SMACC Chicago

29 Jun
June 29, 2015

SMACC ChicagoThis year I was fortunate enough to attend the 3rd annual Social Media And Critical Care (SMACC) conference from June 23rd – 26th, 2015 in Chicago, IL. This year the conference was dubbed as SMACC Chicago and followed by the hashtag #smaccUS on twitter. I tried to keep track of all the great take home messages while at the conference for those not lucky enough to make it or who have not heard of it. For those of you who have not heard of SMACC, it is a modern, academic meeting, mixed with on-line technologies to deliver innovation in education in the fields of emergency medicine and critical care. This conference addresses important clinical issues in a format that is energetic, cutting edge, and yet reputable. If you wanna see what the conference was about last year checkout this link: smaccGOLD. So what did I learn this year? Well, a lot more than one post can give justice to, but some of the highlights are listed below. Read more →

REBELCast Bootcamp Edition

15 Jun
June 15, 2015

REBELCast Bootcamp EditionWelcome back to a special edition, or should I say “bootcamp edition” of REBELCast. We have started to do something new by inviting guests onto the show to discuss papers in the literature they find interesting. This month I had the pleasure of working with Steve Carroll, an emergency room physician in my neck of the woods, down in San Antonio, TX. Today, Steve and I are going to specifically discuss how to manage the hypoxic and agitated patient, and the topic we are discussing:

Delayed Sequence Intubation (DSI) of the Hypoxic and Agitated Patient

Read more →

Morphine Kills in Acute Decompensated Heart Failure

08 Jun
June 8, 2015

Morphine Kills in Acute Decompensated Heart FailureBackground: Intravenous morphine use has been reported in nearly one of seven patients hospitalized with acute decompensated heart failure (ADHF). I have anecdotally, even seen physicians giving morphine as a “first-line” agent: Nitroglycerine, Non-Invasive Positive Pressure Ventilation (NIPPV), and Morphine. There is surprisingly little evidence supporting routine use of morphine in ADHF, and no major American cardiology or emergency medicine society has really endorsed or published any recommendations on the treatment of ADHF with morphine.

Most of us were taught the acronym “MONA,” Morphine, Oxygen, Nitroglycerin, and Aspirin for treatment of acute pulmonary edema and commonly, quoted physiologic/clinical beliefs for the use of morphine in ADHF are: beneficial hemodynamic effects, managing anxiety/agitation in air hunger, reduction in preload, and maybe to a lesser extent, afterload, and finally, decreasing heart rate. We should also consider the use of morphine in a framework of risk and benefit. For example intravenous morphine can also have some deleterious effects like causing central nervous system suppression, ventilatory depression, and hypotension.

The Acute Decompensated Heart Failure National Registry (ADHERE) is a large multicenter registry that records data from patients hospitalized with ADHF with more than 175,000 hospitalizations from over 250 hospitals across America. To be included in this registry patients must be >18years of age, admitted to an acute care hospital and receive a discharge diagnosis of ADHF. Data for this registry are collected by retrospective chart review and entered via an electronic web-based case report form for all consecutive eligible patients. Read more →

Low Risk Chest Pain and Clinically Relevant Adverse Cardiac Events (CRACE)

04 Jun
June 4, 2015

CRACE v2Background: In 2010, 5.4% of all emergency department (ED) visits in the United States were for chest pain. Admission or observation of such patients cost about $11 billion dollars in the United States in 2006. The majority of these admissions are commonly determined to be non-cardiac in etiology. Many physicians and patients believe that a hospital admission or extended observation after a “negative” ED workup has a safety benefit for patients. Previous studies have looked at 30-day mortality, but no current large trials have looked the short-term risk for clinically relevant adverse cardiac events, including inpatient STEMI, life-threatening arrhythmias, cardiac or respiratory arrest, or death. Other things to keep in mind is that one of the pitfalls of hospitalization of chest pain patients can lead to false-positive testing, hospital-acquired infections, venous thromboembolism, and other iatrogenic events, and can have greater than a 2% rate of adverse events at 30 days often cited as the upper boundary estimate for low-risk chest pain patients.

The purpose of the current study was to quantify the incidence of short-term clinically relevant adverse cardiac events (CRACE), or more simply put, life-threatening events  in patients admitted to the hospital after a “negative” ED evaluation of ischemia. The definition of “negative” was negative serial cardiac biomarkers, normal vital signs, and non-ischemic electrocardiograms (ECGs).

