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EMS Education Tips



Everyday EMS
by Greg Friese

Infant Rectal Temperature Assessment

We know that H1N1 can be more serious in pediatric patients. The sudden onset of symptoms — fever, chills, body aches, cough, sore throat, and congestion — may trigger an ambulance call. If you are not a parent or have not worked in an urgent care setting, you may not be familiar with and comfortable taking a rectal temperature, which will give you the most accurate core body temperature assessment.

Follow these tips to assess rectal temperature in an infant.

1. Use a specific rectal probe with the thermometer.

2. Lubricate insertion tip of probe cover with a water-based or petroleum lubricant for patient comfort.

3. Position infant supine, remove diaper, and bring infant's knees to chest to clearly visualize the anus.

4. Insert the probe about half an inch into the anus with your right hand. Stop if you meet resistance.

5. Once inserted, use your left hand to stabilize the probe, if needed, and also use your left arm to keep legs positioned near the infant's chest. As needed, ask for parent or partner assistance to maintain infant positioning.

6. Maintain probe position until thermometer indicates temperature assessed.

7. Remove and clean probe and clean off infant's bottom with a wipe or tissue.

Finally, for male infants, cover the penis with a towel or diaper to prevent uniform contamination during the procedure.


About the author

Greg Friese is Editor-in-Chief of EMS1.com. He is an educator, author, paramedic, and marathon runner. Ask questions or submit tip ideas to Greg by e-mailing him at greg.friese@ems1.com.
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