Variability in emergency department management of hypothermic infants ≤90 days of age

Yu Hsiang J. Lo*, Sriram Ramgopal, Andrew N. Hashikawa, James A. Cranford, Alexander J. Rogers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Objectives: Hypothermic infants are at risk for serious bacterial and herpes simplex virus infections, but there are no evidence-based guidelines for managing these patients. We sought to characterize variations and trends in care for these infants in the emergency department (ED). Methods: We conducted a retrospective cross-sectional study of infants under 90 days old presenting to 32 pediatric EDs from 2009 through 2019 with an International Classification of Diseases diagnosis code for hypothermia. We characterized variation in diagnostic testing, antimicrobial treatment, and disposition of children in three age groups (≤30 days, 31–60 days, and 61–90 days old) and analyzed care trends. Results: Of 7828 ED encounters meeting inclusion criteria, most (81%) were ≤ 30 days of age. Infants in the 0–30 days old age group, compared to 61–90 days old age group, had a higher proportion of blood (75% vs. 68%), urine (72% vs. 64%), and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF; 35% vs. 22%) cultures obtained (p < 0.01) and greater antimicrobial use (81% vs. 68%; p < 0.01) in the ED. From 2009 to 2019, C-reactive protein (CRP), and procalcitonin usage steadily increased, from 25% to 40% and 0% to 30% respectively, while antibiotic use (83% to 77%), CSF testing (53% to 44%), and chest radiography (47% to 34%) decreased. Considerable interhospital variation was noted in testing and treatment, including CSF testing (14–70%), inflammatory markers (CRP and procalcitonin; 8–88%), and antibiotics (56–92%). Conclusion: Substantial hospital-level variation exists for managing hypothermic infants in the ED. Long-term trends are notable for changing practice over time, particularly with increased use of inflammatory markers. Prospective studies are needed to risk stratify and optimize care for this population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)121-127
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Emergency Medicine
StatePublished - Oct 2022


  • Hypothermia
  • Practice pattern
  • Serious bacterial infections

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine


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