CNA Training Skills: Taking a Blood Pressure

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During CNA training, one of the first skills you will learn is how to take a blood pressure, and for good reason. The care that is provided within any medical facility depends heavily on a patient’s vital signs like blood pressure readings because this type of objective measurement reveals a lot of information about the state of a patient’s health. It can not only show you how their health is doing right now, but can give you clues as to where their health might be in the future.

During CNA training, you will be taught this important skill, quizzed on it, and monitored closely to ensure you perform it accurately. However, if with all of this practice, many individuals who take CNA training may still make a few common mistakes.

Blood Pressure Mistakes to Avoid After CNA Training

  • Position of the Patient- The best position for a patient to be in when you are taking their blood pressure after CNA training is the upright position. Their feet should be supported and they should be positioned this way for at least 15 minutes before you begin taking their blood pressure. Changes in this position can affect blood flow greatly.
  • Arm Position- If you are taking an upper arm blood pressure or radial blood pressure after CNA training, the patient’s arm should be relaxed at their side. If it is clenched, tense, or extended, the reading may not be accurate.
  • Time of Day- It is normal for blood pressures to vary throughout the day. A blood pressure taken in the morning may be 10 to 20 percent lower than one taken in the middle of the afternoon.
  • Cuff Size- Make sure your patients are always wearing the appropriate sized cuff after CNA training. If the cuff is too big or too small, it will provide a false measurement. The cuff should fit securely around their arm, only allowing for one or two fingers underneath it.
  • Cuff Location- When you are placing the cuff on a patient’s arm, make sure it sits above the biceps tendon insertion. If the cuff is around the elbow, the reading will be inaccurate.
  • Repeated Measurements- If you frequently check a patient’s vital signs, you could find that the measurements are higher than normal. This is because of vascular and muscular spasming. If you are unsure about a blood pressure reading on one arm, take it on a different arm. If both readings concern you, wait for a little while before you take the blood pressure again.
  • Stethoscope bell location- The stethoscope bell is also just as important when you are taking a blood pressure after CNA training. False reading can occur if you don’t place constant pressure on the back of the bell or if the bell is placed under the cuff. Avoid these issues to gain a correct reading.

Measuring Blood Pressures After CNA Training

One abnormal blood pressure doesn’t necessarily mean your patient is unhealthy. Your supervisor or charge nurse will be able to determine if a pattern of low or high blood pressures has occurred so any issues can be treated. Just make sure you avoid these common mistakes so you can take a correct blood pressure reading after CNA training.

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