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Cooling & Warming Blankets


It is not unusual for patients in the Intensive Care Unit to be very hot or very cold at times because of their disease process. In addition 'active cooling' may be used for a limited number of conditions where slowing a patient's metabolism and conserving oxygen is required. One treatment method seen in the Intensive Care Unit is the use of fan-forced hot or cold air blankets.

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Warming Unit

How Do They Work?

Warming blankets are used to help increase the body temperature of a hypothermic (very cold) patient. A warming blanket is placed over the patient and works by pumping warm air through channels in the blanket, which helps warm the surface area of the patient. Cooling blankets are used to help decrease the body temperature of a hyperthermic (very hot) patient. Some cooling blankets are placed underneath the patient, whilst others are placed over the patient. The blankets work by pumping cooled air or water through channels in the blanket, which helps cool the surface area of the patient.


Are There Any Complications?

All Intensive Care interventions and procedures carry a degree of potential risk even when performed by skilled and experienced staff. Please discuss these issues with the medical and nursing staff who are caring for the patient.


Any Further Concerns?

Of course, if you have any questions or concerns, please discuss them with the ICU nurses and doctors.

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The information contained on this page is general in nature and therefore cannot reflect individual patient variation. In addition, this information reflects Australian Intensive Care practice which may differ from that in other countries. It is meant as a back up to specific information which will be discussed with you by the doctors and Nurses caring for your loved one. ICCMU attests to the accuracy of the information contained here BUT takes no responsibility for how it may apply to an individual patient. Please refer to the full disclaimer.


Warming and Cooling Blankets Version 1.3
First published June 2004
Reviewed November 2011
Reviewer: Kay Johnson CNS  ICCMU

Last Updated on Tuesday, 08 November 2011 10:19