Reduce Surgical Site Infections With Patient Warming

Posted by Sarah Millard on Categories: #blanket warmers   #fluid warmers   #normothermia   #patient warming   #surgical site infection  

As healthcare providers, you want to administer the best possible care to your patients, from pre-op to post-op. You want to address the underlying condition, but in doing so, ensure that your patient doesn’t have any more painful, costly and time-consuming complications.

Surgical site infections (SSI) cause complications for your patient, starting with a fever, redness and pain around the affected area, and/or cloudy fluid drainage. An estimated 2-5 percent of inpatient surgeries develop an SSI in the United States, leading to a higher risk of increased hospital stay and even death.

In addition to increased suffering for patients, these infections have a cost to the hospital. SSI can increase hospital stays by a week, with the added cost ranging from $11,000 to $35,000, according to the Virginia Department of Health.

If you are looking for ways to decrease your rate of SSIs, take a look at Vancouver General Hospital’s recent successes in reducing post-operative infections. Using the acronym “CLEAN”, the hospital has managed to reduce SSIs by 77 percent during open heart surgeries, according to the American College of Surgeons:

  • C: Clean hands before touching the dressing, chlorhexidine wipes applied to the body before surgery, clippers used for hair removal instead of shaving, and nasal decolonization (disinfecting the nostrils with ultraviolet light) performed

  • L: Leave the dressing on for 72 hours postoperatively, and leave the pink chlorhexidine disinfectant on the skin for 6 hours after the operation

  • E: Engage patients and staff on best practices for SSI prevention

  • A: Appropriately use antibiotics

  • N: Normothermia (normal body temperature), normal blood glucose (sugar), nutritious meals, and no smoking for patients

There are many benefits to patient warming and maintaining normothermia, including reducing infection rates and hypothermia risks. However, not all warming systems are created equal. Forced air warming systems that blow air over the patient risk disturbing and spreading microbes from floors and areas outside the sterile field. These microbes can increase the risk of infection. Using heated blankets and fluids instead of forced air systems decreases the risk of infection while maintaining the overall benefits of patient warming.

At Enthermics, we are known as the “Warming People” because we take every possible measure to ensure that we develop warming products that not only increase patient comfort, but also help reduce infection rates in operating rooms throughout the world. 

Photo Credit: 593rd Sustainment Command/Flickr

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