Using temporal thermometers is becoming more commonplace in the United States because of its accuracy and ease of use. While caregivers have several options for taking resident temperatures, temporal thermometry provides advantages over other thermometers such as oral and tympanic.

What is a temporal thermometer?

A temporal thermometer is an infrared thermometer designed for accurate, completely noninvasive temperature assessment by scanning the temporal artery (TA).

What are the main differences between temporal vs. ear thermometers?

A temporal thermometer measures the temperature of the temporal artery in the forehead whereas a tympanic thermometer measures the temperature of the eardrum.

What is the temporal temperature range?

The temporal temperature range for forehead temperature measurements is 94° to 110°F (34.5° to 43°C).

What are the advantages of temporal thermometers vs. other thermometers?

There are several advantages of a temporal thermometer. First, they are as accurate as a rectal temperature reading (the gold standard for accuracy, but not for comfort). The noninvasive nature of temporal thermometers makes them a much more preferred method to take temperatures, and caregivers can rest assured temporal thermometers take into account the ambient temperature when taking a reading. Temporal thermometers also self-calibrate after every reading.

Temporal thermometers can also be cleaned with alcohol wipes, making probe cover usage optional and providing the lowest total cost of ownership for this essential tool in senior care. When choosing temporal thermometers, also look at warranty coverage. 

As with all clinical equipment, proper maintenance and collection factors will impact reading accuracy. These can include:

  • The lens should be cleaned every two weeks
  • Readings should wait to be taken 10 minutes after a resident comes in from a cold or warm environment
  • Wearing a hat or having long hair can result in a high reading
  • Batteries need to be replaced periodically
  • Greater upfront costs 

What are the advantages and disadvantages of an oral thermometer?

Oral thermometers are almost as accurate as a rectal temperature when used properly and have a lower upfront cost than a temporal thermometer.

But unlike other thermometers, like temporal, their accuracy depends on several factors, such as correct placement in the sublingual pocket and the resident keeping his or her mouth closed during measurement.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of tympanic thermometers?

Tympanic thermometers are the fastest to get a measurement and have lower upfront costs than temporal thermometers. But they are not as accurate as temporal or oral thermometers, require the use of probe covers and generally have shorter warranties.

Read more about choosing the best thermometers for seniors based on speed, accuracy, cost, maintenance and more. 

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