Vital Signs setup

Estimated reading: 17 minutes

Use the Vital Sign List window to manage the vital signs utilized at your practice, including patient weight settings. A default list of vital signs is provided for you. You can also create additional vital signs if needed. The vital sign type determines available settings and user entry method when adding vitals for a patient. 

Before you start

Security

Setup

Important!

  • Once a list type vital sign has been entered for a patient, the following cannot be done:
    • Add, edit, delete, or reorder list values.
    • Remove a species associated with the list. You can add species to an existing list 
    • Delete the list/vital sign
  • If necessary to make changes to a used vital sign, you can copy the vital sign, inactivate the original version that you copied, then edit the copy and assign the species. 

Vital Sign Types

TypeDescriptionExample
AlphanumericType the value as letters and/or numbers.  Respiration
Alphanumeric ListSelect the value from a list of preconfigured answers containing letters and/or numbers.Mucous membranes
NumericWith a numeric vital sign, you have the option of setting up a numeric range per species to serve as a warning mechanism that alerts you when a value is entered outside the normal range for the species.
Example: Set up a temperature vital sign to use a range of 99 (low) to 102 (high). If a staff member accidentally types 120 instead of 102, the staff member is notified that the entry is out of range and is asked to verify whether to use this value.
This vital sign type can be graphed within the patient’s Vital Signs window.
Temperature
Numeric ListSelect the value from a preconfigured list, where the values are based on a numeric scale with a start value of 0 or 1. You can also
type the number to quickly assign the associated value in the list.
Example: For the 5–Ideal body score value, you can simply type 5.
This vital sign type can be graphed within the patient’s Vital Signs window
Body Score

Vital Signs window navigation and quick setup

The Vital Sign List window displays the name, abbreviation, data type, and active/inactive status for all vital signs that have been set up for your practice.

Navigate to Lists > Vital Signs/ Weight.

  1. Click any column header to sort the list by the selected column in descending order.
    • Clicking again will display in ascending order.
    • The arrow to right of column label indicates sort order.
  2. Click New to create a new vital sign. See Editing default vital signs or adding new vital signs.
  3. Select an existing vital sign and click Update to edit it. See any of the following:
  4. Select an existing vital sign and click Copy to use its setup as a starting point for creating a new vital sign. See Copying a vital sign.
  5. Select an existing vital sign and click Delete to remove an unused a vital sign from the Vital Sign List. See Deleting a vital sign.
  6. Click Set Order to arrange how vital signs are displayed on the Vital Signs window at the time of use.

Default vital signs and list value descriptions

Default Vital Sign List

List value descriptions

Special Considerations for Body Score:

  • Two default body score vital sign options are provided, a 1–5 scale and a 1–9 scale.
  • Only one of these options can be activated in your Vital Sign List. If you try to activate a second body score vital sign, you are prompted to verify reassigning the body score and the original active body score vital sign is automatically inactivated.
  • The Body Score (display with weight) checkbox cannot be deselected.

Quick start setup: Activating default signs and assigning species to lists

These steps cover the minimum setup required to get up and running quickly using the default vital signs with no customization. 

  1. Clear the Inactive check box to activate the vital sign. Select the check box to inactivate. 
  2. Do one of the following: 
    • If the vital sign you are activating is an alphanumeric type, no additional setup is necessary. Click Save to return to the Vital Sign List. 
    • If the vital sign you are activating is a list type, go to the next step. 
  3. Change the Start value at setting, if needed. 
  4. To associate one or more species with a list, select the list and click each applicable species. Click again to deselect as needed.
    Note: To display this list when adding vital signs for patients, you need to assign the applicable species to the list during setup. If you do not assign at least one species to the list, when you try to enter a value for this vital sign, a message reminds you that the patient’s species has not been associated with the list. 
  5. Click Save
  6. Repeat above as needed for additional vital signs. 

Editing default vital signs or adding new vital signs

Further customize default vital signs or create new vital signs by doing any of the following from the Vital Sign list: 

  1. Click New or select an existing vital sign and click Update 
    Notes:  
    • The settings available on the Vital Sign Setup window differ depending on the data type (alphanumeric, numeric, etc.) selected for the vital sign you are configuring. 
    • Think about how you want staff members to enter/select values for each vital signs. This will determine the type of vital sign to select during setup. 
  2. Name: Enter or modify a descriptive name that uniquely identifies this vital sign using a maximum of 30 characters.
    • The name displays only on setup windows.
    • It does not display on the Vital Signs entry and viewing window or on the Vital Signs tab in the Patient Clipboard window.  
  3. Clear the Inactive check box to activate the vital sign. Select the check box to inactivate. 
  4. Abbreviation: Enter or modify the shortened version of the vital sign name using a maximum 10 characters. This abbreviation displays in the the following places:
    • Vital Signs column (static left column) on the Vital Signs entry and viewing windows
    • Column headers on the Vital Signs tab in the Patient Clipboard window.  
  5. If setting up a new vital sign, select Alphanumeric, Alphanumeric List, Numeric List, or Numeric from the Type drop down. See Vital Sign Types for information.  
  6. Depending on the vital sign type selected, do one of the following: 

Set up a numeric vital sign

Setup a vital sign with normal ranges that can warn users when an out-of-range entry is made. 

