Nursing lab assignment: differential diagnosis for skin conditions

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 Properly identifying the cause and type of a patient’s skin condition involves a process of elimination known as differential diagnosis. Using this process, a health professional can take a given set of physical abnormalities, vital signs, health assessment findings, and patient descriptions of symptoms, and incrementally narrow them down until one diagnosis is determined as the most likely cause.

In this Lab Assignment, you will examine several visual representations of various skin conditions, describe your observations, and use the techniques of differential diagnosis to determine the most likely condition.


  • Review the Skin Conditions document provided in this week’s Learning Resources, and select one condition to closely examine for this Lab Assignment.
  • Consider the abnormal physical characteristics you observe in the graphic you selected. How would you describe the characteristics using clinical terminologies?
  • Explore different conditions that could be the cause of the skin abnormalities in the graphics you selected.
  • Consider which of the conditions is most likely to be the correct diagnosis, and why.
  • Search the Walden library for one evidence-based practice, peer-reviewed article based on the skin condition you chose for this Lab Assignment.
  • Review the Comprehensive SOAP Exemplar found in this week’s Learning Resources to guide you as you prepare your SOAP note.
  • Download the SOAP Template found in this week’s Learning Resources, and use this template to complete this Lab Assignment.


  • Choose one skin condition graphic (identify by number in your Chief Complaint) to document your assignment in the SOAP (Subjective, Objective, Assessment, and Plan) note format rather than the traditional narrative style. Refer to Chapter 2 of the Sullivan text and the Comprehensive SOAP Template in this week’s Learning Resources for guidance. Remember that not all comprehensive SOAP data are included in every patient case.
  • Use clinical terminologies to explain the physical characteristics featured in the graphic. Formulate a differential diagnosis of five possible conditions for the skin graphic that you chose. Determine which is most likely to be the correct diagnosis and explain your reasoning using at least three different references, one reference from current evidence-based literature from your search and two different references from this week’s Learning Resources.

Week 4

Skin Comprehensive SOAP Note Template

Patient Initials: _______ Age: _______ Gender: _______


Chief Complaint (CC):

History of Present Illness (HPI):



Past Medical History (PMH):

Past Surgical History (PSH):

Sexual/Reproductive History:

Personal/Social History:

Health Maintenance:

Immunization History:

Significant Family History:

Review of Systems:




Cardiovascular/Peripheral Vascular:








Physical Exam:

Vital signs:





Heart/Peripheral Vascular:






Diagnostic results:


This section is not required for the assignments in this course (NURS 6512), but will be required for future courses.

© 2021 Walden University Page 2 of 3

Comprehensive SOAP Exemplar

Purpose: To demonstrate what each section of the SOAP note should include. Remember that Nurse Practitioners treat patients in a holistic manner and your SOAP note should reflect that premise.

Patient Initials: _______ Age: _______ Gender: _______


Chief Complaint (CC): Coughing up phlegm and fever

History of Present Illness (HPI): Eddie Myers is a 58 year old African American male who presents today with a productive cough x 3 days, fever, muscle aches, loss of taste and smell for the last three days. He reported that the “cold feels like it is descending into his chest and he can’t eat much”. The cough is nagging and productive. He brought in a few paper towels with expectorated phlegm – yellow/green in color. He has associated symptoms of dyspnea of exertion and fatigue. His Tmax was reported to be 100.3, last night. He has been taking Tylenol 325mg about every 6 hours and the fever breaks, but returns after the medication wears off. He rated the severity of her symptom discomfort at 8/10.


1.) Norvasc 10mg daily

2.) Combivent 2 puffs every 6 hours as needed

3.) Advair 500/50 daily

4.) Singulair 10mg daily

5.) Over the counter Tylenol 325mg as needed

6.) Over the counter Benefiber

7.) Flonase 1 spray each night as needed for allergic rhinitis symptoms


Sulfa drugs – rash


Past Medical History (PMH):

1.) Asthma

2.) Hypertension

3.) Osteopenia

4.) Allergic rhinitis

5.) Prostate Cancer

Past Surgical History (PSH):

1.) Cholecystectomy 1994

2.) Prostatectomy 1986

Sexual/Reproductive History:


Personal/Social History:

He has never smoked

Dipped tobacco for 25 years, no longer dipping

Denied ETOH or illicit drug use.

Immunization History:

Covid Vaccine #1 3/2/2021 #2 4/2/2021 Moderna

Influenza Vaccination 10/3/2020

PNV 9/18/2018

Tdap 8/22/2017

Shingles 3/22/2016

Significant Family History:

One sister – with diabetes, dx at age 65

One brother–with prostate CA, dx at age 62. He has 2 daughters, both in 30’s, healthy, living in nearby neighborhood.


He works FT as Xray Tech; widowed x 8 years; lives in the city, moderate crime area, with good public transportation. He is a college grad, owns his home and financially stable.

He has a primary care nurse practitioner provider and goes for annual and routine care twice annually and as needed for episodic care. He has medical insurance but often asks for drug samples for cost savings. He has a healthy diet and eating pattern. There are resources and community groups in his area at the senior center but he does not attend. He enjoys golf and walking. He has a good support system composed of family and friends.

Review of Systems:

General: + fatigue since the illness started; + fever, no chills or night sweats; no recent weight gains of losses of significance.

HEENT: no changes in vision or hearing; he does wear glasses and his last eye exam was 6 months ago. He reported no history of glaucoma, diplopia, floaters, excessive tearing or photophobia. He does have bilateral small cataracts that are being followed by his ophthalmologist. He has had no recent ear infections, tinnitus, or discharge from the ears. He reported no sense of smell. He has not had any episodes of epistaxis. He does not have a history of nasal polyps or recent sinus infection. He has history of allergic rhinitis that is seasonal. His last dental exam was 1/2020. He denied ulceration, lesions, gingivitis, gum bleeding, and has no dental appliances. He has had no difficulty chewing or swallowing.

