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Taking a Temperature for a Neutropenic Patient

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Taking a Temperature for a Neutropenic Patient 

Normally a person’s body temperature is about 98.60 F. A child’s temperature can change with activity, eating, amount of clothing, and time of day.

There are two ways to take a temperature on a neutropenic patient:

  1. By mouth (Oral)
  2. Under the Arm (Axillary)

NOTE: Rectal temperature should not be taken because the thermometer can tear the thin rectal skin and introduce bacteria into the blood stream leading to an infection.

Most digital thermometers come with easy to follow directions. Glass thermometers are not recommended.

The oral thermometer should be placed under the side of the tongue. Hot or cold drinks, smoking, or chewing gum can change oral temperatures. Wait fifteen minutes after eating or drinking to take an oral temperature. Axillary temperatures can be less accurate. The end of the thermometer must be in the center of your child’s underarm with his/her arm down, close to the side.

Care of the thermometer

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on proper cleaning and care of the thermometer. Store in a safe place.

When to call the physician

Call your child’s doctor with a temperature of 100.40 Fahrenheit (380 Celsius) on two occasions at least one hour apart, or one temperature of 1010 F (38.30 C) or greater in a 24 hour period. Do not give Acetaminophen (Tylenol) or any other medicine to bring the fever down until you have spoken with the doctor and have asked him/her if it is okay.


Disclaimer:This information is not intended to substitute or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your child's physician. The content provided on this page is for informational purposes only, and was not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. Please consult your child's physician with any questions or concerns you may have regarding a medical condition.

Reviewed: 05/2018

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