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GCU Physical Assessment on Pediatric and Adult Patients Discussion

GCU Physical Assessment on Pediatric and Adult Patients Discussion


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The physical assessment of an adult vs. the physical assessment of a pediatric patient can be both very similar and very different at the same time. For the most part, the assessment aspects would be similar. The same you would do with an adult, you would still check on a pediatric patient such as gait, balance, vision, hearing, vital signs, and functions. When it comes to the numbers, that’s when the assessment is tricky and different from one another. Typically pediatric patients are rapidly growing and developing, thus their vital signs would be enhanced or faster than that of an adult. “There are three distinct stages of development: toddlerhood (13 months–3 years), preschooler (3–5 years), and school-age (5–12 years). Though this entire age group is considered childhood, each stage is very different, with the needs of a toddler being vastly different from those of a school-age child. The nurse must be keenly aware of the differences between stages and the expected assessment findings within each stage to utilize this information in the assessment, planning, and education of each pediatric patient and the patient’s family” (Health Assessment, 2022). 

Based off the child’s age, may indicate what stage of development they are in indicating what assessments are appropriate for the pediatric patient. This is different for adult patients in the sense that they have already gone through developmental milestones and can have a more generalized assessment that is still thorough and accurate. Also, depending on the child’s stage of development may indicate what measures are necessary for assessment for example, if the child is in the trust vs. mistrust stage then it would be best for the nurse to ensure the parents or guardians are in the room and assisting with the assessment. This helps the child to feel more comfortable and has less chance for alteration in assessment or vital signs. Typically for pediatric patients, it is best practice to always have the parents or guardians in the room and have them help with the child as much as possible. As a nurse, it is beneficial to get down to the child’s level by sitting down, squatting down, or something similar to their level in order to make them feel a little more comfortable with the situation. We should always explain what we will be doing to the child before doing it, and instead of asking yes or no questions, give the child the ability to choose between two options. When it comes to adults, it is still important that we get down to their level to help with comfort and let them know what we are doing before we do it. Typically, we would have less resistance from an adult than from a pediatric patient. 


Grand Canyon University. (2022). Health Assessment: Foundations for Effective

Practice (2nd ed.).

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