Hospitals Turn to a Surprising Tool to Protect, Satisfy Patients

Hospital Gown Helps Meet Government Initiative

MINNEAPOLIS--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Each year, approximately 34 million Americans undergo surgery. Millions undoubtedly associate being cold as part of their surgical experience. The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) says that’s not okay, but for important reasons beyond patient comfort.

The Bair Paws(R) gown improves patient satisfaction by keeping patients warm, cozy and covered. (Pho ...

The Bair Paws(R) gown improves patient satisfaction by keeping patients warm, cozy and covered. (Photo: Arizant Healthcare Inc.)

Inadvertent hypothermia—a condition where a surgical patient’s core temperature drops below the normal range—can lead to dangerous and costly complications such as increased rates of wound infection, longer hospital stay and even increased mortality rates. Despite these issues, it has been estimated that 50 percent or more of surgical patients are hypothermic on admission to recovery.

CMS has implemented a patient temperature management quality initiative, SCIP-Infection-10, intended to prevent surgical hypothermia and its serious complications, including surgical site infections (SSIs). SSIs carry a heavy financial burden, costing U.S. hospitals approximately $7 billion annually. This initiative applies to all surgical patients, regardless of age, undergoing anesthesia for an hour or longer, stating that they should receive active warming* intraoperatively or achieve 36°C (96.8°F) or above measured 30 minutes before or 15 minutes immediately after anesthesia end time.

The bottom line: Millions more surgical patients will likely be warmed each year. Interestingly, one tool in this massive effort comes in the form of a greatly enhanced version of one of the most universally disliked items in health care – the long-maligned, flimsy hospital gown.

Helping fight infection

Warming surgical patients has become an area of focus for healthcare organizations worldwide. Many national and international healthcare improvement initiatives have recognized normothermia maintenance —or keeping the body as close to normal temperature as possible —as one tool that can be effective in the prevention of deadly and unnecessary surgical site infections, the second-most common hospital-acquired infection (HAI) carrying the largest societal cost. The annual direct medical costs of HAIs in the U.S. alone can be as high as $45 billion, as they remain one of the top 10 causes of death in the U.S., responsible for nearly 100,000 deaths a year – more than mortality from AIDS, breast cancer and auto accidents combined.

The Bair Paws® system, a “high-tech” gown-based system, not only eliminates common patient complaints about feeling exposed or cold, but also helps achieve better surgical outcomes like maintaining normothermia in the process. Maintaining normothermia helps prevent the estimated $2,500 – $7,000 per patient costs associated with the complications of inadvertent hypothermia.

This system includes a single-use patient gown and a small warming unit that sends a gentle stream of warm air into the gown through specially-designed air channels. A handheld controller connected to the warming unit allows patients to adjust the temperature as needed. The same gown remains with the patient as they move to the operating room, where it connects to a more powerful warming unit used throughout the surgical procedure.

“The Bair Paws warming system helps us maintain the patient's core temperature at an optimal level, which is so important for best patient outcomes, including a reduction in the rate of surgical site infections,” said Carol Machemer, Patient Care Manager at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis. “Overall, it probably is one of the most meaningful comfort measures we can provide for a patient, and many patients have said how it makes them feel cared for above and beyond the usual hospital experience.”

The warming system helps hospitals comply with the new SCIP measure, while improving the overall surgical experience. In addition, it works to address patients’ main concerns of more modest coverage and increased comfort and warmth.

“Being warm is important for helping prevent unintended hypothermia, and we’ve had a tremendous response from surgical patients who enjoyed warmth from the Bair Paws gown in a situation that is notoriously chilly,” said Jami Collins, Bair Paws senior product manager. “A positive patient experience and outcome can become a distinct advantage for a healthcare facility, so it is imperative for hospitals looking to provide high value healthcare to focus on comprehensive solutions with proven results.”

The Bair Paws Flex warming system is one of the newest solutions available, offering a practical economic approach to standardizing multiple warming capabilities into one gown, making it easier for facilities to comply with national quality initiatives in an environment of limited financial resources.

For more information, fact sheets, video and images of the Bair Paws system, please visit

Arizant now part of 3M Infection Prevention Division

Arizant Healthcare Inc., headquartered in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, is the maker of surgical patient temperature management systems including Bair Hugger® therapy, the Bair Paws® system and Ranger® blood and fluid warming systems. The company, which was acquired by 3M as of October 13, 2010, created the category of forced-air warming – the preferred method of warming surgical patients in the U.S. Arizant designs, manufactures and markets medical devices that provide innovative, practical solutions to common medical problems. For more information, please visit

*Active warming included in the CMS measure is limited to forced-air warming, conductive warming, warm-water garments and resistive warming.

**For specific citations, please contact Arizant Healthcare at 952.947.1410.

Photos/Multimedia Gallery Available:


Arizant Healthcare Inc.
Greta Deutsch, 952-947-1410
[email protected]

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The Bair Paws(R) gown improves patient satisfaction by keeping patients warm, cozy and covered. (Photo: Arizant Healthcare Inc.)