The Bair Hugger system is the most used and studied method of surgical warming in the country, with its clinical benefits, efficacy and safety well documented in more than 170 studies and more than 60 randomized controlled clinical trials.
In fact, the Bair Hugger system is the preferred patient warming device of U.S. healthcare facilities (and 8 of the top 10 orthopedic hospitals1) and is supported by numerous healthcare organizations because of its proven safety and effectiveness. Bair Hugger therapy is the original forced-air warming system, and has become an indispensable component in the care of surgical patients, providing safe and effective warming therapy to patients across the globe.
The surgical draping process starts by sealing the 3M™ Bair Hugger™ warming blanket to the patient’s chest with an adhesive strip. Any excess air is exhausted near the patient’s neck and shoulders and behind that surgical drape. Despite these and other safeguards, surgical site infections do occur for a variety of reasons. However, the Bair Hugger warming blanket is not the cause.
3M™ Bair Hugger™ Patient Warming System: Operating Room Airflow Visualization study shows that Bair Hugger warming did not disrupt operating room airflow and did not move air from the floor to the surgical field.
This video presents the findings of a study that shows the Bair Hugger Warming System did not disrupt clean operating room airflow patterns. By using a megasonic fog generator, researchers John P. Abraham, Ph.D., Professor of Thermal Sciences at the University of St. Thomas, and Jennifer A. Wagner, Ph.D., Prism Environmental Health and Safety Solutions, visualized operating room airflow patterns during a simulated hip replacement surgery both with and without warming from the Bair Hugger system. The megasonic fog generator emitted visible water vapor, which rode the airflow currents, thereby permitting visualization of the operating room airflow patterns. The downward flow of clean air - a common operating room feature - worked both with and without heat from the Bair Hugger warming system. In other words, the airflow patterns in the operating room looked the same both with and without heat from the Bair Hugger warming system. These findings confirm the results of a separate computational fluid dynamics study performed by Dr. Abraham, which is shown in a separate video. Both studies rebut claims from a competitor and a group of plaintiff attorneys that the warming system causes or increases the risk of surgical site infections by disrupting clean operating room airflow. Rather, in both studies, the Bair Hugger Patient Warming System did not disrupt clean operating room airflow and did not move air from the floor to the surgical site.
3M™ Bair Hugger™ Patient Warming System: Computational Fluid Dynamics study shows that Bair Hugger warming did not disrupt operating room airflow or move air from floor to surgical field.
This video presents the findings of a scientific research project that shows the Bair Hugger Patient Warming System did not disrupt clean operating room airflow during a simulated hip replacement procedure. Using advanced mathematical calculations based upon the fundamental laws of physics, John P. Abraham, Ph.D., Professor of Thermal Sciences at the University of St. Thomas, found that air emerging from the Bair Hugger system did not disrupt the downward, clean operating room airflow that originates in the operating room ceiling, and did not move air from the floor to the surgical site. Dr. Abraham's findings are confirmed by a separate operating room airflow visualization study, which is shown in a separate video. Both studies rebut claims from a competitor and a group of plaintiff attorneys that the warming system causes or increases the risk of surgical site infections by disrupting clean operating room airflow. Rather, in both studies, the Bair Hugger Patient Warming System did not disrupt clean operating room airflow and did not move air from the floor to the surgical site.
Keeping patients warm throughout the perioperative process is integral to providing optimal clinical care and patient comfort. A meta-analysis of 18 published studies demonstrates that maintaining normothermia in some general types of surgeries may improve patient outcomes and reduce cost.2 With one simple step, you can make a big difference.
The choice of warming method depends on the type and length of surgery, as not all warming modalities are effective at warming patients throughout the entire perioperative process.
When evaluating a forced-air warming system, it is important to evaluate available clinical research while also considering product-specific features like delivering consistent, even patient warming; ensuring optimized airflow through air channels; and offering useful features like head drapes, tie strips or drainage holes for managing fluids. These attributes can help streamline the surgical experience for clinicians.
Bair HuggerTM therapy is a trusted, effective method for warming surgical patients and an important component of high quality patient care. The world was introduced to forced-air warming technology in 1987 with the launch of the Bair Hugger system, which has since safely warmed more than 200 million patients across the globe.
U.S. News & World Report recently released its list of the top-50 U.S. orthopedic hospitals and 8 of the top 10 orthopedic hospitals1 currently warm their surgical patients with Bair Hugger warming products.
Some manufacturers of conductive warming technologies have suggested that Bair Hugger therapy may increase the risk of wound infection or operating room contamination. In fact, research shows the opposite.
When tested in actual surgical conditions, research shows that forced-air warming does not increase the bacterial count at the surgical site.2-4 Tests also have demonstrated that airflow from the Bair Hugger system has no significant effect on operating room airflow.5-7 Additional research has shown there is no disruption of laminar airflow tied to the use of forced-air warmers.7,8
1U.S. News & World Report, Best Hospitals 2015-16.
2 Zink RS, Iaizzo PA. Conductive warming therapy does not increase the risk of wound contamination in the operating room. Anesth Analg 1993;76:50-3.
3 Huang JK, Shah EF, Vinodkumar N, Hegarty MA, Greatorex RA. The Bair Hugger patient warming system in prolonged vascular surgery: an infection risk? Crit Care 2003;7:R13–R16.
