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Insufficient evidence to link forced-air, SSI increase
Independent, nonprofit research organization publishes guidance following literature review: "does not believe that the currently available evidence justifies discontinuing the use of forced-air warming during surgery."
Independent Research Organization
"Forced-air is safe, effective, easy to use..."
“Before the development of forced-air warming, there was no good way to keep surgical patients warm. Forced-air is safe, effective, easy to use and inexpensive. It has thus become the most common way of keeping patients warm during surgery.”
Anesthesiologist Dr. Daniel Sessler
"I’m confident in the use of forced-air warming..."
“I’m confident in the use of forced-air warming blankets at my institution for patients undergoing total joint arthroplasty in laminar flow equipped ORs. Normothermia maintenance plays a critical role in minimizing complications following any surgery and should be exercised whenever possible.”
Dr. Javad Parvizi




About FAW


Surgical patient with Bair Paws warming gown in OR

Safe, Proven, Effective

  • Forced-air warming is a 28+ year proven technology you can trust.
  • 170+ published clinical studies involve the use of forced-air warming and document the clinical benefits of maintaining normal body temperature (normothermia) during surgery
  • 3M™ Bair Hugger™ therapy, the healthcare industry's first forced-air warming system, has safely and effectively warmed 200 million patients around the world, a number that increases by more than 50,000 patients each day.
  • Used in 80%+ of U.S. hospitals
  • Used to warm surgical patients in 8 out of the 10 of top orthopedic hospitals1
  • 1 U.S. News & World Report, Best Hospitals 2011-12


A proven, widely trusted practice

Since 1987, forced-air warming 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.

High-quality randomized trials show that maintaining normothermia may:5

  • Reduce surgical bleeding and the need for blood products
  • Reduce the risk of surgical wound infection
  • Decrease the risk of postoperative myocardial infarction (heart attack)
  • Shorten postoperative recovery and the duration of hospitalization
  • Improve patient comfort
  • Offer a potential savings of $2,500 to $7,000 per patient
  • 1 Hynson JM, Sessler DI. Intraoperative warming therapies: a comparison of three devices. J Clin Anesth 1992; 4:194-9.
  • 2 Kurz  A, Kurz M, Poeschl G, Faryniak B, Redl G, Hackl W. Forced-air warming maintains intraoperative normothermia better than circulating water mattress. Anesth Analg 1993;77:89-95.
  • 3 Borms SF, Englelen SL, Himpe DG, Suy MR, Theunissen WJ. Bair Hugger forced-air warming maintains normothermia more effectively than thermo-lite insulation. J Clin Anesth 1994;6:303–7.
  • 4 Brauer A, Pacholik L, Perl T, English MJ, Weyland W, Braun U. Conductive heat exchange with a gel-coated circulating water mattress. Anesth Analg 2004;99:1742–6.
  • 5 Mahoney, CB. Odom, J. Maintaining intraoperative normothermia: A meta-analysis of outcomes with costs. AANA Journal. 67(2): 155-164. 1999.

Research and References

Clearing the air about forced-air warming

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 forced-air warming.


Your forced-air warming questions…answered

Do convective and conductive warming methods have the same warming efficiency?

Research has shown 3M™ Bair Hugger™ therapy warms patients significantly better than conductive resistive electric-type blankets and mattresses1,2 In fact, one clinical trial showed that a Bair Hugger full body blanket rewarmed patients two times faster than a resistive electric full body blanket.1 In addition, one study found the Bair Hugger full access underbody blanket to be significantly better in reducing post-bypass temperature afterdrop than a resistive heating mattress.2

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:

  • Is it proven?
  • Is it safe?
  • Does it improve outcomes?
  • Does it increase patient satisfaction?
  • Does it help lower costs?
  • Is it easy to implement?
  • Will staff embrace it?

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.3 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.4 Working to improve patient satisfaction more than pays for itself, 4which is another great reason to keep patients healthy, and therefore happy.

  • 1 Plattner, O. et. al. Comparison of Forced-Air and a New Resistive Warming Device for Intraoperative Rewarming. ASA abstracts, 2010. A076.
  • 2 Engelen, S. et. al. A Comparison of Under-Body Forced-Air and Resistive Heating during Hypothermic Bypass. ASA abstracts, 2010. A075.
  • 3 Press Ganey & Associates. Return on Investment: Increasing Profitability by Improving Patient Satisfaction.
  • 4 Press I. Patient Satisfaction: Defining, measuring and improving the experience of care. Health Administration Press, Chicago, 2003.

Contact Us

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 forced-air warming at work for more than 28 years—and more importantly, clinicians across the globe have witnessed the contributions forced-air warming 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 Customer Service at 1-800-228-3957.

3M Patient Warming
3M Infection Prevention Division
3M Center, 275-4E-01
St. Paul, MN 55144

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