Field experiences with handheld diagnostic devices to triage children under five presenting with severe febrile illness in a district hospital in DR Congo

Bieke Tack, Daniel Vita, Irène Mansosa, Thomas Nsema Mbaki, Naomie Wasolua, Aimée Luyindula, Jaan Toelen, Octavie Lunguya, Jan Jacobs

Research output: Contribution to journalA1: Web of Science-article


As part of a field study (NCT04473768) in children presenting with severe febrile illness to Kisantu hospital (DR Congo), we retrospectively compiled user experiences (not performance) with handheld diagnostic devices assisting triage: tympanic thermometer, pulse oximeter (measuring heart rate, respiratory rate and oxygen saturation), hemoglobinometer and glucometer. Guidance documents for product selection were generic and scattered. Stock rupture, market withdrawal and unaffordable prices interfered with procurement. Challenges at implementation included environmental temperature, capillary blood sampling (antisepsis, order of multiple tests, filling microcuvettes and glucose strips), calibration (environmental temperature, cold chain) and liability-oriented communication with a manufacturer. Instructions for use were readable and contained symbol keys; two devices had printed French-language instructions. Shortcomings were poor integration of figures with text and distinct procedures for the oximeter and its sensor. Usability interview revealed appreciations for quick results, visibility of the display and memory function (three devices) but also problems of capillary blood sample transfer, cleaning, too long of a time-to-results (respiratory rate) and size, fitting and disposal of thermometer probes. Pictorial error messages were preferred over alphanumeric error codes but interpretation of symbols was poor. Alarm sounds of the oximeter caused unrest in children and caretakers perceived the device as associated with poor prognosis.

Original languageEnglish
Article number746
JournalDiagnostics (Basel)
Issue number3
Number of pages21
Publication statusPublished - 2022

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