The Sweaty Surgeon

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The Sweaty Surgeon

With summer now in full swing, the temperature outside has risen to uncomfortable levels for many of us. However, one place we don’t expect to deal with excessive heat is in the operating room. Unfortunately, if your hospital is like mine, you may find yourself in a battle with anesthesia and nursing staff over the thermostat setting. Most frequently they will cite patient safety as a rationale for increased OR temperatures.

My colleagues and I recently reviewed the available literature on ambient OR temperature to see what evidence there was to support this claim. We found that there is no increased morbidity or mortality associated with adult trauma patients randomized to warm versus cold operating rooms, and that higher temperatures may actually be detrimental to patients. Warmer settings had higher levels of bacterial forming colonies on the sterile field and an increase in error rates.

So, if you find yourself battling over the thermostat in your OR, hopefully, you now have some talking points, especially in the context of patient safety. For a more detailed discussion on this topic, I encourage you to read the below article published in JBJS (WOA members may receive JBJS at a discounted rate).

Stay cool,

Logan Koehler, MD
William Beaumont Army Medical Center
El Paso, TX
[email protected]

Reference: Dunn JC, Kusnezov NA, Koehler LR, Orr JD. The Sweaty Surgeon: Raising Ambient Operating Room Temperature Benefits Neither Patient Nor Surgeon. J Bone Joint Surg. 2017;99(6):e27(1-3).


DISCLAIMER: Statements of fact and opinion are the responsibility of the authors alone and do not imply an opinion or endorsement on the part of the officers or the members of WOA unless such opinion or endorsement is specifically stated. Materials may be reproduced only if Touches and the Western Orthopaedic Association are credited.


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