Because of the devastating consequences of thermal imbalance, it is imperative that nurses understand these concepts and apply them to the daily care of their patients.
Heat loss, heat conservation, and heat generation interplay to maintain the narrow range that is considered optimal for human cellular function. These concepts factor into patients who are critically ill but are especially important for patients undergoing continuous renal replacement therapy. Many of these types of dialysis expose the individual patient’s blood to room temperature dialysate via an extracorporeal circuit 24-hours a day, sometimes for several weeks at a time. Critical care and advanced practice nurses must understand the interplay of the processes of heat loss, conservation, and heat generation to ensure patients undergoing this therapy achieve maximum benefit with the fewest complications possible.