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Hypothermia in Non-Trauma Patients

The effects of hypothermia on patients whose injuries are not severe, or in minor surgeries is not as life threatening. A group at St. Joseph Medical Center, Wichita, Kansas studied the need for maintaining normal body temperature during laparoscopic surgery, which although serious, does not possess the risk characteristics and considerations of trauma surgery. In their study [1], they list several risk factors for patients in “intra-operative” hypothermia (hypothermia occurring during surgery). Those risk factors include, among others:

  1. cool ambient operating room temperatures
  2. prolonged surgical procedures
  3. exposure of abdominal and thoracic cavities
  4. age, with both elderly and infants being at greatest risk
  5. infusion of room-temperature IV fluids during surgery.

These factors and others generally cause hypothermia in an estimated 77% of surgical patients according to a study by Dr. G.J. Slotman, et al. [2] Other studies have found problems associated with hypothermia in the post-anesthesia phase of patients surgical experiences. Problems with monitoring blood pressures, assessing respiratory rates and ascertaining cardiac sounds are caused by patient hypothermia. [3]