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July 9, 1997

Preventing Hypothermia-Related Death-Reply

Author Affiliations

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Atlanta, Ga

JAMA. 1997;278(2):116. doi:10.1001/jama.1997.03550020048028

In Reply.  —Dr Epstein's point is well taken that in many instances no one is near hypothermia patients to recognize early symptoms of exposure to the cold. As he points out, and as we demonstrated for heat-related deaths in Chicago,1 prevention of weather-related mortality must rely on human services, and ultimately there is no substitute for a functional social network. However, practitioners familiar with the signs of hypothermia can play a crucial and indispensable role in the prevention of hypothermia-related morbidity and mortality. In addition to recognizing early symptoms of hypothermia and intervening clinically, practitioners can also play a positive role by linking at-risk patients with social services (eg, social workers and visiting nurses as well as family and neighbors). All 3 cases described in the MMWR article2 had a history of defined risk factors for hypothermia (eg, a prolonged history of drug abuse, a medical history of dementia, and