Chapter 3: Pulse and Respiration

Test Yourself: List in the Correct Order

List the steps below in the correct order for each of the following techniques. Write your list on a piece of paper.

Radial Pulse Technique

  • Note the rate, rhythm, force, and equality when measuring the radial pulse
  • Use the pads of your first three fingers to gently palpate the radial pulse along the radius bone close to the flexor aspect of the wrist
  • Press down with your fingers until you can best feel the pulsation

Carotid Pulse Technique

  • Gently palpate the carotid artery one at a time
  • Note the rate, rhythm, force, and equality when measuring the carotid pulse
  • Locate the carotid artery medial to the sternomastoid muscle in the middle third of the neck
  • Ask the client to sit upright.

Apical Pulse Technique

  • Physically palpate the intercostal spaces to locate the landmark of the apical pulse
  • Ask the client to lay flat in a supine position
  • Note the rate and rhythm
  • Auscultate the apical pulse

Brachial Pulse Technique

  • Move your fingers medial from the tendon and about one inch above the antecubital fossa to locate the brachial pulse
  • Palpate the bicep tendon in the area of the antecubital fossa
  • Note the rate and rhythm

Respiration Technique

  • Count for 30 seconds if the rhythm is regular or for a full minute if it is irregular
  • Observe the rise and fall of the chest or abdomen
  • Leave your fingers in place when you are done counting the pulse, and then begin assessing respiration
  • Report the respirations as breaths per minute, as well as whether breathing is relaxed, silent, and has a regular rhythm
Go to the next page to see the correct order of steps for these techniques.



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Vital Sign Measurement Across the Lifespan - 1st Canadian edition Copyright © 2018 by Ryerson University is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.