Measuring Someone’s Vital Signs

All vital signs are significant. They show how well important organs of the body, such as the heart and lungs are functioning. You may be called upon to take person’s vital signs. The four vital signs are the person’s pulse, temperature, respiration, and blood pressure. Also, vital signs should be taken on a regular basis for your own good: this helps you to know what is normal for the individual so that you can monitor changes and identify them as signs or symptoms of sickness.

Please note that ALL vital signs must be taken when the PERSON is “at rest.” You must wait 30 minutes to take a temperature, pulse, respiration, or blood pressure if an individual had a hot or cold drink, eaten, just smoked, or exercised.


Temperature: Oral 97.6 – 99.6 Rectal 98.6 – 100.6 Axillary 96.6 – 98.6

Pulse: 60 – 90 beats per minute

Respiration : 12 – 28 breaths per minute

Blood pressure: Systolic (top number) should be less than 130 Diastolic (bottom number) should be less than 85

Before beginning any procedure:

  • Have all equipment clean and ready to use
  • Wash your hands
  • Identify the individual
  • Introduce yourself only if it is necessary
  • Go to a private or quiet area
  • Explain the procedure to the patient
  • Always document your results

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