Volume 10, No. 4 • Winter 1995

Cold OR’s Make for Cool Patients Reader Seeks Ideas, Warm Responses

William J. Orlowsky, CRNA, APRN

To the Editor

I am asking your readers’ input about the potential dangers associated with cold operating room suites. This appears to be a growing problem throughout the United States. During round table discussions with various anesthesia personnel, the “Cold Rooms” seem to be of concern.

As we all know, “A cold heart is an irritable heart” and core temperatures below 94 F start to present problems associated with good quality anesthesia care. In my institution the cavalier attitude of the OR staff is evident. Their main concern is their own comfort. Circulating nurses and scrub techs will bait the surgeons about how warm it is in the OR with complete disregard for the patient. The result – lowering the room temperature to 62 F and the battle begins.

Anesthesia personnel are supposed to be advocates for the “cold” patient. During a routine general anesthetic, out comes the Bair Hugger, fluid warmers, and the HME’s. Do they work? Also, we can’t forget the piles of warm blankets that are brought into the OR by the nurses. To educate and convince OR personnel about the potential problems that could happen results in a fruitless “I can’t hear you!”

In my institution, my Chief of Anesthesia has issued a policy that states a temperature of 68 F with a relative humidity of 50%. This was agreed to by the Director of the OR. However, the locks on the temperature control areas were removed and the aforementioned results were had. We are now hoping to install these locks and have them controlled with one key, handled only by anesthesia personnel.

I would appreciate any comments from your readers.

William J. Orlowsky, CRNA, APRN Griffin Hospital Derby, CT