The Importance of Temperature Measurement as a Diagnostic Tool

The Importance of Temperature Measurement as a Diagnostic Tool
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Body temperature has always been recorded and used as a diagnostic tool, but why is body temperature significant? What’s the difference between core body temp and surface temp? And highlighting the importance of accuracy – the effects of misdiagnosis vs missed diagnosis.

Why Is Body Temperature Significant?

Temperature measurement is significant in healthcare settings, as part of the regular routine checks of a patient’s vital signs. This makes reading core body temperature of patients critical to understanding their current health situation. Temperature measurement is carried out on every patient, every day, in every hospital globally.

Temperature becomes more important for patients who struggle to convey their physical discomfort. For example a young baby cannot articulate when they are sick, so temperature measurement becomes a key indicator.

Body temperature is an early warning sign of infection. Fever is one of the body’s first reactions to infection and is a common symptom in many illnesses. Monitoring your body temperature, can help detect disease or infection early.

Body temperature represents the balance between heat production and heat loss, and a normal body temperature is generally accepted to be in the region of 36.1 – 37.2°C (the optimum temperature needed to maintain enzyme activity required for metabolism)[1].  

Core Temperature vs Surface Temperature – What’s the Difference?

For a thermometer to be used in healthcare it must be able to provide accurate core body temperature, but what differentiates this from surface temperature?

Surface temperature is measured on the surface on the skin and is affected by external and internal factors such as ambient temperature. On the other hand, core body temperature refers to the temperature of the body’s internal organs, such as the heart, liver, brain and blood.

Core body temperature is seen as a more reliable indicator for healthcare.

The Importance of Accurate Temperature Readings

Misdiagnosis vs Missed Diagnosis

Misdiagnosis and missed diagnosis are two important terms in medicine. Both are possible outcomes of inaccurate temperature reading.

Misdiagnosis occurs when a patient is diagnosed incorrectly with a condition that they do not have [2]. This can lead to minor discomfort or a waste of time and money in the best case-scenario or even death in the worst-case scenario.

Missed diagnosis is where a healthcare professional fails to recognise the signs and symptoms of a condition that a patient is suffering from[2]. Missed diagnosis can have significant repercussions, leaving the patient with a condition that is untreated. For example, Sepsis, also known as septicaemia, is a potentially life-threatening response to an infection that can lead to tissue damage and organ failure[3].

For reasons that are not widely understood, sometimes the immune system stops fighting the infection, and begins to turn on itself. This is the start of sepsis.

Symptoms can include fever and chills, or a very low body temperature.

TRITEMP™ – a better standard of care

TRITEMP™ is a clinically graded, robust non-contact thermometer designed for use in a busy hospital ward, providing 40,000 accurate core body temperature readings. The device converts forehead temperature into accurate core body temperature (taking into account ambient temperatures). It is used in thousands of hospitals in over 20 countries, including 200 acute locations in Ireland.

Approved for NHS supply chain and the Health Service Executive Ireland, TRITEMP™ is tried and trusted by healthcare professionals. Developed with the feedback of nurses in mind, with the central focus being patient care; this innovative device improves infection control, reduces single-use plastics, saves time and money for healthcare professionals, as well as providing the highest standard of accuracy.

Discover more about TriMedika:

TriMedika is an innovative medical technology company that provides the most accurate clinical devices for hospitals worldwide. We look healthcare challenges in the eye and make a promise to protect people and the planet through meaningful technology. We are inspired by our own first-hand experience of the challenges of healthcare. By asking the right questions, and applying fresh thinking in science and technology. We solve simple but critical, everyday problems.


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