Patient Warming: A Key Factor in Patient Satisfaction

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SurgiStrategies spoke with experts on the effects, benefits and product evaluation tips on patient warming, which plays a significant role in patient satisfaction.

What are some benefits of patient warming in preop, OR and PACU? Are there any benefits that are ASC specific?

Michelle Lamory, temperature management product manager and market analyst, medical devices marketing, Kimberly-Clark Health Care: The optimal approach to perioperative temperature management is to prevent patients from ever becoming hypothermic, which starts in the pre-op area and continues during surgery and PACU. There are different patient warming modalities that can be used in each setting to help keep patients normothermic. Patients in whom normothermia has been maintained during the intraoperative period experience fewer adverse outcomes with a resulting decrease in costs.¹ Intraoperative thermoregulation leads to quicker extubations, reduced post-op bleeding, decreased transfusions and shorter ICU and hospital stays.

Troy Bergstrom, marketing communications manager, Arizant Healthcare Inc: The induction of anesthesia disrupts the body’s ability to regulate temperature and is the single greatest contributor to unintended hypothermia. By beginning active warming before surgery, or prewarming, with forced-air warming gowns or blankets, facilities can offset the initial temperature drop caused by anesthesia. Only 30 minutes of forced-air warming before surgery is sufficient to offset up to one hour of postanesthesia redistribution heat loss. Continued warming throughout surgery and into PACU further ensures a normothermic patient. Maintaining normothermia has been shown to result in savings of $2,500 to $7,000 per patient that might otherwise be spent treating the complications of unintended hypothermia—including an increased rate of wound infection, extended length of hospital stay and increased mortality rates. In addition, warming patients before surgery keeps them warm and comfortable, which can impact patient satisfaction scores.

Karen Hansen, CEO, Enthermics: The benefits of patient warming are well documented and there is a wide variety of literature on the subject. One, it will help with patient satisfaction surveys, two it has been shown that unplanned perioperative hypothermia increases the chance of developing surgical site infections. SSIs increase hospital costs from $3,500 to $18,000 per patient because of lengthened patient stays. ASCs have the same risks as hospitals in terms of hospital-acquired infections and in particular SSIs.

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