Vital Signs

The category of Vital Signs contains our most frequently asked questions and are in this collection of best practices for obtaining vital signs, as identified by our member hospitals, in the medical-surgical setting. Nurses have relied on five signs in the past to assess their patients. However, hospital patients today are sicker than in the past. Using only these five vital signs may not be adequate to identify those who are getting sicker

Photo: "The Many Faces of AMSN Members," taken at a recent annual convention.

Question: What are the guidelines for “routine vital signs”? What is your reference for this practice?

Answer: The frequency for obtaining vital signs on Med-Surg units vary somewhat. Nursing reference textbooks generally do not suggest a frequency for this, but stress the need to obtain vital signs and to "follow organization policy"

What is the recommendation for post-op vital signs within the first 24 hour period?

Answer: Your question did not state specifically that you wanted information for pediatrics or adults, so our response will be generalized to any hospitalized post-operative patient...

Question: Does AMSN have standards/recommendations for frequency and times for post-op vital signs?

Answer: ...there is no established reference on this, as it is determined by physician preference, organizational policy, and patient condition. Nursing reference textbooks generally do not suggest a frequency for this, but stress...

Question: What is the typical routine for postoperative vital signs in an adult inpatient med/surg patient population?

Answer: For the general non-surgical patient, the standard is every 4 hr. x 24 hr., then at least every 6-8 hr. (based on shift length) if stable...

Question: What is the standard of care for taking vital signs?

Answer: The frequency for obtaining vital signs on med-surg units vary somewhat. Nursing reference textbooks generally do not suggest a...