NICE has published guidance supporting the use of a patient warming mattress from a Yorkshire company to prevent hypothermia during surgery.
The Medical Technologies Advisory Committee (MTAC) assessed the use of the Inditherm mattress (pictured) from Inditherm Medical, which is designed for use with patients having surgery involving an anaesthetic.
The evidence considered suggests that the device is as effective in maintaining a patient core body temperature above 36°C as forced air warming, which NICE continues to recommend.
MTAC also estimated that the Inditherm mattress offers the NHS an average annual cost saving of £9,800 compared with forced air warming (where heated air is blown into a specially designed blanket).
In addition, MTAC concludes, the Inditherm mattress may have further practical advantages: it is re-usable and can be cleaned in the same way as a normal operating table mattress, as well as minimising waste of energy.
Professor Carole Longson, Director of the NICE Centre for Health Technology Evaluation, said: “We are very pleased to publish guidance today advising that the Inditherm patient warming mattress should be considered for use in patients at risk of inadvertent hypothermia. The evidence examined indicates that as well as benefiting patients by reducing a range of serious complications associated with inadvertent hypothermia, it also benefits the NHS by saving money.”
Longson also noted that the new guidance did not supersede the recommendation of forced air warming – rather, it suggested “that when considering new investment in warming devices, consideration should be given to whether use of Inditherm would be beneficial with respect to local circumstances.”
NICE estimates that there are 2700 theatres in England not currently using any type of patient warming, of which 40% might be expected to purchase the Inditherm mattress.
Inditherm Medical is based in Rotherham.