Non-contact infrared thermometers have become a popular choice for conducting health screenings amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Although they are considered to be less accurate than forehead, ear or digital thermometers, they pose the lowest risk of cross-contamination.
Non-contact infrared thermometers can detect the presence of a fever, one of the earliest symptoms of COVID-19, and keep individuals from infecting others.
Although non-contact thermometers have many advantages, there are also limitations and guidelines to consider.
Benefits Of Non-Contact Infrared Thermometers
According to the FDA, benefits of non-contact infrared thermometers include:
- Reduced risk of spreading disease between people
- Easy to use, clean, and disinfect
- Efficient; able to conduct multiple screenings quickly
Non-Contact Infrared Thermometer Limitations
The biggest limitation is that how and where non-contact thermometers are used can affect the measurement, according to the FDA. For instance, if they are used in an environment that is too hot or cold, the readings can be inaccurate.
The FDA recommends non-contact infrared thermometers be used when temperatures are between 60.8-104 degrees Fahrenheit and when relative humidity is below 85%.
Distance and positioning can also impact readings. The close distance needed between the person using the device and the person being evaluated can increase the potential spread of disease.
Guidelines For Using Non-Contact Infrared Thermometers
Non-contact thermometers have strict manufacturer guidelines and instructions for use that must be followed to ensure an accurate reading.
Follow these guidelines from the FDA:
- Non-contact infrared thermometers should be used in a draft-free space without direct sunlight. They should also be placed in the space prior to use for a predetermined amount of time to adjust to the environment.
- When reading a person’s temperature, a non-contact infrared thermometer must be held perpendicular to the forehead at a specific distance.
- Do not touch the sensing area of the thermometer. Keep the sensor clean and dry.
All of these conditions must be met each time to ensure an accurate reading. As the instructions for use are very specific, the accuracy of the readings may vary slightly from user to user.
Should You Use Non-Contact Infrared Thermometers For Health Screenings?
When deciding if an non-contact infrared thermometer is right for your health screenings, here are some questions to consider:
- Would it make sense to delegate a few individuals to use the thermometer to ensure more consistent readings?
- Are there any additional measures that should be included, such as wearing face masks, to minimize the risk due to the close distance?
- Does the option for non-contact outweigh the potential risk of an inaccurate reading?
- What are the temperature parameters that will be set to determine when a person should be denied entry?
Share your thoughts!
Has your institution/employer implemented the use of non-contact infrared thermometers for health screenings?
What other tools are your institutions using to help minimize the spread of COVID-19?
1 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Food and Drug Administration. (2020). Non-contact Infrared Thermometers. https://www.fda.gov/medical-devices/general-hospital-devices-and-supplies/non-contact-infrared-thermometers?utm_campaign=2020-04-23%20Non-contact%20Infrared%20Thermometers&utm_medium=email&utm_source=Eloqua
2 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020). Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) How to Protect Yourself and Others. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/prevention.html
3 World Health Organization. (2020). Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Advice for the Public. https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public