The body’s ideal temperature is between 95-100 degrees Fahrenheit, which is also the ideal temperature for fluids that it receives by infusion. From pediatric clinics to wartime medical tents, keeping intravenous fluids warm has presented a challenge, one that has been solved with the invention of special warming devices. To keep fluid warm, doctors can use portable devices that ensure a temperature of at least 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Referred to as warmers and fluid warmers, these devices are more than a convenience. In many cases, they have saved someone’s life.
The Effects of Hypothermia
Often thought of as a condition that results solely from cold exposure, hypothermia is technically defined as “having a dangerously low body temperature,” which can result from more than cold exposure. In fact, 65 percent of surgical patients experience hypothermia due the cooling effect of anesthetics and the administration of cold intravenous fluids. Hypothermia also affects those who receive cold infusions while en route to the emergency room.
In clinical settings, hypothermia is associated with increased risk of infection, increased blood loss during surgery and increased risk of heart injury, and is thus associated with additional medical tests, additional surgical procedures and ultimately, longer hospital stays. In addition to being potentially deadly, hypothermia can also leave patients with higher medical bills..
Implementing Pediatric Fluid Warmers
Dangerous for adults, hypothermia and its risk factors can be fatal for infants, whose developing immune systems, poor temperature control and small body mass predispose them to the condition. Along with the elderly and the homeless, infants are one of the groups most at risk for hypothermic death-a risk that can be mitigated with the implementation of pediatric fluid warmers.
In 2010, a stunning 1.8 million hospital infusions administered were not administered warm, and almost no pre-hospital EMS infusions were warm. Considering the affordability, portability and improved functionality of the IV fluid warmer, its absence in today’s hospitals is more than a curiosity; it is also a tragedy.
Unlike equipment that requires significant capital investment, careful integration with existing equipment, and even adjustments to a facility’s electrical system, fluid warmers are affordable, easy to implement and result in no collateral cost upon implementation.
Insufficient Warming Techniques
Physicians know that blankets, warm beverages and warm environments provide insufficient warmth for patients whose body temperature is below 95 degrees Fahrenheit. And the more their temperature drops, the more insufficient these methods become. In addition to preventing post-surgical hypothermia, IV warmers help to stabilize body temperature in a short period of time-a critical benefit for infants and children who need immediate surgery following blood loss.
IV warmers use simple technology to address a complex need: warming the body quickly and/or sustaining its warmth, particularly before, during and after surgery. Until now, their transition from a hospital technology to an EMS technology has been slow. But with new warmers that reduce warm up time to 30 seconds, weigh less than 10 ounces, and run on batteries, EMS units are increasingly delivering warm infusions instead of cold ones.