Q What is the most accurate means of measuring body temperature noninvasively in an adult critical care patient, assuming the patient does not have a pulmonary artery catheter or a temperature-sensing bladder, rectal, or esophageal probe?

A Elizabeth Bridges, RN, PhD, CCNS, and Karen Thomas, RN, PhD, reply:

When evaluating the accuracy and precision of any temperature measurement method, the method should be compared against a “gold standard.” In intensive care patients, the pulmonary artery (PA) temperature, which reflects the core temperature, is considered the standard for comparison. Table 1 summarizes studies evaluating the agreement of various non-invasive temperature measurement methods (oral, ear-based, temporal artery, and axillary) with the PA temperature. In previous research,7,9 a thermometer was considered accurate if the mean difference from the PA temperature was ±0.3°C and precise with a standard deviation ranging from 0.3°C to 0.5°C. As demonstrated in Table 1, the...

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