Paramedics Course – Vital Signs Survey Temperature (VSS)

Vital Signs Survey Temperature (VSS)

Micro Lecture by the Australian Paramedical College:

This micro lecture is about using an external thermometer to record a patient’s temperature. Enrolled students have unlimited access to a rich library of learning materials such as this.

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Hey guys, welcome to this micro lecture. Today we’re going to talk about using an external thermometer to record somebody’s temperature as part of their vital signs survey (VSS). So we’re going to put a couple of things together. We’re not going to talk solely just about the process of sticking an external thermometer into someone’s ear and doing the temperature. But instead we’re going to put it all together.

But first let’s talk about why and when we would take somebody’s body temperature. Now let’s start by talking about the two main ways of taking body temperature. Now there’s a peripheral temperature which is your external temperature that you can feel just by touching someone’s hand, doing a handshake with them, feeling their forehead.

So by all means, you can get an external thermometer, place it on the forehead. This is a really useful way of taking a temperature in children because the less invasive, the less intrusive you are with children, the more likely you are to be able to get an accurate reading.

And of course then there’s taken what we call a core body temperature. Core body temperatures are invasive procedures whereby you’re inserting something into the ear or in the rectal cavity, if that’s what your environment is indicated to do so. Pretty, pretty hospitality. We generally use just the ear cavity only and the rectal method is usually reserved for intensive care units in hospitals.

Okay. At first you might think taken a body temperature, not really that useful. Not really that important, but just trying to think about some of the situations pre-hospital, when you were actually going to need that. Now, let’s take for example a patient who’s called in you for chest pains.

Just as one example. You need to work out as the paramedic, what is the cause of that chest pain? Is it acute coronary syndrome? In other words, is it caused by a heart problem or is it caused by a respiratory problem?

Now, one of the biggest call outs for respiratory problems, is chest infections, pneumonia, some kind of infection in the body, and the biggest way you can resolve this and work out if it’s chest infection is through the body temperature. Now the body temperature shouldn’t be maintained at 36.5 to 37.5 degrees C, anything over 37.5 is what we call a PUO, a Pyrexia of unknown origin or just a hyperthermia.

Now, of course, when it gets above 39 degrees, that’s called a hyperpyrexia, so you can see how that’s really, really important. Anything below 36 .5 is known as a hypothermia. Now other other times you might find a situation of a Hypo or hyperthermia is when your patient’s been exposed to the elements.

Maybe they’ve, they’ve been sunburned and their body temperature is too high. Maybe they’ve been caught out by the weather in another way, shape or form and it and it’s low.

And therefore, by knowing what the body temperature is, you can treat it. For example, if their body temperature is low, you can put a blanket over them or use a certain type of, of heating device, whatever your service is using.

Likewise, if they are overheating, you can take clothing off given the circumstances, making sure they’re maintaining confidentiality. Now, when would you do this? Now of course your primary survey’s always first: danger, response, airway, breathing, and circulation.

Then at some point when you get into your secondary survey, you will be asking and prioritizing body temperature with your crew mate depending on the circumstances. So for example, if somebody is saying that if they’ve got a sharp stabbing chest pain and they’ve got a cough, absolutely you might want to just quickly say to your crew, mate, can you get me a tympanic thermometer and do me a temperature please?

So that’s a whistle stop tour of a vital signs survey temperature. My name’s Sam Willis (from the Australian Paramedical College). I hope you’ve enjoyed this micro lecture and I look forward to talking to you again shortly. Take care.

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