Review the medical terms and abbreviations used in the chart as well, e.g arterial blood gases, PO2.
Charts such as these are important resources for students in EMP courses who aim to be able to work as healthcare professionals. The charts often form the basis of communications with colleagues during handover or patient review so it is essential that students feel comfortable using the specific language used in the charts. Developing a template for a discussion about patient observations is often helpful so that students feel confident when the time comes to initiate the conversation in the real environment.
Starting a conversation with a colleague about changes in a patient's vital signs may use expressions such as:
' I need to report some changes in Mrs Smith's Obs.'
'Mrs Smith is ambering now' (to amber = have a reading which is in the trigger zone)
'I'm concerned about Mrs Smith's Obs'
Expressions to explain a change in Obs may include:
Her BP is dropping, falling, decreasing
Her BP is rising, increasing, going up
Her pulse is fast, slow, bounding, thready
Her resps are slowing,depressed, rapid, laboured
Her temp is rising, falling. She's febrile/pyrexical. She's hypothermic
There's also scope to practise numbers. Temperatures are described ,for example, as 37.6 (thirty-seven point six) .Blood pressures are described as 'a number' over 'a number' ,e.g 160/110 = one hundred and sixty over one hundred and ten.
Numbers are often a challenge to remember quickly so practise beforehand is a good idea. A useful hint when practising blood pressure numbers is to practise the obvious ones,e.g 90/60, 110/70, 120/80,160/100 . Remember that digital machines give a more accurate number than manual sphygmomanometers e.g 93/62
'English for Medical Purposes:Medication Calculation for Nurses' provides practice in this area. A sample page :