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A new study published Tuesday in the medical journal JAMA finds that temporal thermometers – used to measure body temperature on the forehead – may be less accurate than oral thermometers at detecting fevers among hospitalized Black patients.
Temporal thermometers gained popularity during the last two years, yet the global pandemic wasn’t the first time that a medical tool important for evaluating Covid-19 patients has been found less effective as it should in Black patients.
According to CNN, other studies have found that pulse oximeters – small devices that clamp onto a finger to monitor oxygen levels in the blood – may also yield inaccurate readings among people of color.
Black people have been unfairly treated by American medical institutions for generations
New data from the National Center for Health Statistics shows that Black maternal mortality rose significantly during the pandemic — and that Black women are three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than their white counterparts.
The researchers – from Emory University in Atlanta and the University of Hawaiʻi John A. Burns School of Medicine in Honolulu – examined the performance of temporal thermometers and oral thermometers in detecting fever among 2,031 Black and 2,344 White patients with infections. The patients were admitted to four Emory hospitals between 2014 and 2021.
They found that the overall temporal temperature readings tended to be lower than the oral temperature readings in Black people but not in White people.
The researchers wrote in their study that the difference in temporal versus oral thermometer readings among Black patients can lead to fevers going undetected more often – and subsequently, an illness could be misdiagnosed or even untreated.
Information in this article was obtained via CNN.