Inadvertent Perioperative Hypothermia: Current Nursing Knowledge

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Inadvertent perioperative hypothermia is estimated to affect 70% of surgical patients and is associated with adverse clinical outcomes, lengthened hospital stays, and increased costs. To better understand the current level of nursing knowledge on this subject since the release of the “Guideline for prevention of unplanned patient hypothermia,” we conducted an e-mail survey of AORN members. The overall response rate was 6.5% (N = 324), and most responding nurses overestimated or underestimated the lower and upper limits for normothermia. When asked about the most common complications associated with hypothermia, respondents identified shivering (68.2%), surgical site infections (65.4%), and cardiac events (61.7%); only 44.8% and 33.6% identified blood loss and pressure injuries, respectively. These results indicate a need for ongoing interventions to increase awareness and promote best practices to prevent and manage inadvertent perioperative hypothermia.

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