Figure 2-6. Normal average rectal, oral, and axillary temperature readings
2-17. WHEN SHOULD I TAKE AN ORAL TEMPERATURE?
a. When an Oral Temperature Should Be Taken. When you are told to take a
patient's temperature (either through spoken orders or through written orders), you will
normally take the patient's oral temperature. Take the patient's temperature by the oral
route if the following are met.
(1) The physician or nurse did not order that the temperature was to be
taken by another method (that is, did not specify rectal temperature or axillary
(2) The patient is conscious and can follow directions, especially the
direction "don't bite down."
(a) If a patient "bites down" on a glass thermometer, he could break
the thermometer. A broken glass thermometer could cut the patient's mouth and lips.
In addition, he could swallow broken glass and mercury.
(b) If a patient "bites down" on an electric thermometer probe, he could
damage the probe, and he could be injured by the damaged probe.
(3) Make sure the patient can breath through his nose. (The patient must
be able to breathe through his nose, since he must keep his mouth closed while the oral
temperature is being taken.)
(4) There is no condition present to which make it undesirable to take the
patient's temperature orally (see paragraph b).