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Is current body temperature measurement practice fit-for-purpose?: Watch the film!

March 10, 2021

Can fevers be detected in this way? Credible or Impossible? Watch the film and find out!

The Covid-19 pandemic has brought into the spotlight something of which clinicians have been aware for some time, namely the general unreliability of body temperature measurement in health services and, more widely, in public health situations such as fever screening.

Although the medical diagnosis of a disease is not based on a single clinical indicator such as body temperature measurement, nevertheless the unreliability of such measurement could be a contributory factor to inadequate treatment due to the mis-diagnosis of fever. This in-turn could lead to over prescribing of antibiotics contributing to the rise in antibiotic resistance “superbugs” and, also, be a contributory factor to the rise of avoidable deaths from life threatening conditions such as sepsis. Inadequate fever screening, especially by poorly designed and implemented thermal imagers or forehead thermometers could potentially have been a contributory factor, through missed fever detection, to the spread of Covid-19 in the early days of the pandemic before widespread testing.

In this talk Prof Machin explains the main measurement approaches to body temperature measurement and their pros and cons. He then outlines some of the activities current and proposed, both in the UK and internationally, that are being undertaken to address this issue, especially in regard to more robust preparedness for future pandemics.

Graham Machin is an NPL Fellow and leads the NPL Temperature and Humidity Group. He has >30 years’ thermometry research experience, published >220 papers and given numerous keynote addresses. He is Honorary Professor at the University of Birmingham, visiting Professor at Strathclyde, Surrey and South Wales Universities, Distinguished Visiting Fellow at Valladolid University in Spain. He represents the UK on the Consultative Committee of Thermometry (CCT), chairs the CCT working group for Noncontact thermometry. He was President of the UK Institute of Measurement and Control (2018-2019), chair of the Euramet Technical Committee for Thermometry (2014-2018) and served on the EPSRC Physical Sciences Strategic Advisory Team (2014-2017). Graham was awarded the InstMC Callendar medal for “outstanding contributions to temperature measurement”, and in 2019 was elected Honorary Scientist of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering. He is director of the international “Realising the redefined kelvin” project, leads NPL’s metrology activity in nuclear decommissioning, is a founder member of the “NHS Body Temperature Measurement Group” and is the inaugural chair of the CCT Global Task Group on Improving Body Temperature Measurement.