Improving assessment of the hypothermic Patient
Accurate Assessment of the hypothermic patient is key to determining appropriate treatment.
Hypothermic thermometers allow for the best assessment, but the first on scene often do not have
access to thermometers and therefore rely on basic assessment techniques. As a result the long
standing terms of Mild, Moderate or Severe, have been used. Unfortunately, those terms do not
always allow for an accurate description of the core temperature. The Swiss Staging System is the
most accurate non thermometer temperature estimation system. It has been documented in the
European Resuscitation Council guidelines 2010 and 2015 and recently in the New England Journal
of Medicine. Changing the assessment technique can allow for a better estimation of the core
temperature allowing for better transport decisions helping in determining if the patient can be
managed at a (Level 1) Centre, or if direct evacuation to a centre capable of more invasive rewarming
techniques is required.
At the end of the lecture the practitioner will;
1. Understand the limitations of traditional hypothermia description terms (i.e.; Mild, Moderate and Severe).
2. Identify the 4 stages of hypothermia (Hypothermia 1 – Hypothermia 4) as defined by the Swiss Staging System.
3. Understand how this Staging System more accurately estimates the patient core
temperature, without the use of a thermometer.
4. Be knowledgeable of the treatment requirements for each of the hypothermia stages.
5. Understand how the Staging System temperature estimation can aid in transport decisions and patient outcome.