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Archive November 2020 XXI, No. 11

Normothermia Is the New Normal

Turn up the heat on proactive patient warming to stave off the chilling effects of surgery.

Daniel Cook

Daniel Cook, Editor-in-Chief


WARMING TREND Efforts to improve warming practices must begin with an assessment of patient temperature readings over time.

Warm blankets and warming devices are easy-to-apply interventions that prevent a patient's temperature from dipping below 36°C before, during and after surgery. So why is inadvertent perioperative hypothermia still an issue? Spectrum Healthcare Partners, a multispecialty physician-owned medical group based in Southport, Maine, had been documenting how many patients are normothermic when they come out of the OR at the group's former orthopedic surgery centers.

"We'd been measuring that rate for a long time within our anesthesia group," says Miriam Dowling-Schmitt, MS, RN, CPHQ, CPPS, director of quality at Spectrum. "Although a majority of our patients were emerging from surgery normothermic, we noticed some opportunities for improvement."

The ultimate push for change came at the start of 2018, when CMS began requiring the documentation of a normothermic temperature reading within 15 minutes of a patient's arrival in the PACU as a quality metric of the Ambulatory Surgery Center Quality Reporting (ASCQR) Program. Spectrum seized the opportunity to review their internal data to make sure the patient warming practices at the surgery centers met the ASCQR's national benchmark of 95% or more of patients being normothermic in recovery.

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