Queensland University of Technology (QUT) researchers are trialling new care strategies that reduce postoperative risk to patients from loss of body heat during surgery.
Chief Investigator, Dr Judy Munday, from the QUT School of Nursing, said perioperative hypothermia – body heat loss to below 36°C – was inevitable in surgeries unless preventative strategies were used.
About 1.2 million Australian patients were at risk of perioperative hypothermia each year, at an estimated cost of $1.2 billion to the healthcare system, she said.
“This is the first large-scale implementation trial of hypothermia prevention during surgery in Australia,” Dr Munday said.
“Perioperative hypothermia prevention will improve patient experience and surgical outcomes, with economic benefits for Australian hospital care.
“Hypothermia during surgery is a risk factor for wound infection, increased blood loss, longer hospital stays, patient discomfort and poor surgical experiences.”
The project is being undertaken thanks to a $1,145,483 grant from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).
Over three-years across nine hospitals, researchers will trial new care strategies implemented with healthcare providers that aim to prevent perioperative hypothermia and improve patient outcomes.
Project partners include the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care, Metro South Hospital and Health Service, South Metropolitan Health Service, Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service, Mater Health Services, Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, Ipswich Hospital, and the Gold Coast University Hospital.