Clinical Case Database / Category: Patient Management

Fits, faints & funny turns

Publication details

Rajiv Mohanraj PhD, FRCP, Sada Chaudhry
Foundation Years Journal, volume 8, issue 3, p.30 (123Doc Education, London, March 2014)


‘Fits, faints and funny turns’ describe often dramatic and frightening symptoms and are common reasons for people to seek medical attention. These terms usually refer to a period of transient loss of consciousness. The underlying diagnosis of transient loss of consciousness is often inaccurate or delayed. Patients may falsely be labelled as having a diagnosis of epilepsy and consequently other potentially life threatening diagnoses may be missed. Foundation year doctors are often the first people to assess patients presenting with such symptoms, for example whilst clerking during the acute medical take, when reviewing ward patients during on call shifts, and whilst working in the Emergency Department or community. This assessment provides a great opportunity to utilise the key skills of being a doctor, including taking and performing a thorough history and examination, formulating a differential diagnosis, selecting appropriate investigations and presenting findings to senior colleagues.

The aim of this article is to discuss the differential diagnoses for patients presenting with transient loss of consciousness, and to highlight important features in history taking, examination, investigation and management.

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Rajiv Mohanraj PhD, FRCP

Consultant Neurologist / Honorary Lecturer
Greater Manchester Neurosciences Centre
Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust
Stott Lane
Salford, M6 8HD

Sada Chaudhry

Consultant Neurologist
Department of Neurology
Wythenshawe Hospital


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About the Clinical Cases Database

T​he Foundation Years Clinical Cases Database is​ a selection of 600 peer-reviewed clinical cases in the field of patient safety and clinical practice, specifically focused on the clinical information needs of junior doctors, based around the Foundation Year Curriculum programme (MMC). The cases have been chosen to align with the Foundation Year Curriculum.

The database is fully searchable, or can be browsed by medical specialty. Abstracts can be read free of charge, however a subscription is required in order to read the complete cases.