5 Common Errors When Taking a Blood Pressure Assessment

High blood pressure, also called hypertension, indicates an elevated risk for health problems such as heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. Therefore, patients depend on accurate blood pressure measurements to help them manage their health. Read to find out five common errors when taking a blood pressure assessment.

1. Wrong Blood Pressure Cuff Size

Using a blood pressure cuff that’s too large or small can create inaccurate readings, as cuff size makes a difference with manually inflated devices and automated blood pressure monitors. Medical care providers should use the patient’s mid-arm circumference to select the right cuff for the individual. Also, having a wide range of sizes available at your medical facility helps give your patients accurate care.

2. Faulty Cuff Placement

Another common error when taking a blood pressure assessment is placing the cuff incorrectly. Put the cuff on the patient’s bare skin—not over clothing—and ensure it fits snugly but not too tightly. Then, place the stethoscope over the brachial artery and just under the lower cuff edge.

You should measure the blood pressure on both sides of your patient’s body with cuffs on both arms. If the blood pressure difference between the arms is consistently greater than 10 mmHg, health care providers should continue measuring from the arm with the higher pressure.

3. Inadequate Patient Preparation

An accurate reading depends on proper patient preparation. Exercising and drinking alcohol or caffeine within 30 minutes of a reading can elevate the patient’s blood pressure. Ensure the patient understands they shouldn’t eat or drink anything 30 minutes before the reading. The patient should also empty their bladder before the assessment.

4. Incorrect Patient Positioning

The patient should sit in a comfortable chair with back support, resting for at least five minutes before the reading. Additionally, they should keep their legs uncrossed and both feet flat on the ground while you take their blood pressure. Finally, the arm with the cuff should rest on a table at their chest height. Also, let the patient know that talking during the test can raise their measurement, so they should stay quiet during the assessment.

5. Not Calibrating the Measurement Device

Finally, inadequately calibrated automated blood pressure devices yield inaccurate readings. Automatic equipment and aneroid sphygmomanometers both require periodic calibration. Follow your device manufacturer’s instructions for proper recalibration at the right intervals. Health care providers should also inform patients that monitors for home use require calibration.

Now that you know what to avoid to properly check blood pressure, check out blood pressure equipment for sale from All States M.E.D. Our selection helps health care providers treat many patient populations, from newborns to adults. Shop with us today for must-have blood pressure devices.