Vital Sign Monitoring and Nurse-Patient Interaction
Vital signs are the most basic, core elements of nursing care. Vital sign monitoring is a nursing intervention that measures a patient’s heart rate, respiratory rate, blood pressure, and temperature. These are the “vital” signs because they are indicators of how well a patient is doing, which help assess the overall health of patients and determine whether they are improving or worsening over time.
Vital signs are monitored for two main reasons: to make sure that patients are healthy enough for surgery or other procedures and to keep track of recovery after surgery or other procedures. Nurses need to know how fast or slow the patient’s heart is beating to assess if there's any danger from going forward with a procedure (like surgery), or if they need to take extra precautions. It is also important for them to know what changes have happened since their last visit to determine if something needs further investigation or treatment.
Monitoring vital signs is integral to nursing care as it provides valuable information about whether any medications are working as intended or need to be adjusted. When nurses monitor a patient's vital signs, they look for specific changes that indicate an issue with the body. Monitoring vital signs helps nurses identify when a patient has an elevated heart rate or blood pressure, which could indicate dehydration or shock; rapid breathing, which could indicate respiratory distress; or low blood pressure, which could indicate shock.
Nurses are responsible for taking vital signs regularly, ensuring they can respond quickly if there is an emergency or change in the patient’s condition.
To take vital signs, nurses will use blood pressure cuffs and thermometers to measure pulse rate and temperature. They will also listen to their patients' lungs with stethoscopes and palpate their abdomen to check for tenderness or swelling. If problems are detected during this process, they may need additional tests, such as checking urine samples or performing EKGs.
The nursing responsibilities during vital signs monitoring include taking the patient's history and performing physical examinations. The history includes asking about any medical conditions affecting the patient's health. Physical examinations include checking for body temperature, blood pressure, and other physical findings like rashes or bruises, which may indicate underlying medical problems.
Nurses are responsible for taking vital signs and ensuring they are accurate using proper equipment and technique. In addition to monitoring vital signs, nurses provide patient education and comfort measures. They help patients understand their conditions and treatment regimens to make informed decisions about their health. Nurses also help with any pain management needs by providing medication or other interventions as needed by the patient or doctor.
Nurses should always follow protocol when taking vital signs so that they get accurate results every time without having to repeat them multiple times, which can waste precious time when dealing with patients who may have urgent needs for care, such as those who have just undergone surgery or come into the ER after being involved in an accident.
Nurses are responsible for many tasks, and time management is essential to completing them. For example, getting stuck in an inefficient patient monitoring system leads to the inability to complete tasks at the required level of quality, which may affect patient outcomes.
Effective time management helps get more work done, produces a higher work quality, and provides fewer missed deadlines. Additionally, there is a better sense of self-control, improved self-image, and decreased stress with good time organization.
A 2015 study by Cardona-Morell, et al., concluded that the selection of appropriate vital signs measured and responses to these appears to rely on nurses’ clinical judgment or time availability rather than on policy-mandated frequency, with the prevalence of incomplete sets of vital signs potentially limiting the identification of deteriorating patients.
This is why the ViSi Mobile System can be a complete game-changer, as it is designed to provide continuous surveillance monitoring for patients in general care settings. It enables more efficient use of clinician time with less spot check monitoring, efficient vital signs management, and EHR integration.
Moreover, it improves patient safety by utilizing machine learning from millions of hours of patient data to recognize patient deterioration while minimizing alarm burden and maximizing clinical workflow. If we can help nurses detect patient deterioration early enough, further complications can be avoided.
Cardona-Morrell M, Prgomet M, Lake R, Nicholson M, Harrison R, Long J, Westbrook J, Braithwaite J, Hillman K. Vital signs monitoring and nurse-patient interaction: A qualitative observational study of hospital practice. Int J Nurs Stud. 2016 Apr;56:9-16. doi: 10.1016/j.ijnurstu.2015.12.007. Epub 2015 Dec 29. PMID: 26775214.