How to Take an Oral Temperature

Taking an oral temperature is one of the basic steps to obtaining vital signs for your patient. Accuracy can provide you with important information about the condition and or severity of your patient’s symptoms.

Here’s How:

1.   Determine if your patient can safely cooperate with an oral temperature. Can he or she hold the thermometer in their mouth, under his tongue, for the correct amount of time?

2.   Assemble your supplies and inform your patient of the procedure. Assist patient to a comfortable position.

3.   Wash your hands and don disposable gloves.

4.   If using a glass thermometer, read it at eye level. If the mercury is above 96 degrees F (35.5 deg. C), shake it down. Grasp it securely by the end, and standing away from any objects, quickly flick your wrist downward 2-3 times. Continue until the mercury is at or below this setting.

5.   Clean the thermometer with an alcohol swab, wiping from the colour coded end to the tip (bulb und). (NOTE: Each patient should have their own thermometer.)

6.   If using an electronic thermometer, insert probe into disposable cover.

7.   Have the patient open their mouth. Gently place the thermometer under the tongue in the sublingual pocket. Have him close their lips to hold the thermometer in place. (Don’t let the patient bite down on the thermometer.)

8.   Leave the thermometer in place for desired time. The electronic thermometer will indicate when it has reached a reading. The glass thermometer should be left in place for 3 minutes.

9.   Read the temperature and record.

10.  For the glass thermometer, shake it down again and wipe with a fresh alcohol wipe or wash in warm soapy water and rinse in cool clear water. Replace in appropriate receptacles.

11.   Wash your hands and dispose of the gloves.

12.   Notify the senior member of staff, of any abnormal readings.