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.
Join the discussion
The comments below are member-generated and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of EMS1.com or its staff. If you cannot see comments, try disabling privacy and ad blocking plugins in your browser. All comments must comply with our Member Commenting Policy.
EMS1 Top 5
- Why no one will ever understand you like your EMS partner
- From EMS provider to taxi driver: The abuse of the 911 system
- Quiz: How accurately can you triage 10 MCI patients?
- Suit: Ambulance company denied rest breaks to paramedics, EMTs
- Paramedic severely hurt in helicopter crash fired from flight position