Interpretation of Vital Signs - What is Normal?
Video Learning Activity
Reviews of Activity
Disclosure & Legal
Overview of Activity
Need/Aim for Activity
Method of Delivery
Requirements for Successful Completion
CPD/CNE Contact Hours
Cite this VLA
This Video Learning Activity (VLA) provides a practical and easy to understand discussion about the assessment of vital signs and explores the issue of the interpretation of vital signs relative to the circumstances under which the assessment occurs.
- A critical discussion on the concept of ‘normal’ and ‘normal ranges’
- Sensitivity and specificity: why these matter
- Why a misunderstanding of ‘normal’ can generate unwarranted interventions
- The importance of understanding the relationship between assessment findings and the context of interpretation
- Correct measurement, ranges, variations and abnormalities of heart rate, blood pressure, temperature and respiratory rate
This VLA will be of interest to nurses and midwifes in most areas, but those practising in the following fields may find it of particular relevance:
- Acute care
- Clinical medicine
- General medical practices
- Emergency departments.
Aim of Activity
The aim of this Video Learning Activity is to provide an update or introduction to the correct interpretation of vital signs, with a particular emphasis on the concept of normal ranges and the context of interpretation.
Need for Activity
The assessment of vital signs is an integral component of nursing practice and requires a high degree of knowledge and skill to perform properly. Additionally, the interpretation of the results of the assessment will be directly influenced by individual interpretations of what ‘normal’ vital signs are and how these relate to the context of the assessment. There is a clear need to establish a consistency of understanding regarding this nursing activity and to clarify the statistical concept of normality. Given the short length of stay that clients generally undergo within the health environment today, nurses and midwives are increasingly required to make accurate and reliable vital sign assessment in order to facilitate effective decision making by the appropriate health professionals.
Nurses and midwives in Australia, are required to obtain a certain number of continuing professional development (CPD) hours each year that relates to their context of practice in order to comply with mandatory regulatory requirements. For further information, contact your relevant regulatory body.
This educational Video Learning Activity is presented in an engaging and convenient ‘school-of-one’ online delivery format.
The activity contains:
- An illustrated video lecture.
- Time for self-evaluation involving MCQs, reflection on your practice and documenting in your CPD Organiser or other CPD/CNE portfolio.
- Opportunity for review of resource material including: links to online lectures of relevance and information regarding related conferences when available.
- Evaluation survey. This evaluation has been designed to determine how your knowledge has been enhanced and strengthened by completing this VLA and to measure your satisfaction with the VLA.
- Certificate of completion.
In order to finish this CPD activity and be awarded an Activity Completion Certificate, you will need to:
- watch the video
- achieve a 100% score in the test your learning questions
- document your learning in your CPD Organiser or CPD/CNE portfolio
- complete the evaluation of the VLA.
You can review the video and attempt the test your learning questions as often as necessary to achieve a 100% score, but it is important to demonstrate a high level of learning across all aspects of this topic and to ensure that all objectives have been achieved before completion.
1.0 Ausmed CPD hour.
1.0 contact hour(s) of continuing nursing education (CNE) for RNs and APNs.
Ausmed Education Learning Centre is accredited as a provider of continuing nursing education by the American Nurses Credentialing Center's Commission on Accreditation.
1.0 CPD/CNE hour(s), consisting of:
40 minute (approx) illustrated video lecture
20 minutes for self-evaluation involving MCQs, reflection on your practice and documentation of this in your CPD Organiser or other CPD/CNE portfolio and completion of the evaluation of the VLA.
Citing this Video Learning Activity
- Using Harvard referencing style:
Wake, D. & Alterman, D.M., 2012. Clinical Topics: Interpretation of Vital Signs - What is Normal? Ausmed Education. Available at: http://www.ausmed.com.au/learning-centre/interpretation-of-vital-signs-what-is-normal-description#content [Accessed March 21, 2013].
- Using American Psychological Association (APA) 6th Edition referencing style:
Wake, D., & Alterman, D. M. (2012). Clinical Topics: Interpretation of Vital Signs - What is Normal? Ausmed Education. Retrieved from http://www.ausmed.com.au/learning-centre/interpretation-of-vital-signs-what-is-normal-description#content
Review of this Activity
The presenter and all members of the planning team have disclosed that they have no relevant financial commercial relationships to products or devices related to the content of this educational activity.
Wherever possible, generic or non-proprietary names of medications have been used.
Ausmed Education Learning Centre includes peer review in the development of its video learning activities.
Video recording completed: April 2012
Video learning activity uploaded: May 2012
Video learning activity expiry date: 31 April 2014
This audio-visual publication contains a variety of content on health for general educational and informative purposes only. The content of this material is not diagnostic or prescriptive and does not replace the service or advice of a qualified healthcare professional. The Publisher does not purport to give any medical advice and is not qualified to do so. While the Publisher has taken every care to ensure the accuracy of the professional, clinical, and technical components of this audio-visual publication, it accepts no responsibility for any loss or damage suffered by any person as a result of following the procedures described or acting on information set out in this audio-visual publication. To the extent permitted by law, the Publisher and the performers expressly disclaims responsibility for and liability in respect of, the accuracy of the content in this audio-visual publication. If you believe that any information is incorrect or misleading please contact Ausmed Education using the email address: email@example.com.
In addition to the right to view the video, you have the right to make the video available for viewing by a group or groups whom you are teaching or educating. However, you are not at liberty to reproduce the self-evaluation tools (including test yourself questions), or distribute or make available to non-members of the site any support materials whatsoever. Specifically, you are not allowed to photocopy support material and/or electronically distribute it to third parties. Whilst the number of people within the viewing group is not limited, the ability to reuse content contained in the video is limited. You must ensure that the viewing group is made aware of the terms and conditions which govern your use of the content. Please refer your viewing group to the Ausmed website and its Terms and Conditions. Ausmed confirms that their viewing will be bound by the Terms and Conditions of the Ausmed website's. You are not permitted to make any alterations to the video whatsoever. Nor are you permitted to pass the video off as your own intellectual property. That is to say, you must leave all Ausmed Education recognition on the video and must maintain the authorship attribution as it currently stands.
Viewing of the video outside of the Ausmed’s complete learning activity framework does not entitle the viewer to the approved CPD/CNE hours allocated by Ausmed.
All additional terms and conditions relevant to the use of this video education document can be found at the bottom of this page, or by clicking here.
On completion of this Video Learning Activity you will be able to:
- Explain what is meant by a normal vital sign and how this can relate to a range of values depending on circumstances
- Describe the different ways in which heart rate, blood pressure, temperature and respiratory rate can be measured and explain the advantages and disadvantages of different techniques
- Identify key nursing interventions for certain abnormalities in vital signs
Author and presenter: Darren Wake RN, BA (Hons), Dip Clin Practice, ENB ICU, ENB Clinical Teaching
Darren has extensive experience as a clinical teacher working in tertiary hospitals as well as rural and remote areas. He also works as a clinical tutor and occasional course designer for law and ethics at the University of Tasmania. Darren has a special interest in law, ethics and philosophy as it relates to clinical practice.
Researcher: Dr. Daniel M Alterman MD RNDr Alterman completed undergraduate studies at Felician Nursing College, a Biology degree with Honors at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, USA, and a Medical Degree at East Carolina University School of Medicine, USA. He has also completed specialised training in general and vascular surgery at the University of Tennessee. He has published many research studies, review articles, chapters and educational content for both Nursing and Physician continuing education. Dr. Alterman has an interest in international medical care and has spent volunteer and research time in rural Kenya.