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Pediatric Respiratory Assessment Step 1–4 (Nursing)

by Paula Ruedebusch

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    00:01 Now we will cover the components of a pediatric respiratory assessment.

    00:06 There are a couple steps to the respiratory clinical exam.

    00:09 This includes history taking, inspection, palpation, percussion, and auscultation.

    00:15 We'll touch on all of these.

    00:17 First, the history.

    00:19 When you take a history from a patient, you need to really listen carefully.

    00:23 Ask clarifying questions.

    00:25 And this information is going to usually come from the parents and caregivers.

    00:30 Sometimes, depending on the patient's age, you can also interview the child, and you want to do a thorough chart review.

    00:36 You will get a lot of your clinical answers by looking through the chart.

    00:40 Next, you ask about the history of present illness.

    00:43 This is, why is the patient there? You're going to ask about the origin; when did their concerns start? How long has this been going on? And what's the progression of their concern? Is there anything that makes their symptoms worse, and is there anything that makes their symptoms better? And what have they tried to remedy this condition? Next, you'll ask about their past medical and surgical history.

    01:07 And this is sort of the, what happened before? You may or may not know this pediatric patient and this will, sort of, set the scene.

    01:14 Do they have any sort of respiratory history, and this includes patients with asthma, have they ever had pneumonia? Do they have any allergic disorders like eczema, urticaria, which are hives or hay fever, because we know that allergic conditions are also associated with certain respiratory conditions.

    01:32 Has the patient ever been put in the hospital, and have they ever had surgery? Are there any previous radiology studies such as a chest X-ray that can be helpful in comparing with today's studies? What is your patient's immunization status? Are they up to date on vaccines? A lot of conditions that cause respiratory problems are vaccine preventable.

    01:54 Next, you want to delve into the family and social history.

    01:58 This includes secondhand smoke exposure, and is there any family history of asthma or similar conditions because these are familial? Next, we'll move on to the inspection category.

    02:09 This involves a primary observation of your patient's respiratory movements.

    02:13 You're going to assess for the respiratory rate.

    02:16 Now, for infants, you're going to count for 1 full minute because the respiratory rhythm or tempo can vary significantly.

    02:22 In older children and adults, you can do 30 seconds and multiply it by 2.

    02:27 You'll assess the respiratory rhythm.

    02:29 Is this regular, is it irregular, or periodic? You're going to look at the depth of respirations.

    02:35 Is your patient breathing deeply, or do they have shallow breathing? What is the quality? Are they working to breathe or are they calm? If it's unlabored, that's normal.

    02:46 They're calm.

    02:47 They're breathing well.

    02:48 If it's labored, that means they have increased respiratory effort.

    02:52 Next, you want to assess the breath sounds without any listening device, and this is where you're just sitting next to your patient and listening for sounds coming when they breathe.

    03:02 The normal pediatric respiratory rates are going to vary greatly based on the age of the patient, and this is really important for the nurse and the clinician to know.

    03:10 So, here we see, starting with premature babies, all the way down to >12 year olds, there's extreme variation on the normal respiratory rate and breaths/minute.

    03:20 On the right hand column, the heart rate's going to vary as well.

    03:24 The nurse really needs to know the ballpark of these norms to know if your patient is in, sort of, a red flag zone; too fast or too slow.

    03:31 So you're going to want to pay attention to these numbers.

    03:35 The next step is palpation, and this is where the clinician's going to assess the temperature and integrity of the skin.

    03:42 They're going to palpate for cervical and axillary lymph adenopathy.

    03:47 And this means palpate the lymph nodes in the neck and in the armpit.

    03:50 These are the chains that filter the chest wall and the lungs and these can enlarge with certain conditions.

    03:56 You're going to palpate for bulges, abnormal movements, and tenderness.

    04:00 Next, you're going to check for symmetric respiratory excursion or chest expansion.

    04:05 And this is where the provider puts their hands along the patient's spine, and you have the patient take a big, deep breath.

    04:12 When they're maximally inhaled, their hands will spread apart evenly.

    04:16 When the patient breathes out, the hand should come back together symmetrically.

    04:19 If they don't come back symmetrically, the patient may have a respiratory condition like a collapsed lung, which is a pneumothorax, or a consolidation or pneumonia.

    04:29 Next, the clinician will do tactile fremitus.

    04:32 This is where the clinician will assess the density of the structures below the skin by feeling for vibrations as the patient says, "99." An increase in tactile fremitus indicates denser or inflamed tissue, and that can be caused by certain diseases such as pneumonia.

    04:47 A decrease suggests air or fluid in the pleural space, which can be caused by onditions like asthma.

    04:54 Next, you're going to percuss your patient.

    04:56 This can help you determine if an air-filled or tissue-filled cavity is below the skin.

    05:02 Air filled structures produce a resonant sound, like a drum, and fluid or tissue-filled cavities generate a dull sound.

    05:10 This can be used to detect conditions like pneumonia or other infiltrations in your patient.

    05:15 So, this technique is more of an art than a science.

    05:18 This takes a lot of practice.

    05:21 Allow your hand to swing freely at the wrist, hammering your finger onto the target at the bottom of your down stroke.

    05:26 Your wrist has to stay relaxed because a stiff wrist is going to force you to push your finger into the target, and that's not going to get you the correct sound.

    05:33 This technique takes a while to discern the different sounds.

    05:37 Now when you percuss over the patient's chest and back, if you percuss over a bone, you're going to get a flat sound.

    05:43 When you reach the lungs, you're going to get a more tympanic or resonant sound, like a drum.

    05:48 And when you're over the patient's visceral organs, you're also going to get a flat sound.

    05:51 Remember, this technique is all in the wrists.


    About the Lecture

    The lecture Pediatric Respiratory Assessment Step 1–4 (Nursing) by Paula Ruedebusch is from the course Respiratory Disorders – Pediatric Nursing. It contains the following chapters:

    • Pediatric Respiratory Assessment Step 1–4
    • History Taken
    • Inspection
    • Palpation
    • Percussion

    Included Quiz Questions

    1. 22–38
    2. 30–45
    3. 20–24
    4. 16–22
    1. Palpation
    2. Percussion
    3. Auscultation
    4. Inspection
    1. Percussion
    2. Palpation
    3. Auscultation
    4. Inspection

    Author of lecture Pediatric Respiratory Assessment Step 1–4 (Nursing)

     Paula Ruedebusch

    Paula Ruedebusch


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