Archive Anesthesia 2019

Don't Put Off Patient Warming

Efforts to prevent hypothermia work best when they begin in pre-op.

Connie Garrett

Connie Garrett, MSN, RN, CNL, CNOR


Pamela Bevelhymer, RN, BSN, CNOR
WARM AIR Pre-warming prevents the significant temperature drop that can occur during anesthesia induction.

Think of patient warming like saving for retirement — the sooner you begin, the more effective it is. Applying active warming measures in pre-op builds up a bank of thermal heat in patients so they're better able to withstand the chilling effects of donning a thin gown and laying in a cool OR while being subjected to the vasodilation properties of general anesthesia. During induction, thermal energy shifts from the body's core to its periphery, putting patients at increased risk of hypothermia-related complications. Hypothermic patients are more likely to suffer cardiac arrhythmias, ischemia and arrest. Their immune systems are impaired, putting them at increased risk of post-op infection. They're less likely to be satisfied with the care they receive and might not be ready for timely discharges.

There's no question active warming should be an important part of your efforts to ensure core body temperatures don't dip below 36°C before, during or after surgery, and it should begin as soon as patients shed their street clothes.

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