We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is a Clinical Thermometer?

Mary McMahon
Updated Mar 03, 2024
Our promise to you
The Health Board is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At The Health Board, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

A clinical thermometer is a tool for measuring temperature, designed for clinical use in humans or animals. There are a number of considerations integrated into the design of such thermometers, including the need to reduce the risk of cross-contamination between patients. Many drug stores carry ones that are designed for home use by people who want to be able to monitor their temperature. These products are also available from medical supply catalogs.

Historically, this type of thermometer was made with mercury, but this element is rarely seen in clinical use in modern times. The problem with a mercury thermometer is that the device can break, spilling mercury and posing a risk of human or animal health. Such thermometers can also be difficult to use, as they need to be held in place for several minutes, and they need to be swung to reset, as the thermometer is designed to hold the mercury in place once a maximum temperature has been reached so that the device can be taken out for an accurate reading.

Clinical thermometers can be inserted into the mouth, ear, anus, or armpit, depending on the design. Some are also designed to attach to the forehead. Given the fact that they are sometimes inserted into rather intimate locations, sterilization is important. Another important issue is calibration, as it is important to get an accurate reading when a few degrees can make a big difference. Thermometers must also be easy to use and read to ensure that people are likely to get accurate measurements.

Some companies get around the sterilization issue with single use designs. In this case, the thermometer is designed to be used on one patient and then discarded. Other companies design thermometers that can be thoroughly wiped down, and which are intended to be used with probe covers. Probe covers are disposable plastic covers that slip over the part of the thermometer being inserted, reducing the risk that microorganisms will be passed between patients.

A clinical thermometer is carefully calibrated at the time of manufacture. Some come with calibration guides that people can use to recalibrate them in their own practices, while in others cases, the thermometer can be sent back to the manufacturer. For cheaper thermometers, it can make more sense to confirm that the thermometer is not reading properly and simply discard it, rather than spending time recalibrating it.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a The Health Board researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

By julies — On May 05, 2011

@John 57 - Yes I remember! And then you needed to make sure you weren't too close to the counter when you reset so you wouldn't break the thermometer.

With the newer types of thermometers I really like the single use ones - especially in a doctors office or hospital. It's just nice to know that nobody else has used it before you.

By John57 — On May 04, 2011

I must say, I sure am thankful for the new digital thermometers. Does anybody else remember feeling like you were pulling your arm out of its socket just trying to get the mercury down?

Plus, it is so much easier to read the actual numbers than trying to guess exactly where the line stopped. My kids don't have any idea what those mercury thermometers were like!

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

Learn more
The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.