Thermosuit Technology Improves Emergency Room
During an emergency, time equals heart and brain function. In order to save both, Charlotte Hungerford Hospital has instituted a new treatment option to cool down patients after cardiac arrest that will help improve patient outcomes.
The ThermoSuit,® a water circulating system that lowers a patient’s inner core temperature, is being used in the hospital’s emergency department in the hopes of stemming brain damage resulting from the loss of blood flow and oxygen to the brain after a heart attack.
“The brain can only go without oxygen for a very short period of time. When brain cells are deprived of oxygen they begin to panic and release chemicals which initiate a cascade of events leading to their death,” said Heidi Aleman, MSNc, R.N., Charlotte Hungerford Hospital Clinical Educator.
Research has shown that once a patient has been resuscitated, lowering the body temperature to about 91 degrees will slow down metabolism, reduce inflammation and halt the demise of brain cells. This will make a significant impact in the neurological recovery and quality of life after a patient suffers cardiac arrest. The ThermoSuit is the fastest body surface cooling method available today.
Use of the ThermoSuit is a team effort, with up to six staff members including physicians, nurses and technicians working together to complete the 30- to 40-minute cooling process. Once the therapy is completed, the patient is removed from the suit and prepared to be transported by the Lifestar emergency transport helicopter service to Hartford Hospital for additional treatment. The patient’s body stays cool for hours after removal of the ThermoSuit and is gradually warmed after 12 to 24 hours.
“This treatment can be one of the first critical steps taken at Charlotte for patients resuscitated after cardiac arrest,” said Aleman. “It is an important element in our coordination of care with Hartford Hospital.” The ThermoSuit, manufactured by Life Recovery Systems of New Jersey, resembles an inflatable bathtub that cools patients with a continuous flow of ice water that circulates directly over the skin. The continuous flow of water circulates through a cradle-like suit that the patient is placed in and draws heat away from the body.
ThermoSuit technology senses when the patient’s body reaches the desired temperature and signals to the caregivers to move to the next phase of treatment. Once the patient reaches the target temperature, the water is drawn off the patient, and the ThermoSuit is discarded. The cooling system is used each time the process is undertaken. The suit is portable and is used on a conventional gurney, and the patient is full accessible to caregivers during the cooling process.
The hospital staff has performed several clinical training sessions with the ThermoSuit and plans to conduct regular drills to practice reducing the time it takes to prepare the equipment for treatment. A portion of the proceeds from the Charlotte Hungerford Hospital 2012 annual appeal, which kicks off in April, will be used to support this new therapy.
The Charlotte Hungerford Hospital is a 109-bed, general acute care hospital located in Torrington, Connecticut, that serves as a regional health care resource for 100,000 residents of Litchfield County and Northwest Connecticut. CHH offers personalized attention from an expert team of caregivers and physicians that utilize advanced technology and clinical partnerships in a convenient, safe and comfortable patient environment. One-Thousand Employees, One Job, Your Health. Visit www.charlottehungertford.org for information