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Ask Our Nurse

What is a Geratherm® glass thermometer?
The Geratherm thermometer is the first glass thermometer that functions just like a standard mercury thermometer, yet without mercury or batteries.  The Geratherm contains a unique liquid alloy called “Galinstan®”.

What is Galinstan?
Galinstan is a special blend of Gallium, Indium and Tin.  This means it is non-toxic and safe for the user and the environment.  Galinstan was awarded the Gold Medal for the best new invention at the 1993 “Eureka” Inventors’ Fair in Brussels.  This substance has been reviewed and listed by the U.S. FDA and issued a 510k listing and U.S. and International patents (View Material Safety Data Sheet pdf).

Help!  I broke my Geratherm glass thermometer and now my walls, floor, and clothes are spattered with the silver substance.  How can I clean this up?

  1. Gather a roll of paper towels, some plastic bags and a household cleaner such as Fantastic, Resolve carpet cleaner, or plain dish soap and water.
  2. Moisten each paper towel and dab/wipe the area in a manner that does not spread the Galinstan around.  Discard that towel and use a fresh one each time so you don't continue to reintroduce the Galinstan over and over.  Place the soiled paper towel in the plastic bag.
  3. Check back periodically as the Galinstan has a tendency to reappear.  Continue the steps above until all of the Galinstan is removed.

How does a Geratherm glass thermometer work?

The interior capillary containing the Galinstan allows this thermometer to function like a standard mercury thermometer.  When heat is applied orally, rectally or under the arm (axillary) the Galinstan rises up the column until the maximum temperature is achieved…normally in 3 minutes.  Therefore, it is called a definitive reading unlike a battery-operated digital thermometer, which is a presumptive reading (View Instructions for Use pdf for the oral and rectal mercury-free glass thermometers).

How accurate is the Geratherm glass thermometer?
It is exceedingly accurate and has been used to calibrate other instruments.  Consumer Reports Magazine selected the Geratherm mercury-free oral thermometer to verify the accuracy of all other thermometer types; date: October/2005 (View pdf article).  The manufacturer, based in Germany, has been issued an ISO 9002 certificate for their quality control procedures and programs.  All of our thermometers have gone through IRB sanctioned University clinical trials.  Documentation is available upon request. 

Why are mercury thermometers a concern?
When a mercury thermometer breaks, the mercury begins to vaporize, even at room temperature.  Mercury is a potent toxin to the nervous system and exposure can affect the brain, spinal cord, kidneys and liver.  Mercury is classified as a toxic chemical and requires special procedures in the event of a mercury “spill.”  Thousands of calls are made annually to poison control centers and emergency rooms regarding broken mercury fever thermometers.

Is a Geratherm thermometer safe?
The Geratherm’s shell and internal capillary are made of medical grade glass and, like any glass object can be broken; however, because it is non-toxic, clean-up can be done with warm soapy water or other commercial cleaners.

Is there an oral and rectal glass thermometer available?
We now have several versions of the Geratherm mercury-free thermometer available.  The oral or Classic, which comes with a green cap; the Rectal, with a red cap and red stripe; the MagnaTherm which comes in a magnified case increasing one’s ability to read the thermometer, especially if visually impaired.  In addition, we are pleased to announce the availability of the hypothyroid, hypothermic and a basal thermometer, which are also mercury-free.

In which clinical areas are the Geratherm thermometers used?
Many hospitals use the Geratherm in all clinical applications where they are currently using a mercury or digital thermometer.  In addition, the oral, rectal and basal thermometers have been extended to include Dr.’s offices, Hospice and Home Health Care Divisions. 

How do I clean the Geratherm thermometer?
The exterior shell is made of a medical grade glass that can be cleaned with warm soapy water and/or an alcohol swab.  Probe covers are also available, designed specifically for the Geratherm thermometers.  Information is available upon your request.

How cost effective is the Geratherm thermometer?
The Geratherm is a very accurate, safe and cost effective alternative to using mercury thermometers considering the expense of a single broken mercury thermometer and the cost of a mercury spill kit plus training for employees, hazardous disposal, and finally the potential harm to the environment.  

Where can I purchase the Geratherm mercury-free thermometer?
You may purchase the Geratherm thermometers at a variety of Drug Stores, Grocery Stores and large Retail Chains (View Distributors Page).

Who can I contact if I have additional questions?
You may contact Mary LeTourneau, R.N., Clinical Customer Service toll free at 1-888-596-9498 ext. 207 or via email maryrn@rgmd.com


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