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January 7, 1974

Accidental Hypothermia: Associated Diagnoses and Prognosis in a Common Problem

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Medicine, Harborview Medical Center, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle. Dr. Conn is now at the Department of Medicine, Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, Springfield.

JAMA. 1974;227(1):37-40. doi:10.1001/jama.1974.03230140011002

Sixteen patients with accidental hypothermia were admitted to the medical service of a general hospital in a one-year period. Analysis of the clinical status of the patients and the associated disease states showed that the underlying disease was more important in determining survival than the method of rewarming. Seven of eight patients with marked underlying organ system disease died, while all eight patients without severe organic disease survived even though the degree of hypothermia and time required for rewarming were similar in the two series. Slow passive rewarming is adequate therapy for most hypothermic patients, and major therapeutic efforts should be directed at underlying disease processes rather than the physiologic response to hypothermia.