Monitoring expectorant

Monitoring expectorations facilitates thorough assessment and evaluation

of the client’s condition and response to treatment.

Expectorant refers to any secretions coughed out of the lungs and should not be confused with saliva (secretions from the mouth).


The equipment required for monitoring consists of sputum pot, weighing scales (if available), appropriate chart for documenting results, and gloves.


  • Glove hands
  • Observe colour
  • Observe consistency
  • Observe amount by weighing the sputum pot with the expectorant and subtracting the weight of an empty pot. If scales not available record amount as full pot, half pot, etc. 
  • Note any odour from the expectorant without directly inhaling over the pot
  • Record findings on appropriate chart and report any deviation from the norm
  • Dispose of sputum pot as directed in next section below
  • Provide client with a clean sputum pot indicating client’s name and ensure an adequate supply of tissues
  • Advise client on the need to maintain hydration and oral hygiene

Disposal of sputum/oral secretions

Safe disposal of sputum/oral secretions is essential to prevent spread of infection.


The equipment required consists of sputum pot, waste bag for clinical

waste, and gloves.


  • Monitor expectorant, as above, ensuring that any measurements and observations are recorded and reported prior to disposal
  • Replace lid on sputum pot and ensure tightly sealed
  • Place in clinical waste bag and seal
  • Place in clinical waste bin for incineration
  • Wash and dry hands thoroughly
  • Provide client with a clean sputum pot indicating client’s name and date

Obtaining a sputum specimen

An analysis of a sputum specimen will identify any abnormalities and provide direction for appropriate treatment.


The equipment required consists of specimen pot with lid, clearly labelled with client details; request form signed by a doctor, and labelled with client details; specimen bag; tissues; and mouthwash/oral hygiene equipment.