Sumary of A chilling cure: Facing killer heat, ERs use body bags to save lives:
- As a deadly heat wave scorched the Pacific Northwest last month, overwhelming hospital emergency rooms in a region unaccustomed to triple-digit temperatures, doctors resorted to a grim but practical tool to save lives: human body bags filled with ice and water.
- Officials at hospitals in Seattle and Renton, Washington, said that as more people arrived experiencing potentially fatal heatstroke, and with cooling catheters and even ice packs in short supply, they used the novel treatment to quickly immerse and cool several elderly people.
- Zipping heatstroke patients into ice-filled body bags worked so well it could become a go-to treatment in a world increasingly altered by climate change, said Dr. Alex St.
- John, an emergency physician at UW Medicine’s Harborview Medical Center.
- Despite the macabre connotation of body bags, using them is a cheap, convenient and scalable way to treat patients in mass casualty emergencies caused by excessive heat, said Dr. Grant Lipman, a Stanford University professor of emergency medicine.
- He co-authored a pioneering case study documenting the use for heatstroke of what doctors call “human remains pouches.
- ” “When people are this sick, you’ve got to cool them down fast,” Lipman said.
- Heatstroke is the most dangerous type of heat illness, a medical emergency that leads to death in up to a third of hospitalized patients.