c. Select Site. Select a site for taking the patient's pulse. Normally, the radial
site is usually chosen. The brachial and the carotid sites are other commonly used
locations. These sites are normally used because of their availability and because little
or no clothing have to be removed in order to expose these sites. Other sites may be
used when you wish to check the blood circulation to a specific body part.
d. Prepare Site. Remove any clothing from over the site (open shirt for apical,
remove boot and sock for dorsalis pedis, and so forth.). Then position the body part so
that you can take the pulse easily.
When taking a reclining patient's radial pulse, place the patient's arm across
his chest as shown in figure 3-3. This will allow you to count his breaths
after taking his pulse without having to move. The patient's breathing pattern
may change if he knows you are watching his breathing.
Figure 3-3. Taking a patient's pulse. A - carotid pulse. B - radial pulse.
e. Locate Pulse. Put the tips of your index finger and middle finger together
and feel for the pulse by pressing down moderately with you fingertips on the site. If
you cannot feel a pulse, move your fingertips around the area until you locate the pulse.
Do not use your thumb to search for the patient's pulse. The thumb contains a blood
vessel that is large enough for a pulse to be felt. If you use your thumb, the pulse that
you find may be your own thumb pulse, not the patient's pulse.
Some people prefer to use three fingers to take a pulse.