Temp question

  1. 0
    This is a sort of random question, but I need an answer and haven't found one elsewhere...

    I know you subtract a degree from a rectal temp when using a traditional thermometer, but what about a rectal thermometer? Are they already adjusted for the variation?

    The manufacturer info has not been helpful info : (
    Last edit by RosaleiMae on Feb 11, '13
  2. 8 Comments so far...

  3. 2
    I never add or subtract a degree to anything, just chart which method you took the patient's temperature by.
    hiddencatRN and poppycat like this.
  4. 1
    When taking a child's temperature via rectum, using a rectal thermometer, you don't add, or subtract anything. You just record the reading on the rectal thermometer.
    poppycat likes this.
  5. 0
    In my experience there is no different "type" of thermometer. A thermometer is a thermometer is a thermometer. Now some hospitals (mine included) will designate "rectal" and "oral" thermometers but I think this is just for contamination purposes, which if you are using covers for the probe each and every time it really shouldn't matter. On kiddos that are not old enough to do an oral temp I always just go with the axillary and document it as such. Now if the kid is too cold for me to get an ax or if their ax is 38C or greater I will go for a rectal to get an accurate central temp. In my cardiac population one t-shirt too many can sometimes get those kids so sweaty and hot but in checking a rectal temp they do not actually have a fever. I have never added or subtracted a degree to any temp.
    (except for this one kiddo we had who had an imperforate anus and was too young for an oral temp, we had an order to add one degree to his axillary temps in order to try to get an accurate core temp, but as I said before that's not necessarily the accurate way to do that because kids can run cooler rectally than axillary at times)
  6. 0
    Quote from nurse4sale
    When taking a child's temperature via rectum, using a rectal thermometer, you don't add, or subtract anything. You just record the reading on the rectal thermometer.
    That's what I figured, but I noticed that peds ED is the only unit using thermometers that are manufactured as specifically rectal. The other peds units use a "regular thermometer," that is dedicated to rectal temps only and used w/ probe covers of course. I asked a few of the RNs, but no one was sure... everyone charts the temp and method, but not necessarily the type of thermometer. I was just curious : ) Most of the kiddos they see either have a fever or don't, not a lot of low grade/borderline stuff.
  7. 1
    Quote from RosaleiMae
    This is a sort of random question, but I need an answer and haven't found one elsewhere...I know you subtract a degree from a rectal temp when using a traditional thermometer, but what about a rectal thermometer? Are they already adjusted for the variation?The manufacturer info has not been helpful info : (
    Please don't ever alter your findings on any vital sign or assessment data. Chart your actual temperature, noting the method by which it was taken.
    poppycat likes this.
  8. 1
    Typically, rectal thermometers are red. Our thermometer units have interchangeable slots to switch between PO or axillary (blue) to rectal (red). The probes look the same. Even with probe covers, we never use a rectal for oral! You also record whatever result you got and the route. So if you got 99F rectally, you would chart 99F rectal.
    poppycat likes this.
  9. 1
    The designation of "rectal" vs. "oral" vs. "regular" thermometer is usually to prevent cross contamination. Some facilities will not permit a thermometer designated as "oral" to be used for an axillary temp. The red is to indicate possible contamination (even with sheaths used) as it is designated for the rectal route.

    it is not a calibration issue but a designated use issue. Document value and route/method.

    the +/- 1 or more degrees is for quick comparison as an axillary temp is generally lower than a rectal temp. A rectal temp is more indicative of the core body temp and less likely to be affected by environmental factors as an oral or axillary (i.e. cold skin affects tympanic or axillary, drinking a cold or hot beverage will affect oral temp value) etc.


    Why would you subtract a degree from a rectal temp value when using a "regular" thermometer? That doesn't make sense to me.
    hiddencatRN likes this.
  10. 0
    We don't subtract or add on to temperarures either, you just expect different ranges of normal for different methods. I'd actually never even heard of adding/ subtracting until I was reporting vital signs to a doctor once and she asked me if I'd already subtracted a degree and my response was ".....huh?"


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