Hypothermia in the Combat Trauma Population

Steven G. Schauer*, Michael D. April, Andrew D. Fisher, Wells L. Weymouth, Joseph K. Maddry, Kevin R. Gillespie, Jose Salinas, Andrew P. Cap

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: The MARCH (Massive hemorrhage, Airway, Respirations, Circulation, and Hypothermia/Head injuries) algorithm taught to military medics includes interventions to prevent hypothermia. As possible sequelae from major trauma, hypothermia is associated with coagulopathy and lower survival. This paper sought to define hypothermia within our combat trauma population using an outcomes-based method, and determine clinical variables associated with hypothermia. Methods: This is a secondary analysis of a previously described dataset from the Department of Defense Trauma Registry focused on casualties who received prehospital care. A receiver operating curve was constructed and Youden’s index was used to define hypothermia within the predetermined population based on mortality risk. A multivariable regression model was used to identify associations. Results: There were 23,243 encounters that met the inclusion criteria for this study with patients having received prehospital care and documentation of at least one emergency department temperature. An optimal threshold of 36.2° C was found to predict mortality; 3,159 casualties had temperatures below this threshold (14%). Survival to discharge was lower among casualties with hypothermia (91% versus 98%). Hypothermic casualties were less likely to undergo blanket application (38% versus 40%). However, they had higher proportions with Hypothermia Prevention and Management Kit application (11% versus 7%) and radiant warming (2% versus 1%). On multivariable regression modeling, none of the hypothermia interventions were associated with a decreased likelihood of hypothermia. Non-hypothermia interventions associated with hypothermia included prehospital intubation (OR 1.57, 95% CI 1.45–1.69) and blood product administration. Conclusions: Hypothermia, including a single recorded low temperature in the patient care record, was associated with worse outcomes in this combat trauma population. Prehospital intubation was most strongly associated with developing hypothermia. Prehospital warming interventions were not associated with a reduction in hypothermia risk. Our dataset suggests that current methods for prehospital warming are inadequate.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)934-940
Number of pages7
JournalPrehospital Emergency Care
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2023
Externally publishedYes


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