Infrared Thermometers – Accurate?

Angie SzumlinskiCase Study, Studies

Body temperature is a vital sign that is regularly measured to assess the status of a patients’ health, facilitate diagnosis, and screen for the COVID-19 virus. Healthcare professionals must use the most accurate and precise measurement devices available to reproduce stable results reflecting core body temperature.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that public health measures include body temperature screening for rapid identification of potential Coronavirus cases and infection prevention. Not surprisingly, a quick, non-contact, reliable, cost-efficient, and easy to use approach for temperature assessment is a pressing need for screening individuals in the current pandemic era. One of the most popular methods is an indirect estimate of core temperature measurement using Non-Contact Infrared Thermometers (NCITs).

Similar to many other thermometers, these devices are highly reliant on correct operator use in order to obtain accurate results. A key consideration is the distance-to-spot ratio as the size of the area measured is directly related to the distance to the operator.

Although mass fever screening is currently underway using NCIT, the results of a recent study indicate that the NCIT may not be the safest device for mass fever screening in adults if used in isolation during a pandemic. Additional research is required to compare its accuracy and precision to other invasive and non-invasive core body temperature testing methods. Remember, we do what we can with what we have, we develop our practices based on expert guidance and use what equipment is available to us at the time. Stay the course, don’t stop screening residents, staff, and essential caregivers, and as always, stay well, stay safe, and stay tuned!