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SKILLS - TEMPERATURE

ABOUT BODY TEMPERATURE

Abstract

 

VOL: 99, ISSUE: 34, PAGE NO: 29

 

ABOUT BODY TEMPERATURE
- The body temperature is regulated by the hypothalamus in the brain. Core temperature is the temperature below the subcutaneous tissue.

 

 

- It is recorded orally, per axilla, per rectum or via the ear canal.

 

 

- The normal range of body temperature is 36°-37.5°C, this may vary according to the site used for measurement. It can be more than 0.4°C higher than the oral temperature and 0.2°C lower than the rectal temperature (Jamieson et al, 2002).

 

 

- The patient’s condition and reason for recording the temperature will give an indication of how frequently it should be recorded.

 

 

REASONS FOR RECORDING
- To establish a baseline.

 

 

- To monitor response to infection.

 

 

- Hypothermia.

 

 

- During and after an operation.

 

 

- During blood transfusion.

 

 

MONITORING TEMPERATURE
- Equipment needed: disposable/electronic thermometer; watch with second hand; cover for electronic thermometer; gloves and tissues (if recording per rectum).

 

 

- Observe the patient’s general condition. Refer to the patient’s observation chart.

 

 

ORALLY
- Wash hands and explain procedure to patient.

 

 

- Check that the reading on the thermometer is 34°C (Mallett and Dougherty, 2000).

 

 

- Apply a plastic sheath to the probe if required.

 

 

- Ask the patient to open his or her mouth.

 

 

- Place the probe under the tongue.

 

 

- Ask the patient to close his or her mouth.

 

 

- Remove the thermometer on hearing the audible tone.

 

 

- Record the temperature on the patient’s observation chart.

 

 

- Dispose of sheath and wash hands.

 

 

PER AXILLA
- Wash hands and explain the procedure to the patient.

 

 

- Help the patient to loosen any clothing for easy access to the axilla.

 

 

- Once the thermometer is prepared ensure the axilla is dry and place the probe in the axilla.

 

 

- Ask the patient to hold his or her arm across his or her chest.

 

 

- Remove the probe as required (see manufacturer’s guidelines).

 

 

- Measure the temperature and record on patient’s observation chart.

 

 

- Clean/dispose of used thermometer according to policy.

 

 

PER RECTUM
- Refer to manufacturer’s guidelines.

 

 

- Explain procedure to patient.

 

 

- Wash hands and apply gloves.

 

 

- Ensure patient’s privacy.

 

 

- The patient should lie on his or her side with knees bent.

 

 

- Gently insert the thermometer probe 2-4cm into the patient’s anus (Jamieson et al, 2002).

 

 

- Remove the thermometer probe after the required time.

 

 

- Wipe around the patient’s anus and ensure patient’s comfort.

 

 

- Dispose of gloves and wash hands.

 

 

- Record the temperature on patient’s observation chart.

 

 

- Clean/dispose of the used thermometer according to policy.

 

 

VIA THE EAR CANAL
- The tympanic thermometer uses infrared light to read temperature.

 

 

- Wash hands and explain procedure to patient.

 

 

- Ensure that you have good access to the patient’s ear.

 

 

- Apply the disposable cover.

 

 

- Place the probe in the ear.

 

 

- Measure the temperature and record on patient’s observation chart.

 

 

- Dispose of cover and wash hands.

 

 

FURTHER READING
Fawcett, J. (2001)
The accuracy and reliability of the tympanic membrane thermometer: a literature review. Emergency Nurse; 8: 9, 13-17.

 

 

O’Toole, S. (1997)Alternatives to mercury thermometers. Professional Nurse; 12: 111, 783-786.

 

 

Tortora, G.R., Grabowski, S.R. (1993)Principles of Anatomy and Physiology. New York, NY: Harper Collins.

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