UPMC Treats Patients for Frostbite, Hypothermia During Cold

By: Jennifer C. Yates and Rick Pietzak

As an unusual weather pattern pushed arctic air south into much of the United States on Tuesday, emergency department physicians, nurses and staff throughout UPMC were ready to treat patients suffering from cold-related illnesses.

Since last night, UPMC doctors in Pittsburgh treated a total of five patients for frostbite, including four at UPMC Mercy and one at UPMC Shadyside. Doctors said they had one case Tuesday of hypothermia requiring advanced care to reverse. The patient, a 90-year-old man, was in fair condition at UPMC Presbyterian on Tuesday afternoon.

“Thankfully, we had a lot of notice about this extreme weather, so we think many people are taking precautions such as dressing warmly or staying inside if they don’t have to venture out,” said Donald M. Yealy, M.D.,  chair of UPMC Emergency Medicine. “However, for those who do suffer any cold-related injuries, we’re prepared for any needs.”

At Mercy, a 30-year-old man transferred from UPMC St. Margaret and a 38-year-old man who had been working outside with gloves were sent from the UPMC Mercy emergency department to the hospital’s world-class burn unit with frostbite injuries to their hands. The 38-year-old sustained blistering and required hydrotherapy, a special suite in the burn unit where the patient receives a steady stream of water to loosen and ultimately remove the burned skin, so new skin can regrow.

Also early Tuesday morning, a 55-year-old man, believed to be homeless, was treated at UPMC Mercy for early frostbite signs with his feet. His condition wasn’t as serious as the other cases and required soaking in water. He was treated and released.

How are you staying warm and safe today? Tell us in the comments section below. Also, check back with us on the blog later today for updates on patients we’re seeing in our hospitals with cold-related illnesses.