patient as possible. No single vital sign should be used to drive the care that you provide. Baseline Vital Signs Vital signs can alert you to problems that require immediate attention. Taken at regular intervals, they can help you determine if the patient’s condition is getting better, worse, or staying the same. GERIATRIC FOCUS: Obtaining accurate vital signs from an elderly patient can be challenging. Small, frail arms can make it painful when you try to get a blood pressure. The bones of the chest have become more rigid, making it more difficult to see chest rise and fall. You may have to use other techniques, such as listening for breath sounds or watching the movement of the abdomen when counting respirations. The first vital signs you take from your patient are the baseline vital signs. All subsequent vital signs are compared to the baseline set. This comparison helps determine if the patient is stable or unstable, improving or growing worse, and benefiting or not benefiting from the care you are providing. For example, comparing baseline vital signs before and after initiating an intervention such as administering oxygen can give clues as to whether the oxygen is helping the patient. baseline vital signs defined the very first set of vital signs obtained on a patient. OBJECTIVE 6. Explain the role that monitoring vital signs plays in the overall assessment and care of the patient.
Trending One of the values of obtaining and documenting vital signs is that they can be trended. Trending is the process of comparing multiple sets of vital signs from the same patient over time. Vitals signs can change for the better or change for the worse, or they can remain generally the same. Each represents a trend and can provide valuable information about your patient. trending defined the act of comparing multiple sets of signs and symptoms over time to determine if the patient’s condition is worsening, improving, or remaining the same. A careful analysis of vital signs can alert you to current or developing problems. For example, the presence of cool, moist skin along with a rapid pulse and increased breathing rate can indicate possible shock in the presence of a significant mechanism of injury. Hot, dry skin with a rapid pulse could indicate a serious heat-related emergency. You can determine which patients are a high priority for immediate transport by taking and closely monitoring their vital signs. A patient with abnormal vital signs to begin with, or the patient whose vital signs are getting worse, is a high priority for rapid transport. For an adult patient, a continuous pulse rate of below 60 beats per minute or above 100 beats per minute is considered abnormal. Likewise, a respiratory rate above 30 breaths per minute or below 10 breaths per minute is considered abnormal and may require some intervention. However, vital signs differ for everyone. They also can change. And they are affected by factors other than the patient’s medical condition. The temperature of the environment, exercise, and even emotions can all affect a person’s
- Spring '17