Blanket Warmers, What Is Safe?

Accreditation Monthly, October 21, 2009

When completing readiness assessments, I have noticed much disparity in the temperature of blanket warmers from hospital to hospital and from warmer to warmer in the same hospital. I have also noticed that staff members cannot speak to the "safe" temperature range, and often, the safe range or upper limit is not posted, nor is there a policy readily available.

Safe temperature ranges for blanket and fluid warmers are most commonly published by ECRI Institute, and until recently, it set the "safe" temperature limit for blanket warmers at 110°F (43°C). This temperature was recommended because solutions were often warmed in the same cabinets as blankets, and the lower temperature eliminated the serious burn risk presented by excessively heated solutions.¹ This year, ECRI revised the recommended temperature for blanket warmers to 130°F (54°C).

Manufacturers vary in their temperature recommendations and often do not agree with ECRI.

Organizations should engage in a thoughtful process that includes research of recommended temperatures. Research can include a Web search, as well as manufacturer recommendations. The organization should then develop a policy for blanket warmer and fluid temperatures that will be used throughout the organization regardless of the manufacturer. Be sure to post the temperature range on all blanket warmers and instruct staff members on the procedure.

¹Health Devices, July 2009

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