Patient Information

Children's Health leaflets

 Health Play Department
Bergholt Ward, Ipswich Hospital
Tel: 01473 702 186


Our quick guide to nursing observations


Nursing observations (obs) are routine checks to monitor your body while you recover during your admission.

The basic checks include:

  • body temperature
  • respiratory rate
  • heart rate
  • pain score
  • level of alertness.

Your body temperature is taken using a thermometer probe.  This probe is placed either in your armpit or under your tongue, and your body temperature is displayed on the screen. We have some thermometers that take your temperature from inside your ear.

Thermometer probe

Your heart rate (pulse) is taken with a ‘peg’ like sensor, which has a red light on the inside. This ‘peg’ will gently sit over your finger or toe and count your heartbeat. This device will also measure your blood oxygen levels.

Heart rate monitor

Your respiratory rate (how fast you are breathing) is visually counted by the nurse, with the help of a timer. They will watch your chest rise and fall with each breath, counting how many you take in a minute.

The choice of pain score tool will be assessed on your age and level of understanding.  If you are using numbers, 0 will be no pain at all, and 10 would be the worst pain ever experienced.

The nurse will also monitor your level of alertness. They will check based on how alert you are. For example, whether you are asleep, awake, drowsy or active in the playroom/school room.


Additional observations

Blood pressure – This tells us how hard your heart is pumping your blood around your body. A cuff wraps around your arm with Velcro and is gently inflated. It will squeeze your arm a little, and feel tight, but then slowly deflate.

Blood pressure cuff

Eye pupil size – sometimes the doctors like to check the size of each pupil and how it reacts to light.

Circulation – This is checked to see if you have a good blood supply to parts of your body. This is done by looking at any skin discolouration, temperature difference and ‘capillary refill’.

Blood sugar (BM) levels – this is done with a quick pin prick test, where a drop of blood is placed into a portable device and a reading of your blood sugar levels is displayed within a few seconds.

Blood sugar reader


For more information

Speak to your nurse or health play specialist.



If you would like to make a request for a leaflet to be produced in a different format please see our PALS contact page in order to contact the team and make a request. If you require a translation please see our translation information page. ESNEFT are actively attempting to achieve accessibility regulation compliance under the Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) (No.2) Accessibility Regulations 2018.

© East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust, 2021.
All rights reserved. Not to be reproduced in whole, or in part,
without the permission of the copyright owner.

Back to top