This paper will explain the purpose and functionality of a tympanic thermometer used in out-of-hospital care environments, why it is used as part of patient assessment in the primary survey, the advantages of use and disadvantages of use in emergency vehicles. This paper will draw upon relevant information supplied by Ambulance Tasmania, the New South Wales Ambulance Service and studies conducted independently. So the question why should the ambulance services be using tympanic thermometers?
Tabbner’s Nursing Care 5E (Funnell, Koutoukidis and Lawrence, 2009) and Manual of Clinical Paramedic Procedures (Gregory and Mursell, 2010) explains, Tympanic thermometry is the preferred route for gaining an accurate temperature reading in emergency situations. The tympanic membrane also known as the ear drum sits between the outer and middle ear.(Herlihy, 2011) The tympanic thermometer looks similar to an otoscope speculum which has an infrared sensor tip that radiates heat from the tympanic membrane. (Funnell et al) The thermometer probe is inserted in the ear and a button is pushed which causes the infrared scanning. This procedure takes approximately 2-3 seconds (Gregory et al).
The Ambulance Service of New South Wales assesses a patient’s temperature as the seventh step in their primary survey, along with Blood Pressure, Blood Glucose Level, Pulse oximetry and ECG monitoring. (Ambulance Service of New South Wales, 104.1) Temperature measurement of a patient is conducted during the primary survey to rule out any abnormalities (Funnell et al). When a patients temperature is 36-37.5c this is classed as normothermic (Funnell et al, Gregory et al.). A patient is seen to be hypothermic when their body temperature is below 35c (Funnell et al, Gregory et al, Tasmanian Ambulance Service). Patients with temperatures under 35c require rewarming. Removing the patient from the cold environment, removing wet clothing and drying the patient off carefully. As the...
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