f. Position Patient. Have the patient to lie on his side with his top knee flexed
(bent). (This is called the "Sims's" position.") Arrange the patient's clothing (gown,
pajamas, etc.) and bed sheet so that the rectal area is clearly exposed, but so that the
patient is not exposed unnecessarily.
g. Prepare Lubricant. Before the rectal thermometer is inserted, the bulb of the
thermometer must first be lubricated. Your SOP will indicate what type of lubricant is to
be used (usually a type of jelly or mineral oil). Prepare the lubricant by placing some of
the lubricant on a gauze pad. If the lubricant is in a jar, a tongue depressor can be used
to transfer some of the lubricant from the jar to the pad. A thermometer should not be
dipped into a jar of lubricant since this action could contaminate the lubricant remaining
in the jar.
h. Examine Thermometer. Pick up a thermometer from the "clean" container.
Be sure to avoid touching the part of the thermometer that will be inserted into the
patient's rectum. Make sure that the thermometer is a rectal thermometer (red color-
coded and not long-tipped) and that its temperature reading is below 94 F.
(1) If the thermometer is not a rectal thermometer, obtain a rectal
(2) If the thermometer reads 94 F or higher, shake the thermometer down
until the reading is below the 94 F mark.
i. Lubricate Thermometer. The bulb of the thermometer is lubricated in order
to make it easier to insert the thermometer into the rectum and to keep the muscles
inside the rectum from being irritated by a dry rectal thermometer. (If the muscles are
irritated, they may contract and try to push the thermometer out of the rectum.)
Lubricate the thermometer by putting the tip of the thermometer bulb into the lubricant
on the gauze (figure 2-11). Then use the gauze pad to spread the lubricant over the
entire bulb of the thermometer and over two inches of the stem. After you have
lubricated the thermometer, discard the gauze pad into an appropriate waste container.
Figure 2-11. Lubricating a rectal thermometer.