Accidental hypothermia is a life threatening condition that can lead to a challenging resuscitation. The very young, old, and intoxicated patient are at high risk to developing hypothermia, even in temperate climates. The pathophysiologic changes from hypothermia make the standard ACLS approach insufficient to care for the hypothermic patient. This article will discuss the physiology of hypothermia and how you should alter your approach in the hypothermic patient, including early consideration of extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO).
Drowning cases peak this time of year and represent a leading cause of mortality in children. For example, drowning represents the leading cause of death in boys ages 5-14 years old, and worldwide, there are 500,000 annual deaths from drowning.1 Hypoxic injury and subsequent respiratory failure represent the primary causes of morbidity and mortality. Although providers are typically taught to be aware of possible trauma (e.g. cervical spine fracture) when evaluating a drowning case, less than 0.5% of drownings are traumatic.2 The duration of immersion, volume of aspirated fluid, and water temperature dictate clinical outcomes.1 We review the presentation, pathophysiology, and management of drowning to raise awareness about this important public health issue.