Accidental Hypothermia: An Evidence-Based Approach (Trauma CME)

Home > Browse Topics

Accidental Hypothermia: An Evidence-Based Approach (Trauma CME)

January 2009


From Florida to Alaska, hypothermia is prevalent in every emergency department (ED) regardless of location or time of year. In the United States, there are more than 650 deaths per year from primary hypothermia with 66% of the deaths occurring in men. Beyond that, there are an unknown number of deaths where hypothermia is a secondary or contributing cause.1

Hypothermia occurs in a wide variety of environmental settings and is complicated by multiple patient co-morbidities. It does not have to be a subzero night in Wyoming to encounter severely hypothermic patients. The homeless, intoxicated patient in Miami is also at risk for accidental hypothermia. The states with the highest hypothermia-related death rates are those with milder climates that experience rapid temperature changes (eg, North Carolina and South Carolina) and western states that have high elevations and considerable changes in nighttime temperatures.2

The best strategy to manage the hypothermic patient must be individually tailored and varies depending on the resources available. However, there are basic principles that apply to all hypothermic patients. Some hypothermic patients can make seemingly miraculous recoveries and must be treated very differently than their normothermic counterparts. The adage that "a person is not dead until he is warm and dead" is corroborated by the fact that the lowest initial temperature recorded in a child who survived from hypothermia was 14.2°C (57.6°F),3 and the lowest recorded temperature in an adult was 13.7°C (56.7°F).4

This issue of Emergency Medicine Practice reviews the evidence and current understanding of the pathophysiology, clinical assessment, and treatment options for maximizing outcomes in accidental hypothermia.
Table Of Contents:

Trusted for more than 18 years, Emergency Medicine Practice is the only MEDLINE-indexed journal dedicated exclusively to the practical application of the evidence in emergency medicine. Our authors, peer reviewers, and editorial board of practicing emergency medicine physicians distill all of the evidence on a given topic into concise, relevant, and effective recommendations for your clinical practice. Topics like cardiovascular emergencies, trauma, emergency procedures, airway, toxicologic emergencies, neurologic emergencies, and more are covered in our monthly journal issues.

Your subscription includes:

  • New print and online issues of Emergency Medicine Practice
  • Over 200 archived issues on our mobile-optimized website
  • Points & Pearls supplement (a two-page digest of each issue)
  • EMplify podcast, including the must-know points from the issue
  • Calculated Decisions supplement (powered by MDCalc)
  • 48 CME credits from upcoming issues
  • 144 CME credits from archived issues, including trauma CME, stroke CME, and more

Subscribe today to get access to this issue and more!

To view this issue, please choose one of the options below:

Purchase a
Emergency Medicine Practice
Sign up for a free trial
Free 48-hour trial
Emergency Medicine Practice

2018 LLSA Prep Study Guides, 35 CME Credits

About EB Medicine:
Accredited By:
Endorsed By:
HONcode HONcode


Last Modified: 11/16/2018
© EB Medicine