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The role of deep hypothermia research in EMS

Editor's note: University of Pittsburgh Medical Center is preparing to test induced hypothermia on a handful of trauma victims who are bleeding badly. This kind of research can offer solid benefits for EMS practitioners, says Editorial Advisor Art Hsieh.

When I attended the American Heart Association Annual ECC symposium last year, there was buzz about how deep hypothermia in swine studies was producing some very amazing survival results, with some test subjects surviving hours of cardiac arrest without apparent neurologic injury.

Coupled with what we know about the benefits of therapeutic hypothermia in medical cardiac arrest patients, it makes sense to turn research attention to critically injured patients who, in the past, did not survive very well.

This article also points toward the challenges EMS has in conducting prospective research with its population. Because we contact the community under emergency conditions, it's very difficult to spend the time in advising potential subjects and obtaining their permission to participate in the study.

After several years of relative darkness, the studies have been increasing in scope and number. We'll need this information to help grow the profession and understand how it contributes to patient outcomes.

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