Neck: Denies pain, injury, or history of disc disease or compression..

Breasts:. Denies history of lesions, masses or rashes.

Respiratory: + cough and sputum production; denied hemoptysis, no difficulty breathing at rest; + dyspnea on exertion; he has history of asthma and community acquired pneumonia 2015. Last PPD was 2015. Last CXR – 1 month ago.

CV: denies chest discomfort, palpitations, history of murmur; no history of arrhythmias, orthopnea, paroxysmal nocturnal dyspnea, edema, or claudication. Date of last ECG/cardiac work up is unknown by patient.

GI: denies nausea or vomiting, reflux controlled, Denies abd pain, no changes in bowel/bladder pattern. He uses fiber as a daily laxative to prevent constipation.

GU: denies change in her urinary pattern, dysuria, or incontinence. He is heterosexual. No denies history of STD’s or HPV. He is sexually active with his long time girlfriend of 4 years.

MS: he denies arthralgia/myalgia, no arthritis, gout or limitation in her range of motion by report. denies history of trauma or fractures.

Psych: denies history of anxiety or depression. No sleep disturbance, delusions or mental health history. He denied suicidal/homicidal history.

Neuro: denies syncopal episodes or dizziness, no paresthesia, head aches. denies change in memory or thinking patterns; no twitches or abnormal movements; denies history of gait disturbance or problems with coordination. denies falls or seizure history.

Integument/Heme/Lymph: denies rashes, itching, or bruising. She uses lotion to prevent dry skin. He denies history of skin cancer or lesion removal. She has no bleeding disorders, clotting difficulties or history of transfusions.

Endocrine: He denies polyuria/polyphagia/polydipsia. Denies fatigue, heat or cold intolerances, shedding of hair, unintentional weight gain or weight loss.

Allergic/Immunologic: He has hx of allergic rhinitis, but no known immune deficiencies. His last HIV test was 2 years ago.


Physical Exam:

Vital signs: B/P 144/98, left arm, sitting, regular cuff; P 90 and regular; T 99.9 Orally; RR 16; non-labored; Wt: 221 lbs; Ht: 5’5; BMI 36.78

General: A&O x3, NAD, appears mildly uncomfortable

HEENT: PERRLA, EOMI, oronasopharynx is clear

Neck: Carotids no bruit, jvd or thyromegally

Chest/Lungs: Lungs pos wheezing, pos for scattered rhonchi

Heart/Peripheral Vascular: RRR without murmur, rub or gallop; pulses+2 bilat pedal and +2 radial

ABD: nabs x 4, no organomegaly; mild suprapubic tenderness – diffuse – no rebound

Genital/Rectal: pt declined for this exam

Musculoskeletal: symmetric muscle development – some age related atrophy; muscle strengths 5/5 all groups.

Neuro: CN II – XII grossly intact, DTR’s intact

Skin/Lymph Nodes: No edema, clubbing, or cyanosis; no palpable nodes

Diagnostics/Lab Tests and Results:

CBC – WBC 15,000 with + left shift

SAO2 – 98%

Covid PCR-neg

Influenza- neg


CXR – cardiomegaly with air trapping and increased AP diameter


Normal sinus rhythm

Spirometry- FEV1 65%


Differential Diagnosis (DDx):

1.) Asthmatic exacerbation, moderate

2.) Pulmonary Embolism

3.) Lung Cancer

Primary Diagnoses:

1.) Asthmatic Exacerbation, moderate

PLAN: [This section is not required for the assignments in this course, but will be required for future courses.]

© 2021 Walden University Page 4 of 4

© 2021 Walden University Page 3 of 4

12/19/23, 4:31 PM Week 4: Assignment 2 4/5

Criteria Ratings Pts

60 pts

40 pts

Student DCE
percentages will
be calculated
automatically by
Shadow Health
after the
assignment is
DCE Score – Do
not round up on
the DCE score.

60 to >55.0 pts

DCE score>93

55 to >50.0 pts

DCE Score 86-

50 to >45.0 pts

DCE Score 80-

45 to >0 pts

DCE Score <79… No DCE

in Provider Note
in Provider Note
Template is
detailed and
organized and
includes: Chief
Complaint (CC),
HPI, Current
Allergies, Past
Medical History,
Family History,
Social History
and Review of
covers all body
systems that
may help you
formulate a list of
diagnoses. You
should list each
system as
follows: General:
Head: EENT:
etc. You should
list these in
bullet format and
document the

40 to >35.0 pts

Documentation is detailed
and organized with all
pertinent information noted
in professional
includes all pertinent
documentation to include
Chief Complaint (CC),
HPI, Current Medications,
Allergies, Past Medical
History, Family History,
Social History and Review
of Systems (ROS).

35 to >30.0 pts

Documentation with
sufficient details, some
organization and some
pertinent information noted
in professional
provides some of the Chief
Complaint (CC), HPI,
Current Medications,
Allergies, Past Medical
History, Family History,
Social History and Review
of Systems (ROS).

30 to >25.0 pts

with inadequate
details and/or
organization; and
information noted
in professional
provided to
analyze students
critical thinking
abilities for the
Chief Complaint
(CC), HPI, Current
Allergies, Past
Medical History,
Family History,
Social History and
Review of
Systems (ROS).

25 to >0 pts

lacks any
details and/or
and does not
noted in
information is
provided for
the Chief
(CC), HPI,
Allergies, Past
History, Family
History, Social
History and
Review of

12/19/23, 4:31 PM Week 4: Assignment 2 5/5

Total Points: 100

Criteria Ratings Pts

systems in order
from head to toe.

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