Respiratory Rate Assessment

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Vital Signs Assessment
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Respiratory Rate[edit | edit source]

Respirations are recorded as breaths per minute. Respirations is measured by rate, effort, and the presence or absence of adventitious or abnormal lung sounds. To obtain an accurate rate, it is important that the patient is not aware that you are counting their respirations so that they do not consciously alter their rate of breathing. This can be done by observing the rise and fall of the patient's chest while you still appear to be taking their pulse. To obtain a patient's respiratory vital signs:

  1. Keep your fingers on the patients wrist, and observe the patient's chest/abdomen area.
  2. Watch the rise and fall of the chest/abdomen and count the breaths (a full in and out cycle is one breath) for 30 seconds and multiple by 2, will give you the patients rate for one minute.
  3. Note if the breathing is labored, irregular, has abnormal sounds on inspiration or expiration, or if the patient is using accessory muscles to breathe.
  4. Auscultate breath sounds with your stethoscope in the upper and lower fields of each lung.

Normal for adults is between 12 and 20 breaths per minute with "clear lung sounds". Adventitious, or abnormal, breath sounds should be noted.