Title Presentation and Management of Breathlessness
Type Stage Two
Code HPS160
Requirement Compulsory

Module objective

By the end of this module the Clinical Scientist in HSST, with respect to the diagnosis, presentation and management of the patient with breathlessness, will be able to analyse, synthesise, evaluate and apply their knowledge, to be competent to carry out specialist assessment and form a structured differential diagnosis of causes leading to appropriate further investigation and effective management, within the scope of a Consultant Clinical Scientist.

Knowledge and understanding

By the end of this module the Clinical Scientist in HSST will analyse, synthesise, evaluate and critically apply their expert knowledge required with respect to the: 

  • causes of breathlessness.
  • differentiation of cardiac and respiratory causes and appreciation of when signs and symptoms are outside scope of current role, e.g. neuromuscular, metabolic etc.
  • pathogenesis of causes of breathlessness.
  • management/treatment of breathlessness linked to underlying diagnosis.
  • pharmacology of drugs used for breathlessness.
  • relevant guidelines.

Technical and clinical skills

By the end of this module the Clinical Scientist in HSST will be expected to critically reflect and apply in practice a range of clinical and communication skills to advise and communicate effectively with patients, relevant clinicians, patients and the public and other healthcare professionals and will:

  • gain informed consent.
  • take a thorough, focused history within limits of respiratory practice.
  • elicit relevant and appropriate physical signs within Consultant Clinical Scientist scope of practice.
  • plan appropriate investigations in collaboration with medical colleagues where necessary.
  • formulate an appropriate differential diagnosis and management plan.
  • interpret appropriate Lung Function Tests.
  • interpret Chest Radiology.
  • interpret V/Q scans.
  • perform and / or interpret special investigations.

Attitudes and behaviours

By the end of this module the Clinical Scientist in HSST will be expected to evaluate their own response to both normal and complex situations demonstrating the professional attributes and insights required of a Consultant Clinical Scientist working within the limits of professional competence referring as appropriate to senior staff and will:

  • recognise, where necessary, the urgency of the situation and to expedite management appropriately.
  • consider most important and serious causes first and seeks to exclude them and/or consider referral to other speciality where appropriate.
  • show understanding of the patient’s anxiety and be sympathetic.
  • appreciate the need to relieve the distress of breathlessness, when appropriate.
  • explain the possible causes to patient and relatives where appropriate and within the scope of practice for a Consultant Clinical Scientist and outlines the investigation and management plan.
  • involve the multi-disciplinary team when appropriate.


Code Title Action
HPS1-3-1-20 Respiratory & Sleep Science (Adult) [v1] View
HPS1-3-2-20 Respiratory & Sleep Science (Paediatric) [v1] View