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Counting and Recording the Radial Pulse

Even a slight change in the pulse rate may be an indication of a serious problem. Pulse rate of the patients has to be checked regularly to keep note of the medical condition of a patient. This will prevent any complications in the future.

Points to be Considered while Checking Radial Pulse of the Patient

  • Wash your hands properly before coming in contact with the patient and after the entire procedure.
  • Ensure that the pulse is checked for 30 seconds or 60 seconds.
  • Never forget to multiply the count by 2 in case you are checking it for 30 seconds.
  • Pulse must be recorded as +2 and -2 beats of the pulse rate.


Guidelines to Help the Patient while Checking Radial Pulse

  • Wash your hands properly with antiseptic soap and lukewarm water. Then dry them with a clean towel.
  • Hold the patient’s hand and find the radial artery by placing your index and middle finger over the depressed portion of the patient’s wrist.
  •  Apply some force on the patient’s wrist by your index and middle finger to feel the pulse. Count the heart beat for 30 seconds once it becomes regular. This has to be multiplied by 2 to get the pulse rate.
  • In case, the heart beat is not regular; the count has to be taken for 60 seconds.
  • Calculated result has to be written in the medical chart of the patient.
  • Wash your hands properly after the entire procedure by using antiseptic soap and lukewarm water. This will prevent infection and germs from spreading.

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What does a CNA examiner observe when you exhibit this skill?

Here is a list of the things that an examiner notices while you perform this skill:

  • Whether you have rinsed your hands before checking the pulse.
  • The examiner will see whether you have positioned the patient accurately.
  • Whether you are able to find radial artery with index and middle finger.
  • If you have measured the pulse for 30 seconds or 1 minute (in case heartbeat is not regular).
  • If you multiply the count by 2 or not (in case, pulse rate is counted for 30 seconds).
  • If you know when to start measuring pulse and when to stop.
  • Whether the patient’s pulse rate values is within the range of +2 and -2, or not?
  • If you have washed your hands properly after you are done with measuring the pulse.

Expert Tips

Measuring of the pulse rate correctly and accurately is very important for diagnosing the overall health of the patient and having an idea about probable diseases that might occur in the future.

  • In most of the nursing homes, nurse aides measure the pulse rate for 15 seconds and then multiply it by 4. But you must follow the practice of measuring it for 30 seconds and then multiply it by 2.
  • Measure the pulse count again if you find the beat unsteady.
  • Pulse has to be measured regularly. Never skip the vital rounds, or leave the work for next CNA on visit as this is against the ethics.
  • Keep a track of patient’s vital signs and any deviation must be marked in the report card.