  1. Configure the Name and Abbreviation in the Vital Sign Setup window, according to the steps in the previous section. Verify the numeric type is selected.  
  2. Decimal Places: Enter 0, 1, or 2 in the field. These decimal places will apply across all ranges, species, and units of measure.
  3. Range: Set range values for species seen at your practice. These settings alert staff when values entered outside the range. Do one of the following: 
    • Click Add Range. Enter a description in the Range Name field. It is recommended it identifies both the vital sign and the type/size of species to be associated with the range.
      Examples: Canine—Pulse and Feline—Pulse
    • Select an existing range. Canine and feline are provided for you. Modify the Range Name, if needed. 
  4. In the Low box, enter the low end of the normal range for this vital sign.  
  5. In the High box, enter the high end of the normal range for this vital sign.   
    • You can specify only a low value or only a high value. You are not required to specify both values. 
  6. Click each applicable species for the range. Click again to deselect as needed.
    Note: A species can be assigned to only one range per vital sign. 
  7. Select the Unit of measure that is appropriate for the range and the associated species.  
  8. Repeat steps as needed to set up each range. If a range was entered in error, select it in the range list and click Delete Range. Click Yes or No to confirm the deletion.  
  9. Click Save.  

Set up a numeric or alphanumeric list vital sign

Setup a vital sign to use a list (i.e. descriptive scale or score) from which one selection can be made when entering data for a patient. Ex: mucus membrane appearance or body condition, pain, and dental scores.

  1. Configure the Name and Abbreviation in the Vital Sign Setup window, according to the steps in the previous section. Verify the numeric type is selected.  
    • Note on the Body Score (display with weight) option: Select only if this is a body score vital sign and have it display with the weight.
      • Only one active body score is permitted.
      • A message displays to verify that the current body score vital sign will be inactivated and the active body score will be reassigned to this vital sign. 
  2. Start value at: Select 0 or 1 as the starting value for your numeric list. 
  3. List: Create a list of values that staff can select from when using this vital sign. Tip: Save time when editing a default list instead of adding a new list. To edit the default list, select it in the List area and use following steps to modify settings as necessary. Do one of the following: 
    • Click Add List. Enter a description in the List name field. It is recommended, as it identifies both the vital sign and the type/size of species to be associated with the range. Example: Canine—body score and Feline—body score. 
    • Select an existing list and modify the List name, if needed. 
  4. In the first Description row, enter a list value of a maximum of 15 characters, and then press Tab twice.
    • A number is automatically assigned to the value based on the selected start value for numeric lists.
    • Repeat this process to add all list values.
      Note: A list must have at least one value (description) associated with it. 
  5. To reorder the list, select a list value and then click the onscreen up or down arrow buttons to move the value within the list. 
  6. Optional: Enter a detailed definition of each list value in the Extended description box by selecting the list entry and entering the information using a maximum of 500 characters.
    Example: Define pain or dental scores. The extended description is accessible in the Vital Signs window when you click the ? link for that vital sign. 
  7. Optional: Select Default for one of the list values. This will preselect the value for this vital sign at the time of use. Use with caution, as defaulted data can potentially invalidate medical records from a legal standpoint. 
  8. Click each applicable species for the list. Click again to deselect as needed. Note: A species can be assigned to only one list per vital sign. 
  9. Repeat steps as needed to set up each list. If a list was entered in error, select it in the list and click Delete list. Click Yes or No to confirm the deletion.  
  10. Click Save
    Notes:
    • Once a list vital sign has been entered for a patient, only the extended description can be changed, or additional species added.
    • Changes to list values; removing species associated with the list or deleting the list is not permitted.
    • If necessary, you can copy the vital sign, inactivate the original version that you copied, and then edit the copy and assign your species

Editing the weight vital sign

Add weight ranges appropriate for the species regularly seen in your practice. You can also specify a unit of measure for each range. Example: Avian range set to grams and feline range set to pounds. 

