To compare the measurements of body temperature with the tympanic infrared thermometer and the digital rectal thermometer.
Beatrix Hospital, Gorinchem, the Netherlands.
A total of 2057 almost simultaneous measurements of rectal and tympanic temperature were performed in 164 patients in 9 different wards.
The mean difference between the two methods was 0.45°C with a standard deviation of 0.57°C. The tympanic temperature was lower than the rectal temperature. The differences ranged from -1.5 to 3.6°C. The correlation coefficient was 0.69. If a rectal temperature > 37.8°C was applied as the criterion of fever, the diagnosis was not made in 175/291 measuring moments (60) with the tympanic thermometer. If a tympanic temperature > 37.8°C was applied as the criterion of fever, the rectal thermometer failed to show fever in 16/132 measuring moments (12).
The low sensitivity of the tympanic measurement to establish fever renders the tympanic infrared thermometer unsuitable for use as a fever thermometer.