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When to use hot packs?

Nurses   (13,157 Views 14 Comments)
by RNsRWe RNsRWe, ASN, RN (Member)

3 Articles; 89,150 Profile Views; 10,428 Posts

Might seem like a dumb question (if you know the answer!) but I've gotta ask it, since I don't.

It's that time of year when I restock the first aid kits in the cars, camper, wherever. Every first aid kit I've ever had has had both hot and cold packs in them. Sometimes they are the break apart, heat-in-the-field kind. Sometimes they're supposed to go in a microwave. The cold packs are either freeze-aheads, or also chemical snap things that get instantly cold when you're away from freezer.

So.....I've used cold packs from these kits with kids' minor sports injuries and boo-boos. But never hot packs. On my med-surg unit, we've got ice for a ton of things, but never hot packs.

When do you USE them?? For what?

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classicdame is a MSN, EdD and specializes in Hospital Education Coordinator.

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Mostly for comfort due to strains, sprains, but never within 24 hr of injury as heat will increase bleeding time & therefore increase bruising. Cramps, tummy aches for little people, chills after falling into the lake - I guess there are reasons but, like you, I think the cool packs are more versatile.

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NurseyBaby'05 is a BSN, RN and specializes in Neuro/Med-Surg/Oncology.

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I make and use warm compresses for pain relief or relaxation. A lot of times pt's refuse PRNs or else the PRNs aren't lasting long enough and the warmth offers some relief. Often the heat is just soothing. It helps pt's relax. I found the compresses good for my anxious old grannies. I set it right on their chests or bellies. They would drift off to sleep with them when nothing else would work. The other nice thing is that you don't have to wait for the head to wear off like you would with a med. If it's not working or it's making you feel worse, just remove it. No harm, no foul.

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Roy Fokker is a BSN, RN and specializes in ER/Trauma.

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On my surgical floor, most docs won't bat an eye about cold packs ... but some 'of 'em will throw a hissy fit with hot packs applied without their permission (especially the gen surg/abd surg people).

cheers,

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NurseyBaby'05 is a BSN, RN and specializes in Neuro/Med-Surg/Oncology.

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Yeah, we have a few like that, but they're also the ones that have a fit if you call them for anything. :rolleyes: Most of us have enough common sense about when and when not to use them.

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75 Posts; 3,164 Profile Views

in our department....it's also depends on what you use hot packs for....any post surgical patients we don't because of possibility of increase bleeding and bruising on the surgical site. we mostly use cold packs especially ortho patients. and also if we have to use hot pack, we use K-pad because the temperature is preset so as to prevent burn. hot packs is mostly use in my opinion to promote relaxation and relief. and unfortunatley, though we can order K-pad as a nursing order, we still have to notify the MD.

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lorita specializes in ER Occ Health Urgent Care.

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first 24-48 hours ice a strain after that heat helps, and of course if you're stuck in a snow storm they're great too! lol

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EricJRN is a MSN, RN and specializes in NICU.

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In the NICU, we use them for warming heels prior to capillary puncture for lab draws.

In my EMS career (and once in the NICU), I've seen them used to try and make some veins pop up for a patient who is a really tough IV stick. Can't say I've ever seen it work too well...

For first aid purposes, never used one.

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Roy Fokker is a BSN, RN and specializes in ER/Trauma.

1 Follower; 2 Articles; 2,010 Posts; 32,408 Profile Views

I've seen them used to try and make some veins pop up for a patient who is a really tough IV stick. Can't say I've ever seen it work too well...
I've used 'em up on my floor - success rate is about 50-50. I think with the heat, it also depends on what kind of pressure you use.

I like to use "wet", rather than 'dry' or 'damp' cloths because I think increasing local humidity stimulates vasodilation....

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1,318 Posts; 10,721 Profile Views

in my life as a patient hot packs have been used on me to:

1. make veins more prominent because I am a tough stick

2. when my iv's infiltrate to make the pain less severe.

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110 Posts; 3,725 Profile Views

This is taken from an icy hot commercial: Icy to dull the pain and hot to relax it away.

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3 Articles; 10,428 Posts; 89,150 Profile Views

Thanks for the clue on how hot packs might be used in nursing :)

Now I still gotta figure out what to do with all the hot packs I've collected over the years from various first-aid kits my family has!

Still have no idea when I'd use them for a family first-aid situation.

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