How Accurate are Non-Contact Thermometers?

30th September 2021

It is of paramount importance in the healthcare setting to ensure that devices are medically graded and provide accurate temperature readings.

Why is the quality of a thermometer important?

The thermometer is part of the very foundation of healthcare, in every hospital in the world. Thermometers are used in every ward, every day, on every single patient.
Inaccurate temperature readings may lead to misdiagnosis and could affect patient safety. Accurate core body temperature readings are therefore of paramount importance for optimal patient diagnosis and care.

As the world focuses on the advantages of non-contact temperature measurement, particularly in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a spotlight on the accuracy of these devices.
There are a number of low cost, low quality products available, which have no checking procedure for accuracy and no validation for use, rendering them potentially dangerous says the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency.

Why Is The Accuracy Of Non-Contact Thermometers Important?

It is of paramount importance in the healthcare setting, to ensure devices are medically graded and provide accurate temperature readings.
Core body temperature is recognised as the gold standard on which clinical decisions are made. Misdiagnosis or missed diagnosis may create patient risk, and waste valuable time and money.
Therefore a precision engineered thermometer such as TRITEMP™ is necessary to minimise cases of misdiagnosis and missed diagnosis.

How Often Should The Calibration Of Non-Contact Thermometers Be Checked?

There are varied recommended time periods depending on the product, and the instructions for use for each device should be consulted. For non-contact thermometers, many manufacturers suggest checking annually, or as required. Some tympanic thermometers, according to government guidelines for some devices the calibration check has been revised to ‘25 weeks instead of annually to ensure these thermometers are within range and reduce the risk of misdiagnosis or delay in treatment.’

Devices such as the TRITEMP™ are factory calibrated at the time of manufacture and if used according to the instructions of use should not require periodic adjustment. An annual calibration check is required by most hospitals for all devices.

Hospitals purchasing low-quality non-contact thermometers should give consideration to breakage rates. Some hospitals have quoted up to 70% breakage rates in their devices, whereas it is minimal for TRITEMP™ (0.5%). Breakage rates of up to 70% can significantly impact on costs in terms of replacement and disposal – as well as inconvenience for nurses, healthcare professionals and the engineers that maintain the equipment.

How To Check The Accuracy Of Non-Contact Thermometers

TriMedika offer a calibration checker device tested to relevant traceable thermometer standards to check the accuracy of their TRITEMP™ thermometer which removes the need for sending the device back to the manufacturer for checking.

FAQs

Can non-contact thermometers be inaccurate?

Yes, non-contact thermometer accuracy is important, but may not always be of the highest standard. Many non-contact infrared thermometers have no way of checking accuracy and therefore calibration is not checked in accordance with traceable standards. TriMedika provides a calibration check device to ensure accuracy of the device remains throughout its lifetime.

Can you calibrate a non-contact thermometer?

An accurate non-contact thermometer should not need calibrated as such, but should be able to be checked that the calibration from the factory is still accurate. Device manufacturers who offer a calibration checker allow end users to maintain a high level of accurate core body temperature readings, as is the case with TRITEMP™. Without this ability, there is no way of checking if the readings the thermometer gives are accurate.

How accurate are non-contact thermometers?

Medical grade non-contact thermometers such as TRITEMP™ can be more accurate than traditional tympanic or axillary thermometers. Accurate to within +/-0.2°C, accurate core body temperature measurements can be provided in seconds, given the medical device is of high quality.

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