CNA Skill: Count and Record a Radial Pulse

Anytime you are going to provide care for your patients, you will need to follow hand washing procedures.  You will then greet your patient and tell him or her why you are there.  Explain any procedures you are going to perform.  Additionally, you should always check a patient’s identity band to ensure you are working with the correct patient.

Lift your patient’s hand and place your index and middle finger by their thumb.  Move your fingers to the hallow of their wrist so that you can take their pulse.  You will need to apply some gentle pressure until you can feel their pulse.  You can count their number of beats for 30 seconds.  To calculate their pulse rate per minute, simply multiply that number by two.  If you have a patient with an irregular heart rate, you should count their pulse for an entire minute.  Their pulse rate should be recorded in their chart.

Once again, you will want to wash your hands after working with a patient.

There are some signs to look for if you think that a patient might have an irregular heart rate.  Ideally an adult’s pulse rate will be between 60 and 80 beats every minute.  Some patients will have a lower heart rate as the result of medication they are taking.  Individuals who are at rest or who are physically fit can have lower heart rates as well.

Patients who are under stress, can have an increased heart rate.  The same is true of someone who has had a recent intake of caffeine.  Illegal drugs can also increase the heart rate.  Of course some medications will actually increase a patient’s heart rate.

You will typically notice an increased heart rate in a patient with an infection or a patient who has a fever.  The same is true of patient’s with bleeding that is not controlled.

Any concerns about a patient’s heart rate should be reported to the appropriate person as instructed in your list of duties.

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