A minor injury has been described as a mechanical process with a clear history of direct trauma.1 The assessment and management of minor injuries is often associated with emergency departments (ED) or minor injury units (MIU); however, patients will often access primary care services with minor injuries. This is evident in the development of GP-led walk-in centres designed to improve patient access2 —with nurses in these settings involved in minor injury assessment and management. In MIUs, emergency nurse practitioners are trained to assess and manage minor injuries, however, general practice nurses may not have the same opportunities to access this level of training.
McCarthy et al3 recognise that general practice nursing (GPN) education is variable. Approximately 30–50% of minor musculoskeletal (MSK) injuries seen in primary care are soft tissue injuries, such as sprains and strains.4 A comprehensive clinical history is key to determining a diagnosis5 and this is especially true for the assessment of minor injuries.6 The focus of this article will be on the assessment of MSK minor injuries, with an emphasis on a structured clinical consultation. The opportunities and limitations to managing minor injuries in a primary care setting will also be reviewed, including signposting to alternative facilities for further treatment.
Defining a minor injury
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