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How many of your patients have risk factors for hypothermia?

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Dalphinis J (2013) Physical and social causes of hypothermia. Nursing Times; 109: 49/50, 12-15.


Hypothermia has a number of physical and social causes, particularly among older people. It is vital that nurses are aware of these risk factors. This article explores the causes of hypothermia, preventive measures, clinical signs and immediate treatment in the community.

5 key points

  1. Hypothermia is defined as a core temperature of 35oC or less
  2. It is difficult to estimate the role of hypothermia in excess winter mortality figures
  3. Hypothermia has multiple causes including environmental issues, physical ill health and drug therapies
  4. Thorough health and social assessment is needed to identify those at risk
  5. Patients diagnosed with hypothermia need immediate emergency care

What do you think?

  • Think about your patients. How many have risk factors for hypothermia?
  • What should you consider when you assess at risk patients?
  • What preventative measures would you recommend?
  • What emergency measures should you take if you suspect a patient has hypothermia?

More information about temperature measurement is available in our archive:

Our assessment skills section provides useful information on all aspects of patient assessment:

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