Normothermia and Patient Comfort: A Comparative Study in an Outpatient Surgery Setting

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ASPAN guidelines for the prevention of unplanned perioperative hypothermia define normothermia as a core temperature between 36 and 38°C and an acceptable level of warmth. Over a six-month period, more than 30% of the same-day surgery patients experienced hypothermic core temperatures on admission to the preoperative unit. The purpose of the study was to compare two preoperative warming methods (forced-air gowns vs traditional warmed cotton blankets) on oral body temperatures, and patients reported “thermal” comfort in ambulatory surgery patients. A repeated measures experimental design study included 150 subjects in Pre-op who were randomly assigned to either the control warmed blankets group or the experimental forced-air gown group. Oral temperatures and thermal comfort assessments were measured every 30 minutes while the patients were in Pre-op, and on admission and discharge from the Phase I PACU. There was no significant difference in postoperative temperature between the subjects warmed with blankets and the warm-air gowns. Subjects warmed with the warm-air gowns reported higher comfort scores after 30 minutes of warming than those warmed with blankets. The change in comfort score from baseline to 30 minutes post warming was greater in the warm-air gown group (P = .001), indicating that warm-air gowns contribute to patients' increased thermal comfort.

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