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Not understanding how to read manual BP!


I'm a first semester student nurse and I have my first check off tomorrow morning at 0700 for vital signs.

But I have a question for the experienced nurses: how would you read the manual BP with an even number? I told my lab instructor that his BP read 120/67 he said it was incorrect because it has to be an even number though he didn't elaborate. So, does that mean I should have rounded it up to 120/68?? Does every single line on the dial indicate an even number? I'm confused, and it's too late to ask my professor.

Been there,done that, ASN, RN

Has 33 years experience.

Deep breaths. Nobody ever failed blood pressure 101.

"Does every line on the dial indicate an even number"? Exactly. If you do not know this by now, you weren't listening.

Manual cuffs have increment marks that can only measure EVEN pressures. NOBODY has good enough ears to go between 98 and 100.

The dial goes in increments of 2. Really look at your dial and you'll see this. If you start at, say, 80 and count in 2's ("80, 82, 84, etc.) you'll see you'll be right on the mark when you hit 90.

The only time you'll see odd numbers is when an automated cuff is used. You cannot have odd numbers with a manual as it is only incremented in 2's.

We knew when a lazy (and stupid) CNA was lying about vitals when they gave us odd numbered BP's with a manual


Gary Mendoza

Specializes in Emergency Department.

I'm an ER nurse of 10+ years and I'm going to tell you, one point difference isn't going to change anything. If the same thing happened in your checkoffs I doubt they would hold it against you, they might say something about it just to point it out, but it's nothing to dwell on or lose sleep over.

Just go into your checkoffs and do your thing. If you know he wants even numbers, just give him even numbers.

Good luck and happy trails.

All BP cuffs are marked in 2mmHg steps. If you are going slow enough to get a reading between the hash marks you are deflating the cuff TOO SLOW. One way you know it came from an automated BP machine is if there is an odd number in the BP.