Accuracy and Precision of Temporal Artery Thermometers In Febrile Patients

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A new noninvasive temperature device, the temporal artery thermometer, would appear to be a good alternative for temperature assessment when oral temperatures are contraindicated or uncomfortable. Limited studies on device accuracy have been conducted in acutely ill adult patients, particularly in febrile patients. This study was designed to determine the accuracy and precision of the temporal artery thermometer in febrile, hospitalized patients.


A method-comparison study design was used to compare temperatures measured with the temporal artery thermometer to the reference standard for noninvasive temperature measurement (oral electronic) in a convenience sample of 30 febrile medical and oncology patients. Accuracy (bias) and precision of the temporal artery thermometer were calculated and graphed using the Bland-Altman method.


Average differences for temporal artery and oral electronic temperatures were 0.80 ± 1.2 (bias ± precision) degrees F for the temporal artery thermometer. Forty-three percent of the temporal artery temperatures were greater than ±1.0° F different from the oral electronic temperature, with 17% of temperatures greater than ±2.0° F.

Conclusions/Practice Implications

Bias and precision values for the temporal artery exceeded experts' recommended ranges for clinical acceptability and is not recommended for measurement of body temperature in febrile, hospitalized patients.

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