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Nursing and medical staff knowledge regarding the monitoring and management of accidental or exposure hypothermia in adult major trauma patients

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Abstract:

Ireland S, Murdoch K, Ormrod P, Saliba E, Endacott R, Fitzgerald M, Cameron P. International Journal of Nursing Practice 2006; 12: 308–318

Nursing and medical staff knowledge regarding the monitoring and management of accidental or exposure hypothermia in adult major trauma patients

Recording a patient’s vital signs is a basic requirement that in part informs clinical decision-making. Practice suggests that recording a trauma patient’s temperature is occasionally overlooked in the emergency department. A staff survey was undertaken to gain an appreciation of knowledge and understanding of the issues that surround accidental or exposure hypothermia in trauma patients. Results demonstrate that nurses and doctors are unsure of how to define hypothermia and are not conversant with simple ways to prevent heat loss or rewarm patients. Complications from hypothermia such as coagulopathy and metabolic acidosis were seldom identified. Issues that limit staff recording temperature include patient access and acuity, lack of knowledge and confidence and access to temperature-measuring devices. These results emphasize the need for regular education. Implications for clinical practice were considered; an algorithm to guide staff on ways to improve the monitoring and management of temperature in trauma patients was developed. Opportunities for ongoing and further research were identified.

Keywords: body temperature; continuing education; emergency medical services; hypothermia; multiple trauma

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1440-172X.2006.00589.x

Affiliations: 1: Clinical Nurse Specialist, Emergency and Trauma Centre, The Alfred, Bayside Health, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia 2: Clinical Nurse Educator, Emergency and Trauma Centre, The Alfred, Bayside Health, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia 3: Associate Charge Nurse, Emergency and Trauma Centre, The Alfred, Bayside Health, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia 4: Professor of Clinical Nursing, School of Nursing and Midwifery, La Trobe University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia and Professor of Critical Care Nursing, University of Plymouth, Plymouth, UK 5: Director, Emergency and Trauma Centre, The Alfred, Bayside Health, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia 6: Director of Research, Emergency and Trauma Centre, The Alfred, Bayside Health, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Publication date: 2006-12-01

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