4-11. METHODS OF OBTAINING A TEMPERATURE
a. To obtain an oral temperature, place the thermometer in the sublingual pocket
and have the patient close his mouth around it. Instruct him not to bite down. Leave the
thermometer in place 3 to 4 minutes. If the patient has been eating, drinking, smoking,
brushing his teeth, or chewing gum within the past 15 minutes, wait at least 15 minutes to
take the temperature.
b. To obtain a rectal temperature, lubricate the bulb and the area up to 1 inch
above it. Use a lubricated probe cover with an electronic thermometer. Turn the patient
on his side, fold back the bedding and separate the buttocks so that you can easily see the
anal opening. Insert the thermometer approximately 1.5 inches into the anus. Hold the
thermometer in place for 3 to 4 minutes.
c. To obtain an axillary temperature, place the thermometer in a dry axilla. Keep
the arm close to the body to ensure contact with the bulb or probe for 8 to 10 minutes.
Axillary is the method of choice for an infant.
(1) Oral temperatures are contraindicated for an unconscious patient, for an
infant, or when the patient must breathe through the mouth.
(2) The rectal method of obtaining the temperature is contraindicated if the
patient has diarrhea, rectal disease, or has recently had rectal surgery.
The pulse is the vibration of each wave of blood going through the arteries as the
heart beats. The pulse rate is usually equal to heart rate, but may be lower if there is an
obstruction of the artery or if the heart rhythm is weak or irregular. You can feel it by
placing your fingers over one of the large arteries that lie close to the skin, especially if the
artery runs across a bone and has very little soft tissue around it.
a. There are eight common arterial pulse sites. (See figure 4-2).
Apical (listening to the heart directly).