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How do you safely measure a patient's temperature?

Posted by:

5 November, 2012
  • Article: McCallum L, Higgins D (2012) Measuring body temperature. Nursing Times; 108: 45, 20-22.
  • Authors: Louise McCallum is lecturer, the University of the West of Scotland, Ayr; Dan Higgins is a freelance educator, resuscitation and critical care, and senior charge nurse, critical care, at University Hospitals Birmingham Foundation Trust.

THIS ARTICLE WILL TELL YOU ABOUT

  • How body temperature is regulated
  • When, clinically, you need to measure the temperature
  • The different sites for measuring the temperature
  • Reliability of the measurements from the different sites

YOU WOULD BE LIKELY TO REFERENCE THIS ARTICLE IF YOU WERE RESEARCHING:

  • Patient observations
  • Vital signs
  • Deteriorating patient

IN WHAT SITUATIONS WILL THIS ARTICLE BE USEFUL FOR ME?

This article will be useful to all nurses working with patients whose vital signs need monitoring and that is the majority of hospital patients. Some patients will need frequent measurement while for others once a day will be sufficient. Although this is a basic skill it is fundamental to monitoring the health of the patient and detecting any change or deterioration in their condition.

QUESTIONS FOR YOUR MENTOR/TUTOR

  • How do you decide how often to measure the temperature?
  • What should I do if I notice a change in the temperature measurement?

 STUDENT NT DECODER

  • Homeostasis: is the maintenance of the same state within the body, temperature is one of the most important elements of homeostasis.
  • Body temperature: the body maintains and regulates itself within a narrow range. The normal range for core body temperature is generally given as between 36 to 37.5 degrees Celsius (oC).
  • Tympanic membrane: this separates the external ear from the middle ear. It is the temperature of this membrane that is measured when the temperature is measured via the ear canal.

 

 

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