And the respiratory rate is …


I’m noticing how almost every time we get an ambulance report, the respiratory rate is “20”

When I go to the floors and look through patient flow sheets, the respiratory rate is almost always “20”

My question is this: how many people on a medical floor, all breathing at a rate of 20, are required to create an ebb and flow of wind that is sufficient to blow out the windows of a hospital?


  1. acute asthma episode-20, febrile infant-20,toothache-20, hangnail-20, respiratory arrest-20……ask the rate to be rechecked ?……..that’s good for about, 20 huffs also !!!!!!
    makes one appreciate the fact that the counter is not your banker….;)

  2. You’d have to get them all synchronized, so that the in/out cycles all built up pressure at the same time. What would be even better is if you could catch an administrator or JCAHO trying to enter the building at the same time, and push them back out.

  3. Do patients on the same floor all breathing the same rate eventually get on the “same cycle” just like female roomates who’s 28 day cycles syncronize? Seriously, the problem here is that people are not counting the respiratory rates and making an accross the room guess or a guess from the nurses station. Makes you wonder if the rest of the vital signs were fudged also. I’ve never seen more chart fudging than I do now. Its not just Nurses and EMT’s. Ever listen to physician dictations or look at the written chart. Its a wonder how lung and heart sounds appear on the chart when the patient was never touched. On a recent post I received numerous comments of creative charting. Anyone have any ideas why?

  4. Reminds me of the familiar abbreviations we usually see:

    Vital signs WNL = We Never Looked.

    NKDA = Not Known, Didn’t Ask.

    Funny how the same people that always get 20 respirations are able to come up with odd-numbered BP readings from a manual analog gauge…

  5. ERMurse
    Excellent article!
    My post was obviously tongue-in-cheek, but you hit the nail on the head regarding the charting issues.

    Glad to see you and Babs and your daughter are having fun together. That’s what life’s all about!


  6. That’s too true. I had this exact conversation with my nurse wife the other day. I argued there is no way the average person takes a breath every three seconds. At the VA when I was in training, every person had a RR of 20, no matter what.

    I always contend bad information is worse than no information.

  7. Pingback: Ambulance Report of the Day « WhiteCoat Rants

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