Pulse

Follow along in your Skills Book, CNA Skills Study Guide 4th Edition Page 35.

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Measure and Record Pulse

a 4YourCNA Lesson

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  • Count for one full minute, as per the care plan
  • Use the radial pulse at the wrist
  • In Florida you will have to count with each evaluator
  • Normal range is from 60-100, report abnormals
  • Don't forget to document after handwashing

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Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, for the exam the pulse must be measured for one full minute. Although in many clinical settings healthcare workers may be permitted to count for 15 seconds and multiply by four, or 30 seconds and multiply by two, this is not permitted on the exam (because that is not what THIS patient needs – remember all patients will require different care). When evaluating the pulse, the CNA is not just counting the number of pulses felt underneath the fingers.  It is just as important for the CNA to also evaluate the quality of the pulse. Counting for less than one minute may reduce the accuracy of the pulse reading and does not allow the CNA sufficient time to evaluate the quality of the pulse.

All pulse readings must be documented on the documentation sheet provided by the evaluator.  The student should document the results after performing their closing and washing their hands.

Anything that goes home with you at the end of the day (like your keys, pens, cell phone or lunch box) can be contaminated by your unclean hands.  Those items can then spread pathogens (disease causing organisms) into your home.  You should make it a habit to only touch these items with clean hands.

By keeping the patient informed of every step that you are going to be performing, the patient will feel more like a partner in their healthcare. This reduces anxiety and increases patient compliance. By letting the patient know that you will be counting their pulse for one full minute, and the patient should remain quiet during this time, the patient is less likely to interrupt you in the middle of your reading.

Gloves should be worn only when there is a potential to be exposed to blood and body fluids, touching personal skin or touching non-intact skin.  They should not be worn for routine skin contact.  Gloves will make it more difficult to measure the pulse.

The care plan will define what skills are required for you to perform on each individual patient. CNA’s are not allowed to deviate from the care plan. For the exam, the care plan will specifically instruct you to obtain a pulse on the patient.

Currently, Prometric care plans indicate that the patient for this skill be positioned in a bed. This keeps the testing uniform among all testing centers. However, CNAs should be aware of how to perform the skill on a patient in a variety of positions.

No.  The state will assign you 3 skills to perform (in addition to hand washing and indirect care).  This skill MAY be one of those assigned, but not necessarily.

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