diagnostic test results. In addition, describe any visual findings using precise language, such as skin texture or wound features.
c) Assessment (A)
In this section, you present your clinical assessment of the patient’s illness using subjective and objective data. This includes analyzing the acquired data and developing a diagnosis. If the condition has a clear diagnosis, write it down in your SOAP note. If the condition has multiple causes, enumerate them all so that the most likely one appears first.
When writing down the assessment section, you should provide an overview of the patient’s condition and deal with their chief complaint. Using medical terminology, make a list of possible diagnoses based on the available data. You should discuss your reasoning, mentioning any doubts or ideas for additional research. In addition, if you come up with a diagnosis, you should explain your decision.
d) Plan (P)
The plan section includes the treatment plans and the strategies to manage the patient’s illness. It consists of prescription drugs, surgical treatments, referrals, follow-up visits, and patient education.
When writing this section, you should state the treatment plan, including the precise drugs to be used, their dosages, and when they will be administered. Recommend any techniques, therapies, or interventions. If required, indicate the referrals or which specialists should be referred, along with the rationale for the recommendation. You should also provide information about follow-up appointments. In addition, educate the patient on their condition, the course of treatment, any possible risks, and how to take care of themselves.
Using the format above, you will be able to compose a good soap note. You can also research various soap note examples to understand how to properly structure a soap note. Writing a soap note requires clear, concise, and accurate information.
Soap note template
Similar to writing a nursing exemplar template, writing a soap note template helps you document your encounter with the patient in a well-organized manner. Below is a soap note template that you can use to record data about a patient:
Soap note template
Date of encounter:
a) Subjective (S)
- The patient’s concerns and description of their symptoms:
- Relevant medical background:
- Patient’s allergies:
- Current medication:
- Social history (substance abuse or alcohol use)
b) Objective (O)
- Vital signs:
- Heart rate:
- Blood pressure:
- Respiratory rate:
- Oxygen saturation:
- Physical examination:
- Patient’s general appearance:
- System findings:
- Diagnostic test and results:
- Laboratory results
- Other additional tests:
c) Assessment (A)
- An overview of the patient’s condition:
- Differential diagnosis:
- Clinical judgment or diagnosis:
- The explanation for the diagnosis:
d) Plan (P)
- Purpose of the treatment:
- Follow-up purpose, date and time:
- Patient education:
- Any additional information:
Tips for writing a soap note
Health professionals should write a good soap note to document patient care clearly and properly. Below are tips for writing a soap note:
- Write the soap note at an appropriate time
You should avoid writing a soap note while you a talking with the patient. You should instead write personal notes that you will use to guide you once you start writing the soap note. You can write the soap note immediately after your encounter with the patient. Avoid waiting too long to write the soap note since you may forget important details.
- At the top of the note write the important information about the patient
Put the patient’s age and gender at the start of your note. Note the patient’s age, sex, concerns, and reason for visiting the doctor. This can assist other healthcare professionals in quickly gaining an understanding of diagnosis or treatments.
- Write an organized soap note
Write down every piece of information you learned during your encounter with the patient. Organize the material according to Subjective-Objective-Assessment-Plan to avoid confusion for other healthcare professionals who may be reading the SOAP note. As long as your notes are succinct and clear, you can use bullet points or entire sentences when writing the soap note.
- Write a soap note as per your organization’s requirements
Many healthcare organizations provide secure forms that you may fill in the soap note on your computer to swiftly share information. However, in other healthcare organizations, you might have to take SOAP notes by hand. To keep things organized, make sure you adhere to the strict guidelines set forth by your organization.
- Be specific and concise
When writing a soap note you should be specific and concise. You should give a vivid description of the patient and their condition. Avoid giving general information. For example, instead of writing: the patient wrote their name you should write: using a pen, and paper, and given guidance, the patient wrote her name clearly.
Clinical importance of soap notes
The organization of information in a SOAP note is an advantage. Clinicians find a SOAP note easier to follow since it is clear, specific, and concise. Each section has a distinct title and clear information making it easier to comprehend the patient’s condition.
Healthcare providers can determine where you are on the treatment by looking at the soap note. This saves on time and the patient care provision is improved. In addition, since most soap notes are recorded in computers it’s easier to access the patient’s information and also promotes proper patient record keeping.
Popularity of soap notes
Most healthcare organizations are now using soap notes to record all the patient’s information. Soap notes give clinical notes a uniform arrangement and structure. Healthcare providers know where to look to find certain information on the patient.
Soap notes serve as a mental model for clinical thinking. The healthcare provider is guided through the evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment of the patient in each section. In addition, soap notes reduce the requirement for healthcare providers to devote a significant amount of time to their notes rather the format directs them toward the crucial aspects of documentation.
Writing a soap note requires you to follow the soap note format. Soap notes help healthcare providers to properly record their session with the patient. Soap note writing promotes better patient care since the details of the patient’s conditions are recorded clearly. Thus, the patient gets the required treatment intervention for their condition.
Using this article, you will learn how to write a soap note. If you need help with your soap note assignment, we provide assignment writing help.