Objective.—Although hypothermia is preventable, little has been published on its epidemiology. This study estimates the incidence of hypothermia and other cold-related morbidity emergency department (ED) visits in the United States.
Methods.—We identified hypothermia and other cold-related morbidity ED visits from the 1995– 2004 National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Surveys using the International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision (991.6–991.9) or cause-of-injury E-codes (901.0–901.9 and 988.3).
Results.—In the United States there were an estimated 15 574 (95% CI = 9 103–22 045) hypothermia and other cold-related morbidity ED visits during 1995 to 2004. Compared with other ED patients, those with hypothermia and other cold-related morbidity diagnoses were older (mean age 45 vs 36 years; P = .009) and were more likely to be uninsured (risk ratio [RR] = 2.44; 95% CI = 1.54–3.84). Hypothermia and other cold-related morbidity ED visits required more transfers to critical care units (RR = 6.73; 95% CI = 1.8–25.0) than did other ED visits.
Conclusions.—Hypothermia and other cold-related morbidity is a preventable resource-intensive condition that tends to affect the disadvantaged.