Vital Signs

A common duty of a certified nurse’s assistant is assessing vital signs. The most common vital signs assessed are temperature, pulse, respiratory rate, blood pressure and pain. When assessing for temperature it is commonly taken orally or in the mouth which involves using a themometer, placing it under the patient’s tongue. It can also be taken actuarily, which is under the arm which is not as accurate or rectally, which is very accurate in most cases. Pulse is another vital sign which is measuring the number of heart beats per minute. It is generally calculated by feeling or palpating the radial pulse and it needs to be counted for a minute; however, if the pulse or the heartbeat is regular meaning it is a steady beat then it can be checked for 15 seconds or even 30 seconds and if you count for 15 then multiply by 4 to get the number of heartbeats per minute. If you count for 30 seconds then you would multiply by 2 to get the number of heartbeats per minute. Respiratory rate the number of times the patient breathes in and out for an entire minute. Again, if it’s a regular rate it can be counted for 15 to 30 seconds and multiplied or it can be counted for an entire minute for the most accuracy. Blood pressure is measured – is a measurement of pressure exerted on the arteries. It is measured in systolic and dyastolic. Systolic blood pressure is the top number and is the pressure exerted on the arteries during the contraction of the heart. For a normal, healthy, average blood pressure, it would be 120 systolic. The dyastolic blood pressure is the number that is on the bottom. It is the lower number and it is and it is the amount of pressure that is exerted on the arteries during dyastolly or the resting period between contractions of the heart. A common number would be 80. So 120 over 80 would be considered average or normal blood pressure. However, this will vary greatly even among heaelthy patients and especially patients that are sick or have some type of disorder. The last vital sign that we want to assess is pain which is the patient’s perception of their pain. First, you ask them if they have pain and if they do then you want to have their description of the pain and possibly have them rate it such as on a scale from 0 to 10 which 0 being no pain and 10 being the most severe pain ever you ask them how would they rate their pain and remember that this number is very subjective and that there is no right or wrong answer and one person’s five may be another person’s two so it just as important on a patient to ask them what their rating of their pain is. So as a nurse’s aid when you’re asked to take vital signs, these are the things that you will need to assess — the temperature, the pulse or the heart rate, the respiratory rate, the blood pressure and the patient’s pain.


Provided by: Mometrix Test Preparation

Last updated: 07/25/2017
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