Due to environmental factors, invasiveness, anesthesia, and physiological reposnse, surgical procedures can often result in the onset of perioperative hypothermia resulting in patient discomfort, diminished recovery, or even death. To help increase the success ratio, we have compiled a list of the top 10 methods for addressing perioperative hypothermia.
1. Temperature Monitoring - adequate temperature monitoring that is consistent and regular can warn of any changes that may need to be addressed before, during, and after the procedure. A slight shift of temperature can lead to hypothermia.
2. Pre-warming - this is the process of using warmed blankets, irrigation, and injection fluids prior to surgery and during the administration of anesthesia to keep the patient's core temperature within a normal range.
3. Pre-surgical OR Warming - before the procedure begins and while the patient is being prepped, it is helpful to keep the operating room warm. This can be adjusted for surgical team comfort once the process begins.
4. Limit patient surface exposure - use drapes and blankets to limit the amount of body surface area that is exposed to the cool temperatures of the operating room.
5. Warmed I.V. and irrigation fluids - administering warmed fluids can help the body maintain a higher core temperature throughout the procedure.
6. Shorter intervals - monitoring and adjusting temperature control at 30 minute intervals can improve overall responsiveness. According to research, the most drastic temperature change occurs within the first 30 minutes of a procedure and increases after the first hour.
7. Choosing temperature monitoring sites - the core temperature may vary from the outer skin and extremities. Choosing various monitoring sites, especially those more related to core temperature, such as the distal esophagus.
8. Employ monitoring in all surgical procedures - just because a procedure is short or minor does not mean that the risk of perioperative hypothermia is not as great.
9. Special care of pediatric patients - pediatric patients have a large surface area to body mass ratio making them more susceptible to environmental factors.
10. Post-Surgical care - continue thermal management efforts after the procedure and through the healing process to reduce infection and enhance healing.