Comparison of Oral and Axillary Temperatures in Intubated Pediatric Patients

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Abstract

Purpose:

Accurate body temperature measurement is essential in providing timely care to critically ill patients. Current practice within the Pediatric ICU (PICU) at a Midwestern academic medical center is to obtain axillary temperatures in endotracheally intubated patients. According to research, axillary temperatures have greater variance than other forms of temperature measurement. Research in adult patients show that oral temperature measurement in endotracheally intubated patients is acceptable as the heated gases from the ventilator has no significant effect on measured temperatures. This study sought to determine if the same is true in pediatrics.

Design and Methods:

Oral and axillary temperatures of endotracheally intubated pediatric patients were obtained during unit prescribed vital assessment intervals. Patients were divided into neonate, infant, and children age groups with 25 sets of temperatures obtained for each group. Descriptive statistics and Bland-Altman plot interpretation were performed to determine confidence intervals for each age group.

Results:

Bland-Altman plot analysis of oral and axillary routes of temperature measurement showed a high positive correlation within all age groups studied. The infant age group showed lower correlation in comparison to neonates and children. The infant age group also had an outlier of data sets with lower oral temperatures as compared to the axilla.

Conclusions:

Oral temperature measurement is a viable alternative to axillary temperature measurement in endotracheally intubated pediatric patients. Correction factors for age groups were calculated for prediction of axillary temperature based on measured oral temperature.

Practical implications:

This study serves as evidence for practice change within the studied unit.

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