Nursing Lung Assessment

Download this Nursing Lung Assessment to understand the importance of assessing breath sounds, respiratory distress, and signs of respiratory diseases.

By Olivia Sayson on Apr 08, 2024.

Fact Checked by Nate Lacson.

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What is a Nursing Lung Assessment?

A lung assessment for nurses is critical to patient care, especially for those with respiratory concerns or underlying conditions. It involves a comprehensive and systematic evaluation of the respiratory system to determine lung function, identify abnormalities, and monitor overall respiratory health. Nurses conduct lung assessments to gather essential information that helps diagnose respiratory disorders, track treatment progress, and implement necessary interventions.

During a lung assessment, nurses examine various aspects of respiratory function, including breath sounds, chest movement, and patient-reported symptoms. The assessment helps nurses to:

  • Assess lung function: Evaluate the efficiency and effectiveness of the respiratory system in oxygenating the blood and removing carbon dioxide.
  • Detect abnormalities: Identify deviations from normal respiratory function, such as abnormal breath sounds, respiratory distress, or signs of respiratory diseases like COPD or asthma.
  • Monitor respiratory health: Monitor changes in respiratory status, track improvements or deterioration in lung function, and adjust treatment plans accordingly

Printable Nursing Lung Assessment

Download this Nursing Lung Assessment to gather essential information that helps diagnose respiratory disorders, track treatment progress, and implement necessary interventions.

Respiratory disorders

Understanding common respiratory disorders is essential for healthcare providers involved in lung assessments and respiratory care. Some prevalent respiratory disorders include:

  • COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease): A progressive lung disease characterized by airflow obstruction, chronic bronchitis, and emphysema, often resulting from long-term exposure to irritants such as cigarette smoke or environmental pollutants.
  • Asthma: A chronic inflammatory condition of the airways characterized by bronchospasm, airway inflammation, and increased mucus production, leading to recurrent episodes of wheezing, dyspnea, and coughing triggered by allergens, exercise, or environmental factors.
  • Pneumonia: An infection of the lung tissue caused by bacteria, viruses, or fungi, resulting in inflammation, consolidation, and impaired gas exchange, presenting with symptoms such as fever, cough, chest pain, and respiratory distress.
  • Bronchitis: Inflammation of the bronchial tubes, commonly caused by viral or bacterial infections, leading to cough, mucus production, and airway irritation, with acute bronchitis typically resolving within a few weeks and chronic bronchitis associated with long-term airway inflammation and mucus hypersecretion.

How to do a respiratory assessment?

Subjective assessment

Establish rapport with the patient and create a comfortable environment for open communication. Then, ask detailed questions about the patient's respiratory health history, including any past diagnoses, current symptoms, exacerbating factors, and impact on daily activities.

Inspection or observation

Observe the patient for signs of respiratory distress, including increased breathing work, nasal flaring, use of accessory muscles, and abnormal chest movements. Inspect the anterior and posterior chest walls for symmetry, shape, and visible abnormalities such as deformities or scars.


Palpate the chest wall gently to identify areas of tenderness, abnormalities, or deformities. Assess tactile fremitus by placing hands on the chest wall while the patient vocalizes sounds to detect changes in vibrations indicative of lung pathology. Additionally, evaluate if the patient's chest makes bronchial breath sounds.


Use a stethoscope to auscultate breath sounds in different lung fields, including anterior, lateral, and posterior regions. Differentiate between normal breath sounds (e.g., bronchial, vesicular) and abnormal sounds (e.g., wheezes, crackles) that may signify underlying respiratory conditions.


Perform percussion by tapping the chest wall with fingers to assess the resonance of lung tissue. Identify areas of dullness or hyper resonance, which may suggest underlying lung pathology or consolidation.

Voice sound assessment

Instruct the patient to say specific phrases while auscultating to evaluate sound transmission through lung tissue. Changes in the clarity or transmission of voice sounds can indicate lung density or consolidation alterations.

Nursing Lung Assessment example (sample)

This example serves as a reference guide for systematically evaluating the respiratory system and interpreting assessment findings.

Download this free Nursing Lung Assessment example here:

Nursing Lung Assessment

This downloadable resource includes a structured format for documenting subjective observations, objective findings, and interpretation of assessment results. It assists nurses in organizing assessment data and communicating relevant information with healthcare team members.

Normal findings

Normal findings indicate optimal respiratory function and overall lung health during a lung assessment. These include:

  • Clear and symmetrical breath sounds bilaterally: Auscultation reveals normal breath sounds, such as bronchial or vesicular, heard equally on both sides of the chest.
  • Absence of abnormal breath sounds or signs of respiratory distress: No adventitious lung sounds, such as wheezing, crackling, rhonchi, or stridor, are present. Additionally, the patient demonstrates comfortable breathing without visible signs of respiratory distress, such as increased breathing work or accessory muscle use.

Why use Carepatron as your general practice software?

At Carepatron, we offer a user-friendly, cost-effective solution for healthcare practices designed to streamline various aspects of general practice. Our system simplifies the management of electronic medical records and enhances appointment scheduling efficiency, all accessible through a comprehensive mobile app. We understand the importance of patient engagement, so our patient portal allows patients to manage their appointments and access their records independently. Our telehealth feature supports remote consultations, a vital aspect of modern healthcare delivery.

We also focus on making billing processes smooth and efficient, integrating with systems like AWS and Microsoft for greater functionality. While we recognize some challenges, such as template customization and the need for patient portal registration for telehealth, we believe our benefits make Carepatron a compelling option for healthcare providers.

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How do you document an average lung assessment?
How do you document an average lung assessment?

Commonly asked questions

How do you document an average lung assessment?

Document clear and symmetrical breath sounds bilaterally, the absence of abnormal breath and any relevant subjective findings.

How do you describe lung sounds in nursing assessment?

Lung sounds are described based on location, intensity, and quality, using terms such as bronchial, vesicular, wheezes, crackles, and rhonchi.

What are the components of a respiratory assessment?

Components include subjective assessment, inspection, palpation, auscultation, percussion, and voice sound assessment.

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