Taking Vital Signs

One of the most important duties of a CNA is to record the patient’s vital signs. Any dramatic change in the vital signs can indicate an abnormality, and the patient may require prompt treatment. The four important vital signs that the CNA has to record are temperature, blood pressure, pulse, and respiration. Let’s look at the guidelines for recording each of these vital signs:

Recording Temperature: Recording temperature is easier, as the CNA has to use a thermometer. However, the CNA should ensure that the temperature is recorded accurately and that the patient is not exposed to any pathogens on the thermometer. Temperature can be recorded orally, rectally or even by ear. The CNA should use the facility protocols and the proper method to ensure accurate recording. Normal body temperatures are 98 to 99 degree Fahrenheit. Any dramatic increase or decrease in the temperature should be promptly reported.

Recording Blood Pressure: A dramatic change in the blood pressure can indicate an emergency. So, it should be recorded accurately, so that the physician can prescribe appropriate treatment. A sphygmomanometer or a blood pressure gauge is used to take the patient’s blood pressure. The CNA records the systolic and the diastolic pressure of the patient using the device. Systolic is the pressure in the arteries that occurs during heartbeats. Diastolic is the pressure that occurs between heartbeats. Systolic pressure is indicated by the higher number and diastolic by the lower number.

Recording Pulse: Pulse rate indicates the number of times the heart beats per minute. The CNAs use their fingers to measure the patient’s pulse rate. The CNA places two fingers on the patient’s radial artery on the wrist and counts the number of pulses that occur in 15 seconds. That number is multiplied by 4. The number that is obtained is the patient’s pulse rate. In a normal person, a healthy pulse rate is 60-100 beats per minute.

Recording Respirations: The respiration rate is the number of breaths a patient takes per minute. The CNA counts the number of times the chest rises in 15 seconds and then multiplies that number by 4. The number obtained is the respiration rate of the patient. The CNA should also pay close attention to any breathing difficulties when recording the respiration rate, and report immediately to the supervisor if any abnormality is noticed.