Conductive Patient Warming Wins Out Over Forced Air

Posted by Megan Harris on

A recent article published in Anesthesiology News examines a study that shows that forced-air warming may not be as effective at maintaining normothermia through the entire perioperative period as some had previously thought. Even when warmed with expensive forced-air warming systems, some patients still fell into postoperative hypothermia, showing that the gentle, radiant and reliable heat from conductive blanket and fluid warming may, in fact, be more effective at maintaining long-term normothermia.

According to the study, 7.2% (23) of the 316 patients still experienced postoperative hypothermia while having been actively warmed through a medium utilizing  forced-air warming technology. This is especially alarming because patients with postoperative hypothermia are more likely to experience adverse effect or even death  within 30 days of surgery than those who maintain normothermia.

“As this study shows, some patients still get cold despite active forced-air warming. In these individuals, we need to go beyond forced-air warming blankets and use other warming approaches,” said Dr. Dutton, the executive director of the Anesthesia Quality Institute, in Park Ridge, Ill.

Using radiantly warmed blankets and fluids remains a very effective and reliable way to maintain normothermia in  patients. There is far less energy and material waste associated with the equipment used to warm the blankets and fluids, and it often results in a more comfortable and safer experience for the patient overall:  reduced potential for  contamination based upon forced air, , just soft, conductive heat either wrapped gently surrounding  the patient or being introduced intravenously.

Not only does normothermia support the health and recovery of the patient, but it has also been proven to result in reduced anxiety in addition to expediting patient discharge times. Maintaining normothermia with radiantly heated warming also decreases blood loss, surgical site infections and repeated hospitalizations. So, choose the proven method for maintaining normothermia to ensure that all, not just some, of your patients reap the benefits of proper and effective patient warming.

Photo Credit: 593rd Sustainment Command/Flickr

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