HotDog patient warming is an electric heating system used to keep patients at the optimal body temperature before, during, and after surgery. The warming system is made of a combination of warming blankets and mattresses from manufacturer Augustine Biomedical, LLC, a medical device company in Eden Prairie. Full-body, chest, and arm blankets are made of a lightweight, flexible, polymeric, conductive fabric called ThermAssure. The blankets and mattresses plug into a controller that provides precise temperature management, making patients comfortable and reducing the possibility of hypothermia and infection during surgery.
Nearly all patients become hypothermic at the start of surgery because anesthesia restricts the body’s ability to control its temperature, says Dr. Scott Augustine, CEO of Augustine Biomedical. Hypothermia is associated with higher rates of wound infections, blood loss, death, and increased intensive care unit and hospital stays, he says. Forced-air heating, where blankets are filled with hot air, is the standard way of keeping patients warm, but this method also creates waste heat that escapes underneath the surgical drape, mixes with dirty floor-level air, and then rises into the surgical field. (Floor-level air contains germs found on the sloughed skin cells of operating room staff.) Augustine says this is of particular concern in surgeries that require an ultra-clean environment, such as orthopedic implants. He cites one study that showed a 74 percent reduction in joint-replacement infection rates when a hospital switched from forced-air to air-free HotDog patient warming.
Augustine, who invented the forced-air method of patient warming 25 years ago, says that infection during joint-replacement surgeries is especially troublesome because once infected, the only solution is to remove the replacement joint so the patient can heal and then put a new joint back in—a painful, expensive process that can result in permanent disability. “Forced-air is going to have to be moved out of joint-replacement surgeries within the next couple of years,” he says.
Another positive aspect of HotDog: Since it’s reusable, it cuts down on waste. With forced-air warming blankets, close to 12 million pounds of plastic is disposed of per year throughout the world.