§ Why do we need to add temperature unit [when writing a medical report for the CELBAN?]

Kim,

Why do we need to add temperature unit must and other units not? For example:

  • Vitals: PR 88, RR 20, BP 110/70, T 36.7 C.

N

Stethascope and tongue depresserN,
Great question!
When it comes to most of the vital signs, there is only one unit of measure. So, when someone writes BP or blood pressure everyone in the medical field, no matter where they reside and work or where they were trained, use the same unit. For this reason units are not required and are optional when writing vitals.
But there are two units for temperature: F and C. In Canada, when my grandmother was a girl, the imperial units were used: cups, spoons, feet, inches, pounds, etc. Temperature was measured in F. When I was little Canada adopted the metric system: m, l, g. Temperature was measured in C. At the same time the US continued to use the imperial units. Being Canadian, instead of adopting only one measure strictly, we continue to use both systems. Some of us have created personal hybrid systems; the units I use are:
  • temperature ~ degree Celcius,
  • distance ~ meters,
  • gasoline ~ liters,
  • cooking ~ cups, spoons and for
  • weights ~ pounds.

You will find a similar approach with spelling, as we have historical influences from the UK the US and France. For example, while only one spelling is accepted in each nation we accept both:

  • spelled, spelt
  • centre, center
  • theatre, theater
  • color, clour
  • neighbor, neighbour
  • trevellor, travelor
  • councellor, councelor
  • jewllery, jewlery
  • paediatric, pediatric
  • leukaemia, leukemia
  • apologize, apologise
  • analyse, analyze
  • defense, defence
At the end of the day, when it comes to spelling, it is a matter of style. Each editor and teacher has different preferences based on upbringing, teachers and work experience.
So, when it comes to writing vital signs ensure you include the units for temperature, whether or not you include the units for blood pressure, respiratory rate and pulse.
Kim

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