Accidental hypothermia is an involuntary drop in core body temperature below 35°C (normal core body temperature is 37°C). Although a significant number of deaths related to accidental hypothermia occur annually around the world, there is ambiguity in how to properly transport and treat patients affected by the condition.
“Certain treatment approaches are available only in specialized centers,” the authors write, “and clarification is needed regarding the choice between transporting a patient to a specialized center and providing treatment locally. Existing recommendations do not include recent developments in rewarming methods nor do they assist with decisions regarding transportation.” To fill these kinds of knowledge gaps, the paper includes sections on diagnosis, pre-hospital and hospital treatments, transport protocols and re-warming techniques, providing for the first time clear recommendation for best practices.
The paper outlines clear steps on determining the patient’s condition. If the victim is stable, the paper then suggests the correct transportation procedure to a hospital where the hypothermia symptoms can be treated with minimal invasive techniques, often just an electric blanket. If the victim’s condition is unstable, transportation to a specialised center with techniques of rewarming such as extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) or cardiopulmonary bypass becomes necessary.Formerly, the abdominal or chest cavity hypothermia had to be opened to warm patients from the inside. The paper suggests that this very invasive technique yields a lower success rate (~10% survival rate) than more modern techniques of invasive rewarming such as ECMO or cardiopulmonary bypass (~50% survival).
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