Hypothermia with Trauma

This case is written by Dr. Stephen Miller. He is an emergency physician in Halifax. He is also the former medical director of EM Simulation and the current director of the Skilled Clinician Program for UGME at Dalhousie University. He developed his interest in simulation while obtaining his Masters of Health Professions Education.

Why it Matters

Moderate to severe hypothermia can be quite challenging to correct. This case highlights several important features of hypothermia management:

  • The importance of searching for concurrent illness that may be causing the hypothermia or working against rewarming efforts
  • The effect of hypothermia on trauma management
  • Modifications to ACLS as required during hypothermic resuscitation
  • The multitude of ways in which one can attempt to actively re-warm a patient

Clinical Vignette

An approximately 30 year old female is brought into the ED at 4 AM by a man who found her lying at the side of the road. It is minus 30 degrees Celsius outside and she has no coat or shoes. The man does not know her and is unable to provide any additional history except that she was blue and having trouble breathing when he found her. She is noted to have a decreased LOC and laboured breathing. She has obvious deformities of her left forearm and right leg.

Case Summary

30 year-old female is brought into the ED at 4 AM by a man who found her lying at the side of the road with no coat or shoes. It is minus 30 degrees Celsius outside. On arrival she has a reduced LOC, laboured breathing, a right-sided pneumothorax, cyanotic extremities, a left radius & ulna fracture, and a right tib-fib fracture. The team is required to use both active and passive rewarming strategies. Regardless of the team’s efforts, the patient in this case will arrest. Upon ROSC, they are required to continue rewarming as well as to address the other traumatic injuries.

Download the case here: Hypothermia

CXR for the case found here:

PTX R with rib fractures

(CXR source: http://radiopaedia.org/cases/pneumothorax-due-to-rib-fractures-1)

ECG for the case found here:


(ECG source: : http://cdn.lifeinthefastlane.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/hypothermia-shiver-artefact.jpg)

Right lung U/S found here:

Left lung U/S found here:

RUQ FAST image found here:


Pericardial U/S found here:

(All U/S images are courtesy of McMaster PoCUS Subspecialty Training Program.)

Two Patient Trauma

This case was written by Dr. Martin Kuuskne from McGill University. Dr. Kuuskne is a PGY5 Emergency Medicine resident and one of the editors-in-chief at EMSimCases.

Why it Matters

Emergency Medicine often requires care providers to be in multiple places at once. It is not uncommon to have two patients simultaneously require urgent or semi-urgent intervention. This case helps learners to develop this important skill by highlighting:

  • The challenges of triaging patients as immediately urgent or less urgent
  • The need to assign tasks to team members
  • The importance of adhering to the basics, even in a taxing situation

Clinical Vignette

Before entering the room: You are working the day shift in a tertiary care emergency department with full surgical capabilities. EMS is en-route to the hospital with two patients, a 37-year-old male and a 65 year old female, who were both drivers of a t-bone MVC of unknown speed. The ambulances will arrive in 2 minutes.

Upon entering the room: Each patient will be accompanied with a paramedic who will give this information and will be available to stay if asked.

Patient A: “37 year old male, belted driver, he got t-boned on the driver’s side. There was significant intrusion of his side door. We’re not sure if there was a loss of consciousness, we put him on a non-rebreather and his SAT was around 92%, tachy at 105 with an OK BP around 110 systolic during the ride.”

Patient B: “65 year old female, belted driver who t-boned the other car. The front of her car was totaled. Airbags were deployed and there was a brief loss of consciousness. We put on the collar ASAP. Vitals were stable en route but she was a bit confused during the ride. No vomiting.”

Case Summary

A young male and a middle-aged female are brought to the ED after a T-bone MVC at an unknown speed. Both patients were drivers. The emergency team is expected to triage the patients accordingly and to split the team so that both patients are treated.

Patient A: The team is expected to recognize respiratory compromise secondary to pneumothorax. Needle decompression and tube thoracostomy should be administered. The patient will in remain in respiratory compromise post-decompression and the team should consider intubation. If the pneumothorax is not recognized or treated, the patient will arrest. On secondary survey, the patient will complain of pelvic pain in addition to a positive eFAST evaluation. The team should activate the massive transfusion protocol (MTP) and activate the trauma/surgery team.

Patient B: The team is expected to recognize hypoglycemia in the context of a minor head injury. Immediate glucose replacement is required.

Download the case here:  Two for one MVC

CXR for Patient A found here:

left flail chest

(CXR source: http://learningradiology.com/archives2009/COW%20353-Flail%20Chest/caseoftheweek353page.htm)

Pelvic xray for Patient A found here:

open book # from radiopedia

(Xray source: http://radiopaedia.org/articles/open-book-fracture)

Left lung U/S for Patient A found here:

Right lung U/S for Patient A found here:

RUQ FAST image for Patient A found here:


Pericardial U/S for Patient A found here:

(All U/S images are courtesy of McMaster PoCUS Subspecialty Training Program.)

CXR for Patient B found here:

normal female CXR radiopedia

(CXR source: http://radiopaedia.org/articles/normal-position-of-diaphragms-on-chest-radiography)