Some Like It Hot: Here’s Why Hospitals Also Need Heat


In episode 9 of the hit K-drama called Hospital Playlist, a montage showed the primary characters, all surgeons, doing their jobs. One distinct feature stood out, though. The clips also revealed the different temperatures for each surgical theater.

While most rooms were cold, one registered a temperature of 30 degrees Celsius—hot enough to cause one of the resident doctors to collapse.

The story is fictional, but the science isn’t. Contrary to popular belief, hospitals don’t settle for a chilly temperature at all times. Sometimes they need to crank it up. For this reason, maintaining a reliable HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning) system is essential.

Hot and Then Cold

If people describe hospitals as “cold,” they are not only talking figuratively. According to OSHA, the ideal temperature for these facilities is between 20 to 24.4 degrees Celsius. There are many reasons for this, such as:

1. Coldness Can Help Reduce the Spread and Growth of Bacteria

It’s not unusual for a patient to develop secondary infections, usually bacterial-related diseases, while in a healthcare facility. The CDC revealed that it could occur for every 1 in 31 patients. To stem the growth of bacteria, hospitals need to be cold.

2. Cold Temperatures Can Help Patients Recover Faster

When a person has a fever, their metabolic rate increases. It means that they are burning more glucose or calories and using more energy to help fight off the infection.

While it can be a good sign that the body is resisting the illness, high metabolic rates can also cause added pressure to vital organs such as the heart. The body also needs to learn to conserve energy to support other tissues.

However, in certain situations, the patient might benefit more from a higher temperature, which raises the significance of systems like a radiant gas heater.

In the K-drama episode, it was the pediatric surgeon who operated in hot temperatures because he was treating an infant. Babies cannot regulate temperatures well, and thus, they are more prone to heat loss or hypothermia. A person with hypothermia or significant heat loss is at a higher risk of organ failure as the heart or nervous system shuts down.

Hospitals also need to maintain the right humidity levels between 40% and 60% besides the ideal temperature. Otherwise, low levels can increase the risk of colds and viral infections.

Balancing between Cost and Patient Comfort and Care

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Although the goal is noble, hospitals often tread the thin line that separates fiscal management and patient care. Overhead costs alone could amount to billions. These healthcare facilities deal with it by improving service efficiency. It includes reducing hospital stay or increasing the use of technology to help decrease labor.

Still, hospitals face the pressure of delayed reimbursement and even federal state budget cuts. With HVAC, hospitals will spend a lot on air-conditioning or heating. However, with the right tech, they can also bring the costs down. For example, they can use radiant gas heaters.

Radiant gas heaters differ from the conventional ones since they use infrared heat. They provide a more centralized form of heating, which makes it ideal for zone or spot heating. They can also work well with insulation systems to make them more energy-efficient.

Hospitals need to balance heat and coldness for the sake of patient comfort and care, but utilities can also drive expenses. To help them in this area, they can explore new HVAC technologies that are more efficient and cost-friendly.

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