Knowing how to calculate respiration is one of the most basic skills for anyone who works directly with patients, from caregivers to physicians. The rate of a person's respiration is indicative of many conditions, from pneumonia to shock to thoracic injury, and the information can be used to save a person's life. Done correctly, calculating respiration can be performed quickly and easily.
Make sure your patient is in a comfortable position, either sitting or lying down. For best results, they shouldn't be talking or moving.
Note your patient's age, condition and recent activity. Generally, children will breathe faster than adults, and those who have just completed exercise will breathe faster than when they are resting. Significantly overweight people and those who have respiratory ailments may also breathe faster and shallower than normal for those their age. Drugs and emotional states also affect respiratory rates.
Mark on your watch a start time with the position of the second hand. It's easiest to mark the start of your count when the hand ticks to 12, 3, 6 or 9.
Count your patient's breaths for 15 seconds Do this by watching the patient's abdomen rise and fall. Each rise and fall counts as one breath. Monitor the position of the second hand on your watch and stop after it makes a quarter of a revolution around the dial.
Multiply the number you get by four, and that should be the approximate number of breaths per minute.