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In Their Own Words: Outpatient Surgery Readers on Patient Warming

Published: October 15, 2020

A recent online poll revealed the many benefits of maintaining normothermia.

When Outpatient Surgery recently polled its readers about patient warming, a majority of the 420 respondents (63%) said they "always" warm patients, while just 3% said they never do, indicating widespread adoption of warming protocols in surgical facilities. As far as the devices these facilities use for warming, over 80% of respondents reported they use both active forced-air warming and warmed blankets, depending on the situation. In addition, a majority of respondents said they warm the patient throughout the entire perioperative episode.

We also asked respondents about how patient warming has specifically changed outcomes, and received a wealth of insight. Increased patient satisfaction and shorter PACU stays were the most recurrent themes, but respondents also mentioned other benefits: less medication given, lower SSI rates, calmer and less anxious patients, decreased post-op shivering, quicker discharges and overall better outcomes. Some facilities have been warming patients for years or even decades; others were in the process of trialing warming techniques. Some facilities have measured specific improvements; others rely on positive anecdotal experiences to tout the method.

Here's a sampling of what readers told us:

  • "Patients respond more quickly, spend less time in PACU and are discharged from the facility comfortably." – Loren R. Kennett, RN, BS, MBA, director of nursing, Zion Eye Institute and Surgery Center in St. George, Utah.
  • "Patients are more comfortable, are able to fall asleep easier, and have less pain when they are warm." – Karen Hilliard, RN, department director of operating room, Washington County Regional Medical Center in Sandersville, Ga.
  • "Helping patients keep warm and comfortable lessens anxiety and aids in pain management." – Evalee Malespini, RN, surgical services manager, Midvalley Ambulatory Surgery Center in Basalt, Colo.
  • "Patients are more comfortable in PACU when forced-air warming and warm blankets are utilized. They awaken and are ready for discharge sooner when warmed." – Pamela Borello, BS, RN, CNOR, CSSM, Michigan Cosmetic Surgery Center in West Bloomfield, Mich.
  • "Patients are more satisfied when they are warm and comfortable, especially when they feel so vulnerable," – Sue Tachon, RN, BSN, nurse administrator, Elite Surgical Center in Wayne, N.J.
  • "I feel patient warming has decreased our PACU times. Also, it gives the patient a better outlook on their whole experience at our ASC." – Nancy J. Mandel, RN, operating room coordinator, Miracle Hills Surgery Center in Omaha, Neb.
  • "Patients wake up quicker and more stable in PACU, and they love being warmed in pre-op with only a thin gown on, especially when wait times are extended." – Tammy Stanfield, BSN, RN, CCRN, administrator and director of nursing, North Pines Surgery Center in Conroe, Texas.
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