NG tube and/or oxygen oral temps?

Nurses General Nursing

Updated:   Published


I'm a new CNA working at a hospital and have noticed that we take oral temps on all patients including those with NG tubes and oxygen. I was taught that in such instances we should use an alternative means of obtaining temperature. The patients I work with are very sick and I feel that ensuring the temperature is accurate and will not cause the pt distress is important, but no one else seems concerned. What should I do?

KelRN215, BSN, RN

1 Article; 7,349 Posts

Specializes in Pedi.

What would be the rationale for not taking an oral temp on a patient with an NG tube or oxygen (via nasal cannula)?


3,413 Posts

We stopped using oral and even tympanic thermometers years ago. We found them to be so inaccurate. We've been real happy with the temporal scan thermometers. They don't give "odd" readings like the oral or tympanic did such as temp 100.1 on a healthy co-worker on a cold day.....temp 96.4 on a healthy co-worker on a hot day, etc.

However I tried to do a quick Google search comparing the accuracy of any thermometers. Well.....rectal is the gold standard....The data I found (in my quick search) was not very positive for any of the other thermometers? As I said it was a real quick search.

I don't know the type, age, of your patient population. Seems like if there is a real concern about a patients temp a rectal would have to be done?

The prices on temporal thermometers have come way down. But I wish I could find the research, data, to prove that temporals are the best to use?

Specializes in Critical Care, Med-Surg, Psych, Geri, LTC, Tele,.

Whatever method the more experienced staff is using---do that. Ask a nurse or a charge nurse of you're unsure.

loriangel14, RN

6,931 Posts

Specializes in Acute Care, Rehab, Palliative.

An NG tube and oxygen would not interfere with taking a temp


143 Posts

Thanks guys! I'm gonna ask the nurses for clarification, it seems like most things say oxygen doesn't effect oral temp, but I'm getting mixed results when I'm searching...for instance, I found this in Mosby's Comprehensive Review of Practical Nursing for the NCLEX-PN® Exam from 2013


Specializes in SICU, trauma, neuro.

Part of the Nose/pharynx's function is to warm inhaled air. O2 by nasal cannula is flowing at a relatively low rate and inhaled through the nose, pharynx, and down through the trachea. If any does make it from the prongs to the mouth, it should be warmed and not make a difference in the reading.

Of course if the pt is mouth breathing, ask the RN what she/he wants you to do; that can affect the temp because it isn't sufficiently warmed up.

An NG has no effect on oral temp--it's not in the mouth. In my ICU, most intubated pts have an esophageal temp probe which provides a continuous reading. You can see a temp drop in the few seconds during a flush of room temp water down their NJ feeding tubes, but again that is measuring the esophageal temp as the H2O is flowing past. Within seconds of the water flush's completion, the temp reading returns to normal. But no, a tube in the throat won't come into contact w/ the sublingual area.

Specializes in NICU.

My only concern would be asking patient  withonly one nostril to breathe in and already on O2,[obviously needs the O2] to be expected to hold mouth closed during temp taking,and use only one nostril.I know how I feel when  I am stuffy.

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