And by the way, checkout the authors: Scott Weingart and David Neman…. Read more →

REBELCast: The Crashing Asthmatic

01 Jun
June 1, 2015

The Crashing AsthmaticAcute severe asthma, formerly called status asthmaticus, is defined as severe asthma unresponsive to repeated courses of beta-agonist therapy or subcutaneous epinephrine. It is a medical emergency that requires immediate recognition and treatment. Recently, Anand Swaminathan (Twitter: @EMSwami) gave a lecture to the residents at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UTHSCSA) February 2015. This post is a summary of that lecture on how to manage the crashing asthmatic. Read more →

Mythbuster: Administration of Vasopressors Through Peripheral Intravenous Access

28 May
May 28, 2015

VasopressorsBackground: Vasopressors are frequently used in critically ill patients with hemodynamic instability both in the emergency department (ED) as well as intensive care units (ICUs). Typically, vasopressors are given through central venous catheters (CVCs) as opposed to peripheral intravenous (PIV) access due to the concerns about adverse events (i.e. tissue ischemia/necrosis) associated with extravasation through PIVs. In a truly hypotensive, critically ill patient the use of a PIV to administer vasopressors will allow the medication to stabilize the patient sooner and reduce the time to hemodynamic stability. The requirement to start vasopressors through a CVC may delay administration of pressors. Also, performing the insertion of a CVC in a hypotensive patient in an emergency circumstance versus an elective circumstance may increase the risk of adverse events from the procedure itself (i.e. bacteremia, pneumothorax, arterial puncture). Finally, most of the evidence cited for avoiding PIV administration of pressors is a sparse collection of case studies and expert opinion. Read more →

Cardiogenic Shock

25 May
May 25, 2015

Cardiogenic ShockAuthor’s Note: This post is one of the first written for a new site sponsored by the NYU/Bellevue Emergency Department called Core EM. This is a FOAM site dedicated to core content Emergency Medicine featuring a blog, podcast and procedure video section. The Core EM Project launches on June 15th, 2015. Thanks to Salim and the REBEL EM editorial staff for posting this here. We’ll make sure to let you all know when Core EM is up and running at

Definition: Tissue hypoperfusion that is primarily attributable to damage to the heart.

Criteria: The cardiology literature focuses diagnostic criteria based on systolic blood pressure (SBP) (Gowda 2008)

  • SBP < 90 mm Hg
  • Decrease in MAP by 30 mm Hg

It is more important, however, to look for evidence of hypoperfusion. In the acute setting, this will typically manifest as a change in mental status (lethargy, decreased responsiveness, agitation, decreased cap refill, cool extremeties etc.). Read more →

7 Pediatric Hacks for Your ED

21 May
May 21, 2015

7 Pediatric Hacks for Your EDHacks are all the rage! There is even a current television show dedicated to “life hacks”. While the following may not be as cool as cutting cake with dental floss or cooking a pizza on your dash board (these were actually on that show) what I have learned from my training and experience in Pediatric Emergency Medicine (and my own 5 children) is that there are some hacks that can make things much easier for you, the kid, and the parents. The hacks presented here range from treatment for common (and often benign) conditions to serious situations. Read more →

A New Pulseless Electrical Activity Algorithm

18 May
May 18, 2015

Pulseless Electrical ActivityPatients with pulseless electrical activity (PEA) account for almost 1/3 of cardiac arrest and even more troublesome is that the survival rate is significantly worse than patients with shockable rhythms. Both the European and American ACLS guidelines stress the importance of quickly finding and addressing the cause of PEA. This is traditionally done with recalling the 5 to 6 H’s and T’s, but during cardiopulmonary resuscitation it is difficult to recall all 13 causes of PEA by trying to recall this list. In 2014 a review article was published that was developed by several departments from the Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, NC that tried to simplify the diagnostic approach to PEA. Read more →

May 2015 REBELCast

14 May
May 14, 2015

May 2015 REBELCastWelcome to the May 2015 REBELCast, where Swami, Matt, and I are going to tackle a couple of articles just published this year.  First, there is a lack of research examining the efficacy of steroids in patients with allergic reactions or anaphylaxis. Despite this, corticosteroids are standard care for patients with these disorders. Second, current regulations permit storage of PRBCs for up to 42 days, but maybe fresh PRBCs may improve outcomes in the critically ill by enhancing oxygen delivery while minimizing toxic effects from cellular changes and accumulation of bioactive materials in blood components during prolonged storage. So with that introduction today we are going to specifically tackle:

  • Topic #1: Corticosteroids in Allergic Reactions & Anaphylaxis
  • Topic #2: Age of Packed Red Blood Cells (PRBCs) in Critically Ill Adults

Read more →

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