When a critically ill patient's body temperature deviates from the normal range, the clinical implications can be significant. Fortunately, with the help of innovative equipment, healthcare professionals can manage and even manipulate the body temperatures of ICU patients with ease.
Disruptions in Thermoregulation are Common in the ICU
Disruptions in thermoregulation are common among patients in the ICU. In some cases, these disruptions may occur as part of a disease process. In other cases, the disruption may be a response to an administered treatment. For example, while infections and certain inflammatory processes can cause hyperthermia; blood loss and surgery can lead to hypothermia.
Deviations from the normal body temperature can be dangerous for any patient. When a patient's temperature rises too far above normal, for example, he or she may be at risk of seizures, brain damage and other complications. Likewise, a patient whose temperature falls too far below normal may be at risk of various other issues, including heart problems and hypoxia. Lower than normal body temperatures during and after surgery have also been linked to an increased risk of surgical complications, including infection of the surgical site. Because patients in the ICU are already critically ill, the risk of complications for these patients is often higher than for patients in other units. In addition, complications may be more severe when they occur because the patient is already in a weakened state.
Some Disruptions in Thermoregulation can be Therapeutic
Although extreme deviations from normal body temperature can put patients at risk, some deviations can be therapeutic. For example, when a patient with an infection develops a fever, the increase in body temperature can serve as a defense mechanism against the pathogen causing the infection. In addition, research has shown that inducing body temperatures that deviate from normal can be therapeutic for critically ill patients in some circumstances, such as following cardiac arrest.
Monitoring and Management of Patient Body Temperature is Essential
Because an ICU patient's body temperature plays such a critical role in determining his or her outcome, continuous monitoring of patient temperatures is essential in the Intensive Care Unit. In patients whose temperatures fall outside of the normal range, healthcare professionals should use temperature management tools to restore normal body temperature, such as heating or cooling blankets. When consistent with protocol, healthcare professionals should use these same tools to induce therapeutic temperature changes in ICU patients who may benefit from them.
Temperature Management Solutions
CSZ, A Gentherm Company, provides a full line of temperature management products that deliver value to your ICU patients without a compromise in service. For more information contact us on our website or call us at 1-800-989-7373.