Measuring the body temperature: How accurate is the Tempa Dot®?
Introduction: We evaluated the accuracy of a disposable, sterile thermometer that is practical in use and holds no risk of cross-infections. Methods: a cross-sectional study was set up in which we compared the Tempa Dot® with the mercury thermometer in adults and children. Subjects were recruited from general practice and a paediatric ward. The mercury thermometer was used orally in subjects over 2 years of age and rectally in children up to 2 years old. The Tempa Dot® was used either orally or axillary. Results: The total population consisted of 212 patients, of which 131 children were younger than 16 years old. Their mean age was 17.3 years old, ranging from 1 month to 76 years. The mean difference between the mercury thermometer and the Tempa Dot®, used orally or axillary, was 0.04°C. For children between 0 and 16 years old, the mean difference was 0.08°C. Agreement between the two methods as assessed with regression analysis and Bland and Altman plots was very good. ROC curve analysis suggests cut-off points of 37.2 and 37.6°C to detect fever for the Tempa Dot® at the oral and the axillary site respectively. Sensitivity and specificity were 100.0% and 79.0% for the total population, measuring orally and 100.0% and 95.9% axillary. In children, sensitivity and specificity were 100.0% and 83.1% orally, and 100.0% and 95.4% axillary. Using a single cut-off point for both measuring sites, namely 37.5°C, sensitivity dropped and specificity increased for the oral site. For the axillary site, sensitivity remained unchanged and specificity was somewhat less. Conclusion: the Tempa Dot® is a reliable alternative for the mercury thermometer. In clinical use, a cut-off point of 37.5°C for both the oral and axillary site is most appropriate. © 2005 - IOS Press and the authors. All rights reserved.