June 4, 2020

Are Infrared Thermometers Accurate?

The short answer from a family medicine specialist

Woman having her temperature taken with infrared thermometer

Q: I’ve had my temperature checked with a hand-held thermometer for work or when entering a building during coronavirus, but is it actually accurate in detecting a fever?

A: With the surge of COVID-19, many hospitals and businesses have implemented temperature screenings for employees, patients and customers using infrared thermometers. These devices offer efficiency, safety and accuracy in detecting fevers in large groups of people. They don’t, however, detect COVID-19 in these individuals.

Advertisement

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

Research has shown that, when used correctly, infrared or no-contact thermometers are just as accurate as oral or rectal thermometers. No-contact thermometers are popular among pediatricians, as kids often squirm around when trying to get a temperature read, but it also holds true in mass temperature screenings. The device offers safety to both parties while providing a quick and accurate read.

Of course, when available, an internal thermometer is the gold standard in healthcare, but due to COVID-19 and the need to quickly mass test, a no-contact thermometer has become the standard. The operator needs to follow the device’s protocol and it won’t pick up a fever on someone who has taken fever-reducing medication. But with many establishments now requiring temperature checks, these hand-held thermometers are proving to be safe, quick and accurate while helping to reduce the spread of coronavirus.

Family medicine specialist Neha Vyas, MD.

Advertisement

Related Articles

Applying aloe vera to irritated skin
February 27, 2024
Do Home Remedies for Ringworm Actually Work?

Some natural home remedies may offer relief, but they lack scientific evidence and won’t typically cure the condition

Variety of medication pills and tablets and liquids
February 22, 2024
Is It OK To Take Expired Medicine?

Some types of expired meds may not be harmful, but they probably aren’t worth the risk

Shoe storage shelf home, including purses and bike helmets
February 14, 2024
Wearing Shoes in the House: ‘OK’ or ‘No Way’?

Leaving footwear on invites germs, bacteria, toxins and other unwanted guests into your home

Male consults with pharmacist about herbal supplement
February 13, 2024
Herbal Supplements: Why To Check With a Healthcare Provider First

Besides questionable effectiveness, herbal supplements aren’t safe for everyone

Teacup of tea and plate of toast
February 2, 2024
What To Eat, Drink and Avoid When You Have the Stomach Flu

Start slowly with clear fluids, and then move to bland, easy-to-digest foods

Male with eyes closed sitting hunched over, pinching area between their eyes
January 29, 2024
Headache and Fatigue: 11 Possible Causes That Can Trigger Both

Many factors, like dehydration, a cold or even your medication, can result in these common symptoms

various New Year's resolutions written in date planner, with weights and chocolate in foreground
December 28, 2023
8 Common New Year’s Resolutions and How To Keep Them

Whether you’re trying to work out more, drink less or manage stress, we can help set you up for success

patient lying on imaging table about to enter machine
December 14, 2023
CT Scan vs. MRI: How They Work and What They Show

CTs and MRIs use different technologies to show different things — neither is necessarily ’better’ than the other

Trending Topics

White bowls full of pumpkin seeds, dark chocolate and various kinds of nuts
25 Magnesium-Rich Foods You Should Be Eating

A healthy diet can easily meet your body’s important demands for magnesium

Woman feeling for heart rate in neck on run outside, smartwatch and earbuds
Heart Rate Zones Explained

A super high heart rate means you’re burning more than fat

Spoonful of farro salad with tomato
What To Eat If You’ve Been Diagnosed With Prediabetes

Type 2 diabetes isn’t inevitable with these dietary changes

Ad