Patient warming

Risks and consequences of hypothermia

Hypothermia is a common but serious side effect of surgery, and can occur before, during and after surgery, leading to:

  • Increased risk of medical complications, including cardiac events and bleeding, with greater risk of morbidity1
  • Increased risk of surgical site infection1
  • Further treatment and prolonged hospital stays which means greater cost1
  • Increased discomfort and anxiety for patients1

The economic consequences of hypothermia

Patients with mild hypothermia have three times as many surgical site infections (SSI) as normothermic patients. When patients develop an SSI it can lead to both increased treatment costs and prolonged hospital stays. A conservative cost estimate per SSI is 2,391 GBP/2,650 EUR2.

With proper perioperative warming, SSIs can be reduced by 25-30 percent and potentially generate savings for a hospital2.


  1. Barash PG (ed). ASA Refresher Courses in Anesthesiology. 1993; 21: Ch 7.
  2. Inadvertent perioperative hypothermia. Costing report implementing NICE guidance. NICE clinical guideline 65.2008.


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