Q: “Is there any difference between a regular thermometer and an electronic [digital] one? Someone told me the electronic ones are not very reliable when trying to tell if someone has a fever. Is that true?”
Thank you for your question about the reliability of digital thermometers when compared to the glass, mercury-filled ones many of us grew up with. It’s important to know if our tools are giving us the right readings!
One of the best sources for finding information about the reliability of certain products is “Consumer Reports”. Our company offer free access to this popular magazine online and in our local. Online, you just need your library card number (located on the back of your library card) and your PIN to log into the “Magazines” area.Once there, you can search by publication or subject to find articles.
For your question, I searched on ‘Consumer Reports’ for studies about the reliability and accuracy of digital thermometers and see that the most recent article is titled, “Hottest fever thermometers” (Nov2011, Vol. 76 Issue 11, p7-7). In this article, the authors identify some discrepancies with digital thermometers but emphasize that it is small. They state:
“The most accurate thermometers were within 0.5 degree of our medical thermometer, and all but one were at least good at repeating a retaken temperature. The exception: the lowest rated Vicks ComfortFlex.”
Further details, including the ranking of a variety of products, are provided on the article available through the Delaware Libraries, and other information about thermometers is freely available on Consumer Reports’ site.