Archive for the ‘Patient warmers’ Category

Some times patients need warming up, maybe because they have been exposed to cold temperatures for a prolonged time sometimes known as unintended hypothermia. They may need their body temperature maintained during or after surgery where the core body temperature has or is at risk of falling below 36c.

The old system of doing it was with a warm water bath with an internal pump and two tubes with connectors and a water blanket. The blanket has waterways built into the plastic. The connectors on the blanket attached to the water bath connectors. The patients lay on the blanket and warm water was pumped through. The problem with this system was that the patient was only warmed on one side.

In terms of maintenance it amounted to this. The water bath needed to be electrically safety checked every year. At the same time you should check that the temperature of the water in the bath was what you expected it to be. The blanket when in use would be just nicely warm to the touch. The pump needed little maintenance and I don’t recall ever having to replace one. There was the possibility of water leaks. These leaks either came from the pipework side the unit or much more often from holes in the blanket. The internal ones were easy enough to fix, sometimes the tubing needed to be replaced, the early versions had polythene tubing that we replaced with silicone when it needs it. The mattress, as I wrote, sometimes suffered from pinprick holes caused by the staff puncturing the plastic. To repair them it was a simple job to find the hole, mark it with a felt tipped pen, drain the water out of the blanket, dry very well the area then apply a patch with polythene glue and put a weight on it to keep it tight while the glue set. Leave it for a good twenty-four hours then connect it to the water bath and run it to make sure it was not leaking. We got the patches from an old blanket that had been condemned. The connectors between the blanket and the water bath hoses were made of metal and never needed repairing.

This type of warmer went out of use some time ago and we moved to warm air from a blower. The make we used was called a Bair Hugger made by 3Ms and is what is called forced air warming. The warm air is blown from the unit into disposable blankets via a large bore corrugated tube. Once in the blanket, that sits on top and down the sides of the patient, it filters out through lots of tiny holes in the underside.

As I wrote, the water blankets only heat the parts of the body laying on it. The problem is that this part of the body is likely to be the warmest anyway, it is the top and sides that are likely to get cold. The Bair Hugger claims to heat 64% of the body.

The control panel on the unit allows you to select high, medium, low or ambient temperatures. An electronic thermometer is used with an adaptor on the corrugated tubing to check the temperatures are within range. temperature checks, electrical safety checks and air filter replacements need to be done once a year. The air filter maybe more often depending on the level of dust around. The service book for there is available on the internet.

In terms of problems, the main one was the hose getting damaged, the buttons, which are bubble buttons, can wear though. Easy to replace with a completely new panel that sticks in place. I think that once I had to replace a motor that had become noisy.

Here is a picture on one.



Then we had infant warmers. These could be put over a cot and would keep the baby warm through radiant heat. The heat level was adjustable, time was adjustable and the head could be moved up and down. The baby could be fitted with a temperature sensor that monitors the heat level and could automatically adjust to whatever level had been selected. This one is made by the New Zealand company of Fisher and ┬áPaykel. I won’t go into the maintenance of these other than to say they needed an annual service and safety check. Seldom got problems with them. Below is a picture of one. They are also available with a cot and heater as one unit.



Another system I have read about but not seen in the hospital is an electric blanket that is put under the patients but I suppose you could also put it on top of them. In cold countries, people who like to get into a warm bed use them to warm the bed up.


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