Fundamentals Question #46

Question

A bedridden client with a chronic respiratory illness is experiencing shortness of breath. Which position would better facilitate breathing?

Answers

  1. Low Fowler
    • Rationale:

      This answer is not correct because the low Fowler position (barely raising the head of the bed) is not high enough to decrease the work of breathing. Chronic respiratory illness can cause shortness of breath. If a client is experiencing shortness of breath, the head of the bed should be elevated to at least semi-Fowler’s position (30 degrees to 45 degrees). This position helps the lungs expand to their maximum ability.

  2. Semi-Fowler
    • Rationale:

      This answer is correct because if a client is experiencing shortness of breath, the head of the bed should be elevated to at least semi-Fowler’s position (30 degrees to 45 degrees). This position helps the lungs expand to their maximum ability.

  3. Supine
    • Rationale:

      This answer is not correct because the supine position (completely flat) increases the difficulty of breathing. If a client is experiencing shortness of breath, the head of the bed should be elevated to at least semi-Fowler’s position (30 degrees to 45 degrees).

  4. Raise the foot of bed 30-45 degrees
    • Rationale:

      This answer is not correct because raising the foot of the bed 30 to 45 degrees will put increased pressure on the upper body, increasing the difficulty to breathe. If a client is experiencing shortness of breath, the head of the bed should be elevated to at least semi-Fowler’s position (30 degrees to 45 degrees).

Overview

If a client is experiencing shortness of breath, the head of the bed should be elevated to at least semi-Fowler’s position (30 degrees to 45 degrees).

Explanation

Learning Outcomes

Chronic respiratory illness can cause shortness of breath. If a client is experiencing shortness of breath, the head of the bed should be elevated to at least semi-Fowler’s position (30 degrees to 45 degrees). This position helps the lungs expand to their maximum ability. The semi-Fowler position facilitates the relaxing of tension of the abdominal muscles, allowing for improved breathing. The low Fowler position (barely raising the head of the bed) is not high enough to decrease the work of breathing. The supine position (completely flat) increases the difficulty of breathing. Raising the foot of the bed 30 to 45 degrees will put increased pressure on the upper body, increasing the difficulty to breathe.

Test Taking Tip

Remember that the nurse does not need an order to raise the head of the bed if a client is experiencing respiratory distress. If the client does not need to bend at the waist, then Trendelenburg position can be used to facilitate improved breathing.

Video Rationale