Respiratory rate assessment is best done from a distance
Updated February 5, 2015
Assess the patient's breathing with a look and listen approach from the doorway
One of my first EMT partners always stopped in the doorway as I approached the patient's chair or bed. I would begin my assessment and a little more than 30 seconds later, he would walk over to me and say, "The patient's respiratory rate is…"
Look and listen from a distance
I learned from my partner that it is often easier to count a patient’s respiratory rate by looking and listening from a few feet away.
- Look for chest rise and fall, clothing bunching, and nose or lip movement.
- Listen for the sounds of exhalation and inhalation.
Counting respirations from the doorway also eliminates the awkwardness of staring at a patient’s face or chest for 30 seconds from less than a foot away.
Share your vital sign assessment tips and questions in the comments area.