CNA Skills Set: Measuring Body Temperature

CNA Skills Set: Measuring Body Temperature

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In the next section of our CNA Skill Set Test Study Guide, we will be covering the procedures for accurately measuring a person’s body temperature. This is a common question on the CNA practical exam, so make sure you know and understand all the procedures for the different ways in which to measure a patient’s body temperature.

This article will go over all three different methods in which you can measure a person’s temperature using an electronic thermometer. The three different ways to measure body temperature are: Oral, Rectal, and Axillary.

Just like always, when you begin performing this action during you Practical Skills examination, it is important that you first wash your hands, announce yourself, address the patient by their name and inform them of what you will be doing. Skipping one of these actions will result in lost points.

IMPORTANT: For the oral step, make sure to ask the patient whether or not they just drank anything cold. If they have, you should wait 5-10 minutes before taking the measurement. This is a common missed step and will cause you to lose points.

CNA Practical Skill: Oral Temperature

  1. Set out the thermometer and ensure it is ready. This step can be different depending on the type of thermometer you have.
  2. Place a disposable plastic cover over the probe and ensure the cover stays on.
  3. Ask the patient if they have drank anything cold recently.
  4. Have the resident open their mouth and gently slide the probe to the back of the mouth but under the tongue.
  5. Once this is done, respectfully ask the patient to close their mouth and attempt to hold the probe in place.
  6. When the thermometer is finished, remove the thermometer from the patients mouth.
  7. Eject the disposable plastic cover into an appropriate waste basket.
  8. Return the thermometer back to the state in which it was. Either place it on the charger or place it in it’s appropriate containing unit.

CNA Practical Skill: Rectal Temperature

The rectal temperature is technically the most accurate of the temperatures, however, is also the most invasive. It is the more preferable measurement for young infants, or those who have a problem with their mouth that would preclude them from using one. The correct steps are as follows:

  1. First place the patient in a safe position. Do this by raising their side rail and roll the patient into a Sim’s position.
  2. Gently remove only the garments covering the butt so that you have access for the thermometer.
  3. Remove the thermometer and attach a rectal probe to it.
  4. Apply adequate amount of lube to the probe, ensuring it is covered from 1 to 2 inches.
  5. Separate the patient’s butt cheeks so as to expose the anus.
  6. Inform the patient that you are inserting the probe and ask them to breathe.
  7. Gently insert the probe into the anus 1 to 2 inches deep. If there is resistance do not force it and inform the nurse.
  8. Hold the thermometer in place while it takes its readings. Also ensure the patient is still breathing smoothly and check that they are okay.
  9. Once you have received the temperature, slowly remove the probe from the anus.
  10. Eject the disposable plastic cover into the appropriate trash.
  11. Return the thermometer back to the state in which it was. Either place it on the charger or place it in it’s appropriate containing unit.
  12. Wipe the patient’s anal area so as to remove lubricant and any other material. Replace the patients garments and assist them back to a comfortable position.

CNA Practical Skill: Axillary Temperature

The axillary temperature method is another means in which to measure the patient’s temperature in case they are not able to provide oral or anal measurements. There are multiple different reasons in which this could be the case. If you are asked to perform a Axillary Temperature reading, then you should perform the following:

    1. Set out the thermometer and ensure it is ready. This step can be different depending on the type of thermometer you have.
    2. Place a disposable plastic cover over the probe and ensure the cover stays on.
    3. Once you have the resident in a comfortable position (usually sitting up), have them raise their arm.
    4. Insert the thermometer probe into the center axilla. Once in place, move the patients arm down and across the chest.
    5. Have the patient stay this way until the measure it gained by the probe.
    6. Eject the disposable plastic cover into an appropriate waste basket.
    7. Return the thermometer back to the state in which it was. Either place it on the charger or place it in it’s appropriate containing unit.

Video Exercise to Demonstrate each of the Above Techniques

To help illustrate these techniques, we have included the following video that goes over each of the steps above so as to not only help you understand them, but also help you too see how it is actually performed:

CNA Skills Set: Measuring Body Temperature by

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