In almost all hospitals that provide pediatric care services, an infant warmer is a very commonly used equipment that is used to maintain body temperature of infants. Since the newborns are prone to developing hypothermia, this equipment is used to provide thermal support to children. Infant warmers are not only used in the pediatric care units, but they also used in delivery rooms, where newborns experience their initial moments of life. Additionally, infants that require prolonged nursing care in a comparatively cool environment may also benefit from infant warmers.
Purchasing a suitable infant warmer can be a challenge and in the following lines, I will share my experience of buying an infant warmer for a healthcare setup. Infant warmers manufactured by a number of companies are available in the medical equipment market and for this reason, it is often quiet difficult to make a decision regarding its purchase. In my opinion, however, certain basic features should be checked, and if they are available in a unit, it may be considered for purchase.
My first concern was to ascertain the ability of warming units to maintain body temperature of infants. In this regard, it is important to understand that different warming units come with different functional options. First, the unit may be manual or automatic. Whether manual or automatic, a good unit should provide a display of essential parameters like power status (On or Off), Skin temperature of infant, Timers (providing information about warming cycles) and about the Working status of heaters (energized or otherwise). The unit should provide control of temperatures that fall between 34-37 degrees Celsius. The air circulating within a warming unit is in essence the air that comes in contact with the skin of infant; hence, the unit should be able to prevent heating of internal air beyond 39 degrees Celsius.
While manual units come with automatic timers that can be set by users to allow the unit to function at a fixed temperature for a user-defined period of time, the automatic infant warmers utilize skin temperature sensors to get information about infant’s body temperature. This information is then used by the unit to switch the heating apparatus “off” or “on”; depending upon infant’s body temperature. My last concern regarding infant warmer’s temperature control was the ability of the unit to prevent sudden or broad body temperature changes; such changes can be detrimental to infant’s well being. Based on these parameters, I was able to shortlist the infant warmers that I wanted to buy.
Once the seller satisfied me about the above-mentioned concerns, I proceeded to look for other important features. It is important to check whether the components of warming units that are located just above the bassinet are adequately protected; the presence of a grill is essential to protect the infant, in case a component falls onto the infant. Such protection was present in all infant warmers that I had shortlisted earlier.
My next concern was shelf-space that is frequently required when working with infants in warming units. Infant warmers should have adequate shelf-space built as part of their body. This is essential to prevent the working staff from placing objects on top of warmer units; a practice that can cause fires, since heat exhaust from vents may heat such objects excessively.
Another important thing is the durability of the warming units to endure pressure or weight that is applied by the working staff during performance of procedures on infants. Infant warmers should be able to cope with such stresses.
Lastly, I checked the warming units for channels that allow passage of chest drainage tubes, cables, ECG leads etc. Such channels are necessary to prevent leads or tubes from getting displaced or entangled. The units that I was considering for purchase contained these channels and hence they were suitable for my purpose.
Nowadays, many modern infant warming units come with additional features that are not essential, but their presence provides a high degree of convenience. One of the units that I considered for purchase contained an X-ray cassette holder and Phototherapy lights. However, the price tag of this unit was comparably higher than the other units. Hence, I opted to select another unit that contained nearly all the essential features that I discussed earlier, but was low-priced, yet had a solid built.