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American Journal of the Medical Sciences:
Original Articles

Comparison of Oral and Tympanic Temperatures in a Veterans Administration Outpatient Clinic

Abolnik, Igor Z. MD; Kithas, Philip A. MD, PhD; McDonnald, Jeff J. MD; Soller, Jerome B. PhD; Izrailevsky, Yurii A. BSc; Granger, Donald L. MD

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Abstract

Background: To examine the accuracy of noncontact tympanic (NCT) temperatures in outpatients, we conducted a prospective study comparing NCT temperature with temperatures obtained by oral mercury thermometers.

Methods:\MThe study included 410 patients in whom oral and NCT temperatures were obtained. Results:—Mean oral temperature was 36.47 ± 0.44°C and mean NCT temperature was 36.36 ± 0.49°C. On paired-sample, two-sided t-testing, oral temperature differed significantly from NCT temperature, with a P-value < 0.0001. The difference between simultaneous oral and NCT temperatures was ≥ 1°F; in 63 cases, oral temperature was higher than NCT temperature.

Conclusion: We conclude that NCT temperature measurement is not reliable in an internal medicine outpatient clinic setting.

© Copyright 1999 Southern Society for Clinical Investigation

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