SP: What are some of the potential consequences
of overlooking the need to keep surgeons and staff
cool in the OR?
Bill Graessle, President, Polar Products: Surgeons and hospital staff
in the OR work under intense pressure in an environment that requires
extraordinary mental clarity, dexterity, and eye-hand coordination. They
must often wear gowns, lead aprons, and other gear. Add to that the
intense activity in the OR and AORN guidelines for OR room temperature and there is a very real danger of overheating of the OR staff.
Overheating can cause a variety of problems in any work environment,
and it is a well understood phenomenon. According to OSHA, if the
body cannot get rid of excess heat, it will store it. When this happens, the
body's core temperature rises and the person begins to lose concentration
and has difficulty focusing on a task. These problems can be particularly
dangerous in the OR. Keeping personnel cool helps to mitigate the risk of
overheating and resulting fatigue, loss of focus and concentration.
SP: What are some of the products out there that
are designed to deal keep OR staff cool?
Graessle: Personal cooling systems fall into two main categories:
• Active systems that circulate cooling liquid through a series of tubes
built into a vest. These systems require power and a source for the
• Passive systems that incorporate cooling components into the garment. These often take the form of phase change cooling packs. No
power or outside cooling source is required.
SP: What are the most
important characteristics your customers
look for in cooling
course the primary
a comfortable cooling temperature and
garment for an extended
period of time. Key to
delivering this includes:
• Ease of mobility
• Easy to use
• Adjustable cooling
• Light weight
• Easily maintained
How these various components
are delivered and the relative
importance and trade-offs
can often be a function
of personal preference.
For instance look at three
choices commonly used by
1. An active system vest may
weigh just one pound and
will last for six-plus hours
on a single reservoir charge.
This choice requires power,
a cooling liquid reservoir
and connecting tubes. Many
OR doctors find this to be the
2. A passive cooling vest provides total
mobility with no cords of tubes. These vests can
weigh four pounds and may require cooling inserts to be
replaced every three hours. Many OR personnel find this a good
3. Additional OR personnel may find a simple passive cooling neck band is
all that is required for their own personal cooling needs.
SP: Do the products out there on the market
today meet the needs and wants of customers and
potential customers? How do you expect these
products to evolve in the future?
Graessle: The products do an excellent job and with continued
investment in research and development the ever increasing demand
for lighter weight, increased portability, ease of use, and lower cost will
A leading manufacturer of body
cooling systems since 1984.
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