Body temperature of trauma patients on admission to hospital: a comparison of anaesthetised and non-anaesthetised patients

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Abstract

Background

Hypothermia at hospital admission has been found to independently predict increased mortality in trauma patients.

Objectives

To establish if patients anaesthetised in the prehospital phase of care had a higher rate of hypothermia than non-anaesthetised patients on admission to hospital.

Methods

Retrospective review of admission body temperature in 1292 consecutive prehospital trauma patients attended by a physician-led prehospital trauma service admitted to The Royal London Hospital between 1 July 2005 and 31 December 2008.

Results

38% had a temperature recorded on admission. There was a significant difference in body temperature between the anaesthetised group (N=207) and the non-anaesthetised group (N=287): mean (SD) 35.0 (2.1) vs 36.2 (1.0)°C, respectively (p<0.001). No significant seasonal body temperature variation was demonstrated.

Conclusion

This study confirmed that patients anaesthetised in the prehospital phase of care had a significantly lower admission body temperature. This has led to a change in the author's prehospital practice. Anaesthetised patients are now actively surface heated and have whole body insulation to prevent further heat loss in an attempt to conserve body temperature and improve outcome. This is an example of best in-hospital anaesthetic practice being carried out in the prehospital phase.

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