Archive Anesthesia 2018

Your Options in Patient Warming

The benefits of preventing hypothermia extend well beyond warm welcomes.

Mike Morsch

Mike Morsch, Associate Editor


LAYERED APPROACH Wrapping patients with warmed cotton blankets in pre-op can ease their anxiety and augment the effects of other active warming methods.

No one's ever mistaken a surgical gown for a down jacket, so patients will always appreciate the warm blanket you wrap around them or the active warming method you apply. What they might not realize is that your efforts to keep them comfortable are really aimed at keeping them safe. Warming patients before, during and after surgery limits the risk of post-op infections, improves wound healing and leads to faster recoveries.

Here's a rundown of several patient warming methods you can use to maintain normothermia based on insights from Paul Austin, PhD, CRNA, a professor of nurse anesthesia at Texas Wesleyan University in Fort Worth.

" Cotton blankets. Patients love being wrapped in warmed blankets, but applying the common comfort measure alone won't prevent hypothermia. Blankets are best used to augment active heating measures and boost patient satisfaction scores.

" Convective warming. Disposable and lightweight warming gowns help maintain the body's core temperature, but could impede access to the surgical site, meaning full body covers might have to be replaced with smaller coverlets in the OR. The debate about a popular forced-air warming unit's link to surgical site infections is currently playing out in the federal courts (see "Bair Hugger Absolved in Forced-Air Bellwether Trial" on below).

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