Don't touch that Thermostat!


Why is the hospital thermostat controlled by the one or two people who are NOT hurrying, lifting patients and dragging computer carts everywhere they go?

You know what I mean. You arrive on the floor at 0630 and before you've even logged onto your computer, a sweat has broken out across the back of your neck.

Now, I understand the challenges facing the night staff. They're fighting their diurnal rhythms. Of course they get cold, but they should throw on a scrub jacket. They should pull on a t shirt under their scrub top. Hell, they should pull on wool tights before they turn up that thermostat.

Why? Because our patients sleep better when it's cool. Sleep is essential to the function of the immune system. Rest is essential to seriously ill people who have to try to muster the strength to get back on their feet.

I have seen patients sweating off their NG tube tape. Shedding their IV securement and tegaderm. Stat locks on Foleys fall off. And IV tubing in a warm room becomes soft, folds over and occludes, setting off all the alarms.

Delirious, confused patients pull at all these things because when they're sweating, tape itches. When it's warm enough, they pull off their gowns, too. There's no hope of hiding an IV up a patient's sleeve when they feel too hot to keep that sleeve on.

I cannot help but wonder if the use of restraints goes up with the ambient temperature.

Now, I worked the night shift for 18 months as a new nurse, so I'm not unsympathetic…and I know some places have policies limiting the type of jacket people are allowed to wear. And I know the day shift also harbors staff members who spend more time at their desk than a nurse or a CNA, people who take a chill, say, after lunch every day.

But we all have other options open to us, and we should think twice before turning up the thermostat for either staff or visitors' comfort. Don't our patient's come first?


603 Posts

Has 20 years experience.

On my floor it's the opposite problem. The nurse's station and hallways feel like the frozen tundra, and the thermostat is dominated by the ones who are sweating. Our patient rooms have individual thermostats for control, so their comfort is not considered when setting the unit thermostat.


916 Posts

Specializes in Critical care.

I don't know where you've worked where the temperature is set to make the nurses happy. Temperature of patients room is set to make the patient happy and man, sometimes those rooms are like a sauna. Certain areas of my unit are freezing- I'm wearing my work jacket, a fleece, and wrapping up in a blanket at night sometimes. Other areas, especially when I'm moving around a lot, feel super warm. We don't have control over the temperature of the unit in general.

Has 13 years experience.

HA! I only wish our thermostats worked. It's a very old hospital and while every patient room has their own thermostat, they rarely reflect the actual temperature of the room. One part of the floor it'll be hot as heck (often it seems like it's the patients in isolation so you are really sweating under that mask, gown, and gloves), 4 rooms down and you can nearly see your breath. I just show up in my regular scrub top and always have a jacket with me. I have gotten a blanket out of the warmer a time or two. Often if you are that cold you just move to another part of the unit and you heat right up.