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Temperature Measurement

Clinical Indications:

    Monitoring body temperature in a patient with suspected infection, hypothermia,
    hyperthermia, or to assist in evaluating resuscitation efforts.


    1. If clinically appropriate, allow the patient to reach equilibrium with the surrounding

    2. For adult patients that are conscious, cooperative, and in no respiratory distress, an oral temperature is preferred (steps 3 to 5 below). For infants or adults that do not meet the criteria above, a rectal temperature is preferred (steps 6 to 8 below).

    3. To obtain an oral temperature, ensure the patient has no significant oral trauma and place the thermometer under the patient's tongue with appropriate sterile covering.

    4. Have the patient seal their mouth closed around thermometer.

    5. If using an electric thermometer, leave the device in place until there is indication an accurate temperature has been recorded (per the beep or other indicator specific to the device). If using a traditional thermometer, leave it in place until there is no change in the reading for at
    least 30 seconds (usually 2 to 3 minutes). Proceed to step 9.

    6. Prior to obtaining a rectal temperature, assess whether the patient has suffered any rectal trauma by history and/or brief examination as appropriate for patient's complaint.

    7. To obtain a rectal temperature, cover the thermometer with an appropriate sterile cover, apply lubricant, and insert into rectum no more than 1 to 2 cm beyond the external anal sphincter.

    8. Follow guidelines in step 5 above to obtain temperature.

    9. Record time, temperature, method (oral, rectal), and scale (C° or F°) in Patient Care Report (PCR).

Competency Based Skill Requirements:

    Maintain knowledge of the indications, contraindications, technique, and possible complications of the procedure. Assessment of this knowledge may be accomplished via quality assurance mechanisms, classroom demonstrations, skills stations, or other mechanisms as deemed appropriate by the local EMS System.

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