Deep-Chilling Trauma Patients To Try To Save Them

Posted Tuesday, November 15, 2011 --- 6:10 a.m.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Hypothermia can kill a person but doctors are now looking at buying time for trauma patients by doing just that in hopes of saving them.

Many trauma patients have injuries that should be fixable but they bleed to death before doctors can patch them up. Now doctors think putting them into extreme hypothermia just might allow them to survive long enough without brain damage so surgeons can do their work.

The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center is preparing to test that strategy on a handful of trauma victims who are bleeding so badly from gunshots, stab wounds or similar injuries that their hearts stop beating. Today when that happens, a mere 7 percent of patients survive.

A University of Pennsylvania bioethicist says success could spur some rethinking about the line between life and death. He says there's also the question of bad outcomes like brain damage.

Copyright 2011. The Associated Press.

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