Due to a player shortage tonight I had to quickly roll a healer. Due to time I let the DM do most of it for me as I'm still pretty new. I did the naming and rolled for my stats but I let him pick my spells and cantrips. One that he gave me is Spare the Dying.

Now that we're done playing I'm reading up on the spells and even class to see if I want to change anything should I need to play the Healer again. Some websites say Spare the Dying makes no sense when you can just use Healer's Kit.

In the PHB on page 151 the Healer's Kit reads:

This kit is a leather pouch containing bandages, salves, and splints. The kit has ten uses. As an action, you can expend one use of the kit to stabilize a creature that has 0 hit points, without needing to make a Wisdom (Medicine) check.

That last clause, without needing to make a Wisdom (Medicine) check, is interesting to me. It seems to imply if you are proficient in Medicine there is a way to stabilize someone without the kit. I did become proficient in Medicine and History. Is there a way for me to stabilize without using the Healer's Kit? If not, then what is the point in the clause about Medicine check?


1 Answer 1


Yes, you can stabilize a dying creature with a Medicine check. The chapter Using Ability Scores includes examples of what each type of ability check is used for. This is one of the only listed examples of a Medicine check.

Medicine. A Wisdom (Medicine) check lets you try to stabilize a dying companion or diagnose an illness.

Then, under the rules on dropping to 0 hit points:

You can use your action to administer first aid to an unconscious creature and attempt to stabilize it, which requires a successful DC 10 Wisdom (Medicine) check.

Note that, as it's a static DC 10 check, if you can get a +9 modifier to your Medicine check, your success is guaranteed and both healing kits and Spare the Dying become obsolete.

  • 5
    \$\begingroup\$ Just for clarity: the +9 assumes you don't use the popular "rolling a 1 always fails/rolling a 1 always fails critically" house rule. \$\endgroup\$
    – Nzall
    Commented May 2, 2017 at 7:46
  • 9
    \$\begingroup\$ Healing kits are still very useful along with the Healer feat, should the OP decide to take it. Although my character now has +9 Medicine, I never use the skill to stabilise a fallen ally, since the extra hit points from using the healing kit along with Healer feat allow for much less reliance on Cure Wounds. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 2, 2017 at 11:33
  • 8
    \$\begingroup\$ Also note that with the Grave domain for Clerics in XGtE, being able to use Spare the Dying from 30' as a bonus action is one case where it is far from obsolete. \$\endgroup\$
    – Nick Brown
    Commented Feb 9, 2018 at 18:37
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Frustratingly though, a patient with a lingering injury, disease, or poison can Recuperate all by themselves to eventually resolve the condition. You would think proficiency with the Medicine skill would have a defined mechanic for giving Advantage to a patient's saving throws to resolve these, but nope. Might want to have a talk with your DM in advance to figure out how that will work in your group. \$\endgroup\$
    – JamesB
    Commented Jul 9, 2019 at 17:26

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