d. Record Any Abnormalities. Record any abnormalities noted while
assessing the patient's breathing.
WHY SHOULD THE PATIENT BE UNAWARE THAT I AM ASSESSING HIS
BREATHING RATE AND QUALITY?
Your brain controls your breathing and will do so automatically (without
conscious order). This means you will continue to breathe even when you are not
thinking about breathing, such as when you are asleep. However, breathing can also
be under the conscious (voluntary) control of the brain. You can breathe faster, breathe
deeper, breathe shallower, or breathe slower if you want to do so. You can even stop
breathing altogether, at least for a short time. Thus, you can swim underwater and you
can hold your breath while putting on your protective mask during a chemical attack.
Unfortunately, this voluntary control of breathing can create a problem when you are
assessing the patient's breathing rate and quality. If the patient knows that you are
paying attention to his breathing, then he will probably start paying attention to his
breathing also. In doing so, his brain switches from automatic control of breathing
(which you want to observe) to voluntary control (which does not give you a true picture
of his normal breathing). In order to get a true picture of the patient's breathing rate and
quality, the patient should be at rest (lying down) and should not beware that you are
observing his breathing process.