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How Long Distance Medical Transport Nurses Monitor Pulmonary Function

If you or a loved one requires long distance medical transport services, your health status will be carefully monitored by the flight nurse. Your vital signs, cardiac status, and pulmonary function will be assessed frequently, so that abnormalities can be quickly recognized and addressed. Here are some ways a flight nurse monitors pulmonary function during a medical transport flight.

Stethoscope Auscultation

The flight nurse will auscultate the lung fields with a stethoscope. This means that he or she will place the bell of the stethoscope over different areas of the lungs.

The nurse will then assess the breath sounds to determine if wheezing, rales, or rhonchi are present. If the lung sounds are abnormal, the flight nurse may initiate oxygen therapy to establish an optimal pattern of breathing.


Another way the flight nurse can assess pulmonary function is to examine the patient’s body for signs of cyanosis. This refers to the blue tint that can develop around the mouth, on the lips, and on the nail beds. Cyanosis may indicate poor cardiac function and respiratory failure.

Oxygen therapy may also be initiated if cyanosis or shortness of breath are present. The flight nurse will determine if the patient should receive oxygen through a facial mask or simply through nasal prongs. Once well-oxygenated, the patient may breathe easier and cyanosis will fade.

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