4 Moretti B, Larocca AM, et al. Active warming systems to maintain perioperative normothermia in hip replacement surgery: a therapeutic aid or a vector of infection? J Hospital Infect 2009; 73:58–63.
5 Sharp RJ, et al. Do warming blankets increase bacterial counts in the operating field in a laminar-flow theatre? J Bone Joint Surg Br 2002; 84-B:486-8.
6 Memarzadeh F, Active warming systems to maintain perioperative normothermia in hip replacement surgery. J Hosp Infect. 2010; doi:10.1016/j.jhin.2010.02.006.
7 Sessler DI, Olmsted RN, Kuelpmann R. Forced-Air Warming Does Not Worsen Air Quality in Laminar Flow Operating Rooms. Anesth Analg.113 (6): 1416-1421. 2011
8 Olmsted RN, Kulpmann R, Schlautmann B. Effect of Forced-Air Warming on Operating Theatre Air Quality: assessment using submicron particle release, Hospital Infection Society, 2010.
Normothermia’s relationship to surgical site infections (SSIs) has garnered special attention in recent years, with numerous evidence-based initiatives, like SCIP-Inf-10, citing normothermia maintenance as a tool in SSI reduction efforts. Maintaining normothermia is one of the easiest, least expensive and most effective benefits you can offer to patients.
An editorial published in Anesthesia and Analgesia stated that, “Maintaining normothermia is usually easy… furthermore, the most commonly used warming systems are remarkably safe. There are few, if any, anesthetic interventions that have been proven to so markedly improve the outcome of surgery with so little effort, risk and cost…”1
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention specifically recommends the use of disposable products for patients with known or suspected infections requiring contact precautions.23M™ Bair Hugger™ blankets and 3M™ Bair Paws™ gowns are single-use only, helping avoid the risk of cross contamination, as may be possible with reusable patient warming devices.
Managing optimum patient care in a restricted-budget environment is an increasingly pressing challenge in healthcare. As you are asked to do more with less while ensuring patients receive exceptional care, make sure you pursue smart investments that will benefit your facility for years to come.
A host of national healthcare initiatives designed to reduce costs and accelerate improvements in the quality of care and safety are placing hospitals under a microscope. This increased visibility into hospital quality, patient satisfaction and cost-effectiveness – or the overall value they provide – is forcing facilities to re-think how they operate. By taking the simple step of utilizing forced-air warming technology, facilities may prevent hypothermia in their surgical patients and avoid the dangerous and costly complications of hypothermia.
1 U.S. News & World Report, Best Hospitals 2015-16.
Since 1987, Bair HuggerTM therapy has been the gold standard for managing perioperative normothermia in surgical patients worldwide.1-4 Professional organizations such as the Association of periOperative Registered Nurses (AORN), the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) and the American Society of Peri-Anesthesia Nurses (ASPAN), all note the important role of normothermia maintenance in SSI reduction—as do national quality initiatives including those developed by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) and the Surgical Care Improvement Project (SCIP). Several of these organizations and initiatives specifically name forced-air warming as a key means of maintaining normothermia.
The more you know about the problems associated with unintended hypothermia and the ways to maintain normothermia, the better able you will be to ensure optimal outcomes for your patients. Visit this site often for current information and news on Bair HuggerTM therapy.
What types of warming options are available on the marketplace?
From warmed cotton blankets to forced-air warming blankets, a wide array of methods with varying degrees of effectiveness are available to help prevent unintended hypothermia. Active warming modalities include forced-air warming, conductive warming, warm-water garments and resistive warming.
How should I choose the best warming modality for my facility?
Ultimately, it comes down to a question of what technology will best position the hospital to warm every surgical patient, achieve the guideline goal of perioperative normothermia and even improve patient satisfaction – all in a cost-effective way.
In order to decide which warming modality is the best fit for a particular facility, there are several key considerations to keep in mind, including:
How is patient satisfaction linked to the financial strength of my facility?
Patient satisfaction and the entire care experience are increasingly emphasized in consumer-directed healthcare plans and pay-for-performance reimbursement arrangements. A positive patient experience can become a distinct competitive advantage for a healthcare facility. Research conducted by Press Ganey show a direct correlation between patient satisfaction scores and financial strength. The findings revealed that the higher the patient satisfaction score, the more profitable the hospital.1 High patient satisfaction can set a hospital apart from competition, driving traffic and feeding the revenue stream.
Clearly patient satisfaction is a potent mechanism for increasing and sustaining market share and the bottom line.2 Working to improve patient satisfaction more than pays for itself, 4which is another great reason to keep patients healthy, and therefore happy.
We welcome your questions
We know forced-air warming. We created the category. It’s at the core of who we are and what we do. We have seen the benefits of Bair HuggerTM therapy at work for more than 28 years—and more importantly, clinicians across the globe have witnessed the contributions the Bair Hugger system makes to patient care. We have absolute confidence in the safety and efficacy of our products, as will anyone who has the complete story.
Questions? Please contact Bair Hugger Customer Service at 1-800-228-3957.
3M Bair Hugger therapy
3M Infection Prevention Division
3M Center, 275-4E-01
St. Paul, MN 55144