Wilderness Medical Society practice guidelines for the out-of-hospital evaluation and treatment of accidental hypothermia

Wilderness Environ Med. 2014 Dec;25(4):425-45. doi: 10.1016/j.wem.2014.09.002. Epub 2014 Oct 31.


To provide guidance to clinicians, the Wilderness Medical Society (WMS) convened an expert panel to develop evidence-based guidelines for the out-of-hospital evaluation and treatment of victims of accidental hypothermia. The guidelines present the main diagnostic and therapeutic modalities and provide recommendations for the management of hypothermic patients. The panel graded the recommendations based on the quality of supporting evidence and the balance between benefits and risks/burdens according the criteria published by the American College of Chest Physicians. The guidelines also provide suggested general approaches to the evaluation and treatment of accidental hypothermia that incorporate specific recommendations.

Keywords: accidental hypothermia; avalanche; cold; hypothermia; resuscitation; rewarming; wilderness medicine.

Publication types

  • Practice Guideline

MeSH terms

  • Accidents
  • Ambulatory Care / methods
  • Avalanches
  • Body Temperature
  • Emergency Medicine / methods
  • Evidence-Based Practice
  • Hypothermia / diagnosis*
  • Hypothermia / physiopathology
  • Hypothermia / therapy*
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'
  • Rescue Work / methods
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Shivering
  • Societies, Medical
  • Wilderness Medicine / methods*