Background: The use of convective air warming and/or cooling for the prevention of hypothermia or to induce hypothermia is growing rapidly. To date, there is no information available as to the potential risks for infection associated with either the postsurgical reuse or the repositioning of coverlets closer to the wound. We hypothesized that use of coverlets either intra- or postoperatively leads to increased contamination. Methods: The bacterial contamination of commercially available coverlets before (control group, n = 10) and after patient application (n = 18) was investigated. From 3 predetermined sites, 1 cm x 2 cm pieces of coverlet were removed and analyzed for bacterial contamination. Results: Even prior to use, coverlet samplings provided identifiable contamination (3 out of 30 sites, 10%), but this could be within our study's sampling error. Nevertheless, following clinical use the frequency of contamination was considerably increased; 17 out of 57 sampled sites (31.5%) elicited contamination (P < 0.05, Fisher's exact test). Conclusion: This study demonstrates that the use of the coverlets, intra- or postoperatively, can lead to significant bacterial contamination. It is concluded that it is not advisable to reuse coverlets for multiple clinical applications.
- Bacteria: alpha hemolytic streptococcus, staphylococcus, bacillus, micrococcus, corynebacterium, neisseria, enterococcus, gram negative bacilli
- Coverlets: reuse, wound infection risk, blankets, convective warming/cooling
- Infection: postoperative, wound