CLINICAL DO'S AND DON'TS: Using an ear thermometer

May 2003 
Volume 33  Number 5
Pages 24 - 24
  PDF Version Available!



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  • HIGHLY VASCULAR, the ear is well suited for indirect measurement of core body temperature. The tympanic membrane (eardrum) lies close to the external carotid artery, so infrared temperature readings taken there reliably indicate core body temperature.


    * Explain the procedure and ask your patient to keep his head still. If the patient is a young child, have someone else hold his head still.

    * If your patient wears a hearing aid, take his temperature in the other ear or remove the hearing aid and wait 20 minutes to use that ear.

    * Place a new, clean lens filter on the thermometer probe and turn on the power.

    * If you're right-handed, measure temperature in the patient's right ear; if you're left-handed, use the left.

    Figure. Perform an ear tug to straighten the ear ...

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