Adoption of the use of a reflective blanket for passive re-warming of the stable mildly hypothermic patient to reduce unnecessary ICU admissions: A pilot study

Elizabeth Bonnet, William L. Fuller, Sandra Rogers


Background and objective: In adult inpatients, thermoregulation is important to support vital functions.  Occasionally, due to procedures or benign clinical conditions, such as hypoglycemia, autonomic instability, brain injury, paraplegia, autonomic dysreflexia, and septic shock,  patients’ body temperature falls below 35°C and thus, requires intervention.  Due to the floor nursing constraints of hourly monitoring of forced air re-warming, these active warming techniques often lead to clinically unnecessary admissions to intensive care units and utilization of scarce and costly resources.   The purpose of this pilot study was to explore passive re-warming with alternative technologies to avoid unnecessary admissions to the intensive care unit.

Methods: A pilot study based on a sample of seventeen patients was conducted to assess the adoption and associated outcome of the use of the reflective blanket. Intervention: Application of a reflective blanket to patients who were mildly hypothermic, yet clinically stable, was explored as an effective mechanism to re-warm these patients in the non-intensive care unit setting.      

Results: The investigation based on the use of a reflective blanket on a sample of seventeen hypothermic patients had a success rate of 0.7059 (70.59%).

Conclusions: We conclude that the use of a reflective blanket is an effective and safe passive rewarming mechanism that leads to avoidance of unnecessary intensive care unit admissions.  This leads to both cost reductions to patients and appropriate use of ICU resources.

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Journal of Nursing Education and Practice

ISSN 1925-4040 (Print)   ISSN 1925-4059 (Online)

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