Baker and Sutton’s research focused on the temperatures of blankets warmed for patients after surgery. Regulations from the Emergency Care Research Institute said the blankets had to be set at 110 degrees. But the nurses noticed that patients were still cold with 110 degree blankets, and that even at 110 degrees, the blankets felt like room temperature.
“Sometimes I would hear nurses tell patients ‘I’m sorry it’s not very warm’ before covering a patient with a 110 degree blanket,” Sutton said.
In comparison, clothes that are fresh out of a dryer are at 200 degrees.
Sutton and Baker wanted to see if blankets warmed to 155 degrees instead of 110 would provide more thermal comfort while still maintaining patient safety. After going through the proper channels to receive permission, they enrolled 156 consenting patients in a study. Over the course of six weeks, some of the patients received 110 degree blankets while others received 155 degree blankets.
The result? Patients with the 155 degree blankets had a 1 to 2 degree warmer skin temperature and reported a higher level of comfort than the patients with the 110 degree blankets.
“When you put a 155 blanket on a patient, they say ‘Oohhh, thank you so much,’” Baker said.
The nurses will present their study at the South Carolina Nursing Excellence Conference. And, they have been accepted for both podium and poster presentations at the national convention for the American Society of Perianesthesia Nurses in Seattle this month.
“We would love to see more nurses involved in research,” Baker said. “We researched and proved through testing that the warmer blankets are safe and more comforting to patients.”