Document Type

Thesis - University Access Only

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department / School

Graduate Nursing


Obtaining an accurate temperature reading from patients is important in the intensive care unit (ICU) to assist health professionals to implement appropriate interventions. Tympanic membrane (TM) temperatures are a non-invasive and safe alternative when pulmonary artery (PA) catheters are not used. There has been some controversy in the literature as to the accuracy of TM thermometers and the correct technique to use when obtaining the temperatures. This study investigated the accuracy of TM temperatures with and without an ear tug compared to temperatures taken via PA catheter in the ICU. The correlation between TM temperatures with and without an ear tug and PA temperatures and data on the use of vasopressors and/or vasodilators was also examined. Results from this study showed no significant differences between temperatures taken with a TM thermometer with and without an ear tug. There were no significant differences in PA and TM temperatures with and without an ear tug. All results in this study showed a strong positive correlation between TM and PA temperatures. There was no significant difference between PA and TM temperatures with and without use of a vasodilator. Findings varied with the use of a vasopressor. On the basis of the results from this study, TM temperature measurements would be an appropriate substitute for PA temperatures in the ICU.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Body temperature -- Measurement
Tympanic membrane
Intensive care nursing



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University