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Patients' and healthcare workers' perception on ambient operating theatre temperatures: A-144

Poopalalingam, R.; Tan, Z. W.

European Journal of Anaesthesiology: May 2005 - Volume 22 - Issue - p 40
Ambulatory Anaesthesia

Department of Anaesthesia and Surgical Intensive Care, Singapore General Hospital, Singapore City, Singapore

Background and Goal of Study: The study aims to determine the correlation between low ambient operating theatre (OT) temperatures and the incidence of perioperative hypothermia and to understand the perceptions of patients and healthcare workers regarding the ambient OT temperature.

Materials and Methods: 46 patients and 53 healthcare workers (17 surgeons, 19 anaesthetists and 17 nurses) were enrolled. The patient's body temperature was taken using a tympanic thermometer at 5 points. The questionnaire was completed postoperatively in the recovery room after the patients had recovered from anaesthesia.

Results and Discussions: The mean ambient OT temperature was 18.4 ± 0.2°C. This could explain the high incidence of hypothermia (54.3%) among patients when they left the OT. 95.7% of patients, 94.7% of anaesthetists and 94.1% of nurses felt that the OT was cold. However, only 58.8% of surgeons found the OT cold. 84.2% of anaesthetist and 64.7% of nurses but only 41.2% of surgeons agreed that a higher OT temperature would improve patient comfort and should be implemented. Surgeons find the ambient OT temperature just nice because they wear OT gowns and work under the OT lights. 42.1% of anaesthetists were unwilling to reduce the patient waiting time in the induction room because they require it to prepare the patient adequately. Point of care temperature control may be useful. The patients can be kept warm and comfortable before and after surgery. The OT temperatures can be reduced during surgery once the patient is adequately draped. This will reduce the heat loss from the patients while keeping the surgeons comfortable. Despite feeling cold, 93.5% patients found the cold tolerable. 80.4% did not experience shivering and 84.8% were not uncomfortable. However, 71.7% would rather have a higher OT temperature if they were given a choice.

Conclusion(s): In conclusion, perioperative hypothermia (body temperature <36.0°C) occurs frequently in a cold ambient OT temperature. Majority of patients feel that the OT is cold and that further measures can be taken to improve their comfort. Point of care temperature control may be able to keep patients and healthcare workers comfortable.

© 2005 European Society of Anaesthesiology