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Non-Contact Thermometers for Detecting Fever: A Review of Clinical Effectiveness

Last updated: November 20, 2014
Project Number: RC0610-000
Product Line: Rapid Response
Research Type: Devices and Systems
Report Type: Summary with Critical Appraisal
Result type: Report

Question

  1. What is the accuracy of tympanic infrared thermometers for detecting febrile individuals?
  2. What is the accuracy of handheld infrared non-contact thermometers for detecting febrile individuals?
  3. What is the accuracy of thermal scanners for detecting febrile individuals?
  4. What is the comparative effectiveness of tympanic thermometers, handheld infrared thermometers, and thermal scanners for detecting febrile individuals?

Key Message

Evidence retrieved from sixteen non-randomized studies and four systematic reviews (SRs) supports the accuracy of tympanic thermometers and, more cautiously, of thermal scanners. Evidence for the accuracy of infrared skin thermometers is equivocal and requires more research. However, the generalizability of the evidence found is questionable.