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A Comparison of Four Methods of Normal Newborn Temperature Measurement

SGANGA, ANGELA BSN, RN, CLC; WALLACE, RUTH MSN, RNC; KIEHL, ERMALYNN PhD, RN, ARNP; IRVING, TONYA BSN, RN; WITTER, LISA MN, RN, ARNP-C

MCN, The American Journal of Maternal/Child Nursing: March-April 2000 - Volume 25 - Issue 2 - p 76-79
Feature Articles: Clinical Research

Purpose: The purpose of this study was to: (a) compare newborn temperature measurements obtained by digital disposable, electronic, and tympanic thermometers with glass mercury thermometers, and (b) compare financial implications of each method.

Methods: In this correlational study, 12 perinatal and neonatal nurses obtained temperature measurements of 184 newborns between 1 and 168 hours of age. The stratified convenience sample was selected using medical records numbers. Temperature instruments included glass thermometer, tympanic thermometer, electronic thermometer, and a digital thermometer. Data were analyzed by Pearson r coefficients, mean, standard deviation, and range using an SPSS statistical package.

Results: The glass thermometer, electronic thermometer, and digital thermometer temperature assessments were highly correlated (0.748 - 1.0). The tympanic thermometer had a low correlation coefficient (0.35). Use of the glass thermometer had the highest accompanying cost. Tympanic thermometers were the most cost effective.

Clinical Implications: In healthy newborns, the use of electronic and digital thermometers can be encouraged if there is concern about using glass thermometers. These results cannot be extrapolated to sick infants. While tympanic thermometers had the lowest associated cost, their lack of correlation with the gold standard glass thermometers for accurate temperature assessment makes them a poor choice for healthy newborns.

Angela Sganga is a Perinatal Clinical Educator, Florida Hospital Orlando, Orlando, Florida.

Ruth Wallace is a Perinatal Clinical Nurse Specialist, Florida Hospital Orlando, Orlando, Florida.

Ermalynn Kiehl is a Family and Community Clinical Nurse Specialist and Assistant Professor at the University of Central Florida, School of Nursing, Orlando, Florida.

Tonya Irving works in the Maternal Infant Unit, Florida Hospital, Orlando, Orlando, Florida.

Lisa Witter is an Assistant Professor of Nursing, Florida Hospital, College of Health Science, Orlando, Florida.

Address correspondence to Angela Sganga, Perinatal Clinical Educator, Florida Hospital Orlando, 601 East Rollins Street, Orlando, Florida, 32803 or via e-mail: angela_sganga@mail.fhmis.net

© 2000 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.