CNA Skills – Taking an Oral Temperature

The following precautions should be observed when taking an oral temperature:

  1. Do not take temperature if patient has had a cold or hot drink or after smoking (take it after 30 minutes)
  2. Do not take temperature by mouth when the patient is:
    • Child
    • Unconscious
    • Restless
    • Delirious
    • Hysterical
  3. Do not take after oral and nasal surgery


Key Points

1. Clean the digital thermometer’s tip with cool, soapy water, or wipe it with 70 percent isopropyl alcohol. To remove germs or bacteria
2. Choose the right or proper thermometer. The American Association of Pediatrics recommends using a digital thermometer and stay away from the use of mercury thermometers, which can be toxic. Choose a digital pacifier thermometer if the patient is a child between 3 months and 4 years old and a regular digital thermometer for children over 4 years old. Mercury may be fatal if inhaled and harmful if absorbed through the skin. Around 80 percent of the inhaled mercury vapor is absorbed in the blood through the lungs. It is harmful to the nervous, digestive, respiratory and immune systems. Exposure to mercury can cause tremors, paralysis, impaired vision and hearing, insomnia, attention deficit, and developmental delays during childhood.
3. Have the patient at rest (seated or lying down) and place the thermometer under the patient’s tongue and ask the patient to keep mouth closed for three minutes or until the thermometer beeps and his temperature appears on the digital screen The average oral temperature for children ranges from 97.6 to 99.3 degrees Fahrenheit (36.4 to 37.4 degrees Celsius). While an adult’s normal temperature is 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit (37 degrees Celsius); an elderly person’s temperature could be as low as 96.8 degrees Celsius (36 degrees Celsius).
4. Record the temperature of your patient and always clean the digital thermometer’s tip with cool, soapy water, or wipe it with 70 percent isopropyl alcohol before placing it back on its holder. To minimize the spread of organism to clean areas

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