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Large Study Finds Patient Warming Should Be Routine

Published: October 15, 2020

Researchers says patient warming is an inexpensive and easily implementable intervention.

LOW INFECTION RATES Credit: Pamela Bevelhymer, RN, BSN, CNOR
LOW INFECTION RATES Researchers found a statistically significant correlation between perioperative patient warming and SSI prevention.

If you haven't yet fully embraced patient warming technologies and methodologies, you might not be caring for your patients as well as you could be. A systematic review and meta-analysis of nine studies and 3,627 patients published this year examined the efficacy of perioperative warming interventions on rates of surgical site infection (SSI). The study focused specifically on the occurrence of SSIs after procedures, but also examined rehabilitative length of stay, attributable SSI-related mortality and incidence of readmittance.

Authors of the study reported a "significantly reduced risk ratio" for SSI in patients who received warming, along with "limited further data" supporting active warming over passive warming. They found lengths of post-op stays and wound healing scores demonstrated greater outcomes for surgical patients who received perioperative warming, and determined that the introduction of warming interventions consistently correlated with reduced patient-reported pain experiences and downstream care expenditures.

Overall, the researchers found a statistically significant correlation between perioperative warming interventions and SSI prevention. As a result, they said their findings strongly support the recommendation of standardized perioperative warming implementation. They urged continued investigation into comparing the relative efficacy of active and passive methodologies through studies across more diverse and substantial patient population sizes.

The authors noted that active warming requires more buy-in, awareness and monitoring from perioperative staff than passive warming techniques or no warming at all. Ultimately, they said surgical staffs should warm your patients. As a largely inexpensive and easily implementable measure, perioperative warming should be routinely used across surgical procedures with moderate-to-strong strength of recommendation in the absence of contradictory clinical findings, they wrote.

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