Warm hospital gowns lowering hospital infection rates

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by JEAN ENERSEN / KING 5 News

NWCN.com

Posted on February 22, 2010 at 6:40 PM

Updated Friday, Jan 4 at 10:44 AM

When we think of hospital gowns, we think of the ones that don't close enough in the back. But there's a new type of gown that's helping lower hospital infection rates, and it uses - get this - hair dryer technology.

It's got the flexible hose with the lock and release system, and even the soft plastic lining that inflates to disperse the heat. But this isn't a soft bonnet hair dryer - it's the Bair Paws System.

"It's wonderful. It doesn't get too, too hot," said Edith Brown, surgical patient. "It stays about the same temperature, but if you want you can turn it up this is part of it here."

Brown, 82, was put in one the minute she arrived for recent vascular surgery. The goal is to keep a patient's body temperature at 97 degrees, from pre-op to post-op.

"Our infection rates have definitely gone down over the past year," said Ora Wood, surgical services director.

Studies show patients have a lower risk of heart attack after surgery, spend less in the ICU and get released from the hospital sooner. Not only are patients more relaxed then they used to be, so are their arteries.

"When they're cold, their blood vessels will constrict and when that happens it actually causes the tissues to get harder and less pliable or receptive to the antibiotics," said Wood.

The cost is about $10, which is comparable to what the hospital used to spend on laundering blankets.

"You blow up a balloon, that's the way it goes until it gets high enough and it stops, but it's wonderful," said Brown. "Oh, girl, wish I could have invented it. I'd be rich!"

But as she's wheeled into surgery wearing her Bair Paws, Edith Brown will settle for getting back on her feet as soon as possible.  The company will be demonstrating its product at a nurses' convention in Seattle this summer.

Click here for more information about the Bair Paws hospital gowns.

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