The fifth vital sign is …


If you ask a nurse what the four vital signs are, you’ll get a fairly standard response:

  • Heart rate, e.g. 60 bpm
  • Blood pressure, e.g. 120/80 mmHg
  • Temperature, e.g. 36ºC
  • Respiratory rate, e.g. 12–20 per minute

But the “fifth vital sign” has been defined by different teachers that I’ve had in at least four different ways. I have had at least one nursing professor tell me explicitly that each of the following is the “fifth vital sign”:

  • Pain, e.g. 2/10 (PQRSTU)
  • O2 saturation, e.g. 97%
  • Blood glucose
  • Alertness and orientation
  • Comfort, appraised subjectively by the patient

Has anyone else been told by a nursing professor that something else is the fifth vital sign?


    title = {The fifth vital sign is …},
    journaltitle = {The Grey Literature},
    author = {Benjamin Gregory Carlisle},
    address = {Montreal, Canada},
    date = 2012-01-27,
    url = {}


Carlisle, Benjamin Gregory. "The fifth vital sign is …" Web blog post. The Grey Literature. 27 Jan 2012. Web. 20 Oct 2017. <>


Carlisle, Benjamin Gregory. (2012, Jan 27). The fifth vital sign is … [Web log post]. Retrieved from

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


A word from our sponsors

Tag bag

Recent comments

Old posts

All content © Benjamin Carlisle