The following are settings are predefined for the weight vital sign and cannot be changed:

  • Name
  • Inactive check box
  • Abbreviation
  • Type

Navigate to Lists > Vital Signs/ Weight > Weight > Update.

  1. Decimal Places: Modify the number of decimal places used for recording the weight.
    • The number of decimal spaces will apply across all ranges, species, and units of measure.
    • Up to 2 decimal places are allowed. Type 0, 1, or 2 in the box.
  2. Range: Set range values for species seen at your practice. These settings alert staff when values entered outside the range. Do one of the following: 
    • Click Add Range. Enter a description in the Range Name field. It is recommended it identifies both the vital sign and the type/size of species to be associated with the range.  
    • Select an existing range. canine and feline are provided for you. Modify the Range Name, if needed. 
  3. In the Low box, enter the low end of the normal range for this vital sign.  
  4. In the High box, enter the high end of the normal range for this vital sign.   
    • You can specify only a low value or only a high value. You are not required to specify both values. 
  5. Click each applicable species for the range. Click again to deselect as needed.
    Note: A species can be assigned to only one range per vital sign. 
  6. Select the Unit of measure that is appropriate for the range and the associated species.  
  7. Repeat steps as needed to set up each range. If a range was entered in error, select it in the range list and click Delete Range. Click Yes or No to confirm the deletion.  
  8. Click Save

Setting the vital signs display order

Specify the order of the vital sign rows that display when entering patient data in the Vital Signs window. Weight is locked at the first position in the list and cannot be moved. If a body score is activated, it is automatically assigned to the second position in the list.

Navigate to Lists > Vital Signs/Weight > Set Order.

  1. Select the practice from the drop-down to set up the vital signs display order for. This setting is for Multi-Location/Single Database (MLSD) configured practices only.
  2. Select a vital sign and use the onscreen up or down arrow buttons to move it to the desired position in the list.
  3. Repeat this process until the vital signs are in your preferred order.
    • If your practice is configured for Multi-location/Single Database (MLSD), repeat steps for each practice as needed.
  4. Click OK to save order selection and return to the Vital Signs List.
    Note: The order of vital signs on the Vital Sign List window does not reflect the order you specify for the Vital Signs entry and viewing window.

Copying a vital sign

You can reuse an existing vital sign when creating a new vital sign to expedite setup. Notes: you cannot change the type, but other settings can be edited as needed. The Weight vital sign cannot be copied.

Lists > Vital Signs/Weight.

  1. Select an existing vital sign and click Copy.
  2. Enter a new name and abbreviation for the vital sign and make other changes as necessary, based on the vital sign type.
  3. Click Save.

Deleting a vital sign

A vital sign that has never been used to record vital signs for a patient can be deleted. Once used, it can be inactivated. The weight and active body score vital signs cannot be deleted even if they have never been used.

Navigate to Lists > Vital Signs/Weight.

  1. Select an existing vital sign and click Delete.
  2. Click Yes or No to confirm.
    Note: If Remember my decision is selected, the confirmation message will no longer display after deleting a vital sign within vital sign setup. We recommend that you leave this option unselected.

Additional Information

General

  • Consider how you intend to review historical vital signs to best determine the type. Example: Only numerical (numeric or numeric lists) can be graphed.
  • A vital sign type cannot be changed once you start adding ranges during its setup or is saved.
  • To discard any changes made when setting up or modifying a vital sign, click Back.
    • Click No to confirm you do not want to save changes. You will be returned to the Vital Sign List.
  • A Remember my decision option displays within confirmation messages when deleting a setting or vital sign; or canceling out of windows. We recommend that you leave this option deselected, so confirmations always display.
  • In order to display a vital sign’s list when adding vital signs for patients, the applicable species must be assigned to the list during setup. If at least one species is not assigned to the list, a message displays at time of entry that the patient’s species has not been associated with the list.
  • If any active vital signs are not associated with the patient’s species, the following will occur:
    • The vital sign window will display ‘none for species’ instead of the vitals’ abbreviation.
    • Entry will not be allowed until the species is linked.

Vital signs link in documents

  • Once the vital sign list is setup for your practice’s needs, these additional settings should be reviewed:
    • Add a vital signs prompt link in the appropriate document templates (medical note or correspondence document).
    • Set document default to prompt for weight entry when starting a new medical note .

Special configuration

  • For the Mobile Computing module, mobile users can view the Vital Sign List, but cannot perform setup tasks: Add new vital sign, update, copy, delete, etc.
  • For Multi-Location/Single Database (MLSD) configurations, all practices use the same Vital Sign List. However, you can customize the order of the vital signs displayed on the Vital Signs windows for each practice.
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