What Is It?
The 3M™ Bair Hugger™ Normothermia System is a safe, effective way to warm patients and maintain their normal body temperature in the perioperative departments since 1987. The warming systems are used by more than 80 percent of the hospitals in the United States. The product was originally designed to monitor, prevent and treat unintended hypothermia in surgical patients. Therefore, the primary goal of the Bair Hugger is to preserve normothermia to prevent surgical complications. Normothermia is defined as maintaining a normal core body temperature. The Bair Hugger devices also aid in conveying positive patient experiences and overall outcomes. The gowns used for warming patients are lightweight and adjustable. The warming units are compact and easy to use. The warming systems are used to provide an accurate, non-invasive, continuous method to measure the body temperatures of patients during their perioperative journey. The Bair Hugger systems are used for all types of patients ranging from pediatrics to complex surgeries. The Bair Hugger website claims that they are the “most used and most studied method of warming” for surgical patients, in fact more than 170 studies have been conducted including 60 randomized controlled clinical trials.
Why Is It Important?
Hypothermia can cause serious complications for surgical patients, including an increased risk of postoperative surgical site infections, prolonged length of hospital stays and longer recovery times. It is key to maintain a surgical patient’s core body temperature greater than 96.8 degrees Celsius throughout the entire procedure to help manage the risk of infection. Unintended hypothermia is a body temperature less than 36 degrees Celsius or 96.8 degrees Fahrenheit, and it is estimated that 50% of all patients undergoing surgery in the United States experience it. The benefits of warming patients consist of a reduction in blood loss, a decrease in the chance of a heart attack and lower mortality rates. If the patient’s body temperature drops 1.5 to 1.9 degrees Celsius, the patient can experience adverse side effects and can lead to increase health care costs. Research conducted has concluded that maintaining normothermia can save anywhere from $2,500 to $7,000 per patient by eliminating potential complications of hypothermia. Hypothermia is linked to an increased risk of surgical bleeding and pressure ulcers. In fact, a study concluded that a decrease in body temperature of 1.6 degrees Celsius or 2.9 Fahrenheit, can increase blood loss and result in the need for blood transfusions. Furthermore, scientific research has determined that surgical patients with cardiovascular disease who experience hypothermia are three times more like to have adverse myocardial outcomes compared to patients who maintained normothermia.
Where Is It Used?
The Bair Hugger products are used in perioperative departments, which include preoperative, intraoperative, PACU and postoperative areas. The preoperative department can use the devices to pre-warm their patients before surgery. This decreases patients’ anxiety and can compensate for the negative side effects associated with a drop in body temperature caused by the induction of anesthesia. As little as 15 minutes of pre-warming is all that is needed to help with distribution of the body’s heat after induction. However best practice advisories recommend to actively warm the patient at least 30 minutes or more prior to surgery. The operating room uses the Bair Hugger to prevent unintended hypothermia by sustaining normothermia during surgery. Also, during induction of anesthesia, the body’s heat is displaced by the core to the peripheral tissues, which are 2 to 4 degrees Celsius cooler. Anesthesia hinders the body’s capability to react to cold and the significant drop in core temperature occurs in the first hour after induction. The body usually responds to a drop of 0.4 degree Celsius in temperature, but when under the influence of anesthesia, the body does not react until a 4-degree Celsius drop. Therefore, the patient experiences unintended hypothermia as a result of not being able to produce enough body heat. Warming of patients in the postoperative/PACU areas is used to help with the recovery process and increase the patient’s overall experience.
- Warming Blanket Systems - (adult and pediatric) - Examples include: Multi-position blankets, Underbody blankets, Pediatric blankets, Preoperative blankets, Postoperative blankets, Intraoperative blankets, Cardiac blankets
- Warming Gown Systems (adult and pediatric)
- Temperature Monitoring Systems
Frequently Asked Questions
I’ve seen advertising suggesting that the Bair Hugger warming system caused infections during knee and hip replacement surgery. Are these advertisements true?According to the Bair Hugger website, this statement is false and the advertisements are wrong. There is no evidence linking the Bair Hugger products to the cause of infections and over 200 million patients have used the Bair Huggers.
Can the Bair Hugger patient warming system cause infections?Again, the Bair Hugger website, reports that their products do not cause infections and there is no evidence proving that the warming systems cause infection. Scientific literature actually advocates that preserving normal body temperature during surgery can have various benefits.
How prevalent are surgical site infections??The Bair Hugger website claims that “about one of every 100 patients develops an infection after surgery.” It is important to factor in patient’s various risk factors which may influence the possibility of surgery site infection. Some of these risk factors include diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, being elderly, being overweight and smoking.
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