Recent articles in two leading Operating Room oriented publications have me reflecting on the role of temperature in the prevention of hospital acquired infections (HAI's). The May issue of Outpatient Surgery and the July issue of OR Today both have articles reviewing the role of hypothermia in the increase incidence of surgical site infections (SSI's). Outpatient Surgery reports "that a drop in average core body temperature of 1.9ÂºC could triple surgical site infection risks" and OR Today reveals that an SSI "can increase costs from roughly $1,400 to more than $3,000 per patient, and increase the hospital stay by an average of seven days...."
We also know how important temperature is in Sterile Processing. In Decontamination, AAMI ST79 recommends the ambient temperature be kept below 65 degrees Farenheit. This is because personnel need to gown in personal protective wear for safety. In sterile storage areas, the temperature and humidity is critical for proper long term storage of sterile packages. In the May issue of Outpatient Surgery, another article reviews the critical role of proper water temperature in cleaning and, of course, thermal disinfection of surgical instruments.