How to Monitor for the Respiratory Rate
Monitoring a client’s respiration rate is essential to facilitate the evaluation of medical treatment and nursing interventions.
Equipment: A digital watch or watch with a second hand, together with an appropriate chart for recording, is required. The procedures and rationales are given below.
Procedure & Rationales:
- Explain procedure and ensure adequate understanding. Promote client co-operation and obtain informed consent, though this step is often omitted where there is a danger that the person may voluntarily control their breathing and thus alter the rate.
- Count respirations as chest rises and falls for a period of one minute. To monitor rate and compare to normal values: New-born: 30–80 rpm Early childhood: 20–40 rpm Late childhood: 15–25 rpm Adult male: 14–18 rpm Adult female: 16–20 rpm.
- Observe depth of respirations. To monitor depth and compare to normal breathes - usually shallow and effortless.
- Listen for breath sounds, e.g. stridor, wheeze. To monitor sounds and compare to normal breathes - usually almost inaudible.
- Observe pattern of breathing and use of accessory muscles. To monitor pattern and compare to normal breathes - usually effortless.
- Observe color of skin/mucous membranes, e.g. pallor, cyanosis. To ensure that adequate oxygen is getting to the tissues.
- Record rate on appropriate chart and report any abnormalities. Legal requirement to maintain documentation and safeguard client through good communications.
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