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Recording and Counting the Respiration Rate

The number of times, a person breathes in 60 seconds (or 1 minute), is called respiration rate. This gets changed when a person suffers from any medical condition or undergoes some kind of stress. It is, therefore, important to record and count the respiration rate of the patient regularly to prevent any serious problem in the future. While measuring the respiration rate of some patients, you may note a sudden dip or hike in the patient’s respiration rate. It is due to irregular breathing patterns, and you should note down any difference. Record the pulse rate before measuring the respiration rate for a more consistent reading.

Procedure to be Followed for Counting and Recording of the Respiration Rate

  • First step must be to rinse your hands properly with antiseptic soap and lukewarm water.
  • Monitor patient’s breathing rate carefully. One fall and rise in patient’s chest is equal to one respiration count. Examine for 60 seconds and count the breath. Check how deep the person is breathing.
  • Inform the nurse immediately, if you find the patient taking deep breaths.
  • Write the results of the breathing pattern over the medical chart of the patient.
  • Rinse off your hands properly, as you did at the beginning of the activity.

Important Guidelines

A person normally breathes 12-18 times in 1 minute. This count may decrease if the person lies down on his back during sleeping or takes narcotic drugs. This count increases if the person is under stress, performs rigorous physical activity, has pain due to some reasons or has some respiratory infection like asthma, etc.

What does an examiner notice?

There are a few important checkpoints which the examiner notices while you perform this activity:

  • Whether you washed hands before performing this skill.
  • If you checked the pulse before checking the respiratory rate.
  • Whether you know how to check the pulse i.e. by placing your forefinger and middle finger over the wrist of the patient.
  • Whether you double the result of the pulse rate, if you count it for 30 seconds, and if your evaluation of the patient’s pulse rate is within +2 and -2?
  • If you have washed your hands after the completion of activity?

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Expert’s Corner

A CNA professional must know how to measure the respiration rate of the patient properly. This is a significant diagnostic method that helps analyze many ailments. In most nursing homes, CNA experts measure the respiration rate every 15 seconds, and then multiply the resultant by 4. However, in actual practice, one must measure the respiration rate every 30 seconds and then multiply the resultant by 2. Count for 60 seconds in case of irregular beats.

Sometimes either the patient is not comfortable while you place your hand on his chest to measure the respiratory rate or you do not feel comfortable in checking the respiration in this manner. Depending upon your and patient’s comfort level and medical condition, you can follow these steps:

  • You must watch the breathing pattern of the patient very carefully for 60 seconds and then record your observation.
  • You must position your hand over the chest or abdomen of the patient and then must realize the breathing rate.

During the CNA examination, you must be aware of the standard count before measuring. In case, you have any kind of difficulty in counting the respiratory rate, let the examiner know about it. S/he will guide you in measuring correctly. Never try to use a fake result as you may be caught and fail in exam.