Chemical Sedation of the Agitated Patient

16 Feb
February 16, 2017

Background: Acutely agitated and aggressive patients have become an unfortunate commonality in emergency departments throughout the world.  They are often the most difficult patient encounters during a shift. Initially, when these patients’ present, medical providers are trying to figure out the underlying etiology including organic, psychiatric, or drug related illness.  Coaxing agitated patients out of an aggressive and often altered state with verbal and environmental modification is often fruitless.  When verbal de-escalation does not work, the next options are physical and/or chemical sedation.
Finding an ideal combination of medications for chemical sedation is critically important and the most ideal medication(s) need to work quickly and have a good safety profile. Over the last few years there is increasing literature evaluating different agents of chemical sedation, looking mainly at antipyschotic agents and benzodiazepines, in isolation and combination.

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Outcomes After Aggressive Management of Recent-Onset Atrial Fibrillation in the ED

13 Feb
February 13, 2017

Background: Atrial fibrillation (AF) is one of the most common dysrhythmias encountered in the ED. The management of recent-onset AF and atrial flutter (AFl) in the ED continues to be debated. The discussion centers on whether patients with recent-onset AF should be rhythm controlled (e.g. converted back to sinus rhythm) or rate controlled only. This debate was showcased in a point-counterpoint in Annals of Emergency Medicine in 2011 (Stiell 2011, Decker 2011). The rhythm control supporters argue that AF/AFl is abnormal, worsens quality of life, leads to cardiac remodeling and, in may patients, requires medications for rate control and anticoagulation. The rate control group argues that cardioversion runs the risk of causing a thromboembolic event (i.e. CVA, peripheral arterial occlusion). Thus, it should not be performed until the absence of clot in the left atrium is confirmed (by TEE) or appropriate anticoagulation has occurred. It has long been taught that if the patient has been in AF/AFl for < 48 hours, the risk of developing a clot in the left atrium is negligible and cardioversion may be pursued. However, some recent literature has called this classic teaching into question (Nuotio 2014). Prospective studies looking at outcomes of recent-onset AF/AFl patients after aggressive treatment in the ED are needed to further evaluate the risks of aggressive treatment.

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Normalization of Vital Signs Does Not Reduce the Probability of Pulmonary Embolism

09 Feb
February 9, 2017

Background: In patients with symptoms of pulmonary embolism (PE), we often turn to vital signs, including heart rate, respiratory rate and pulse oximetry, as part of our initial impression of the patient.  Before even considering further testing, such as d-dimer or CTPA, we look first at the vital signs to form our gestalt impression of the patient.  Clinical decision making tools are utilized in one static point in time, but gestalt decision-making occurs over the course of the patient’s entire stay in the Emergency Department (ED).  Because of this, clinicians may use changes in vital signs to augment their differential diagnosis or to justify their belief that a PE work up is not necessary.  

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The Ketorolac Analgesic Ceiling

19 Jan
January 19, 2017

Ketorolac Analgesic CeilingBackground: Ketorolac is a commonly used parenteral analgesic in the Emergency Department (ED) for a variety of indications ranging from musculoskeletal injuries to renal colic. This non steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) is available in oral, intranasal and parenteral routes. Ketorolac has a number of side effects including nausea, vomiting, gastrointestinal bleeding and renal insufficiency. The risk of GI bleeding appears to be related to the use of higher doses and prolonged use. As with all NSAIDs, the drug has an analgesic ceiling – the dose at which additional dosing will not provide additional analgesia but can lead to more side effects. The current FDA dosing is 30 mg intravenously and 60 mg intramuscularly for patients < 65 years of age. However, the necessity of these doses is unclear and prior studies have demonstrated efficacy of considerably lower doses. The use of lower doses, if effective, may mitigate the potential for harm. Read more →

Alpha Blockers in Renal Colic: A Systematic Review

16 Jan
January 16, 2017

Renal ColicBackground: Ureteric (renal) colic is a common, painful condition encountered in the Emergency Department (ED). Sustained contraction of smooth muscle in the ureter as a kidney stone passes the length of the ureter leads to pain. The majority of stones will pass spontaneously (i.e. without urologic intervention). For over a decade, calcium channel blockers (i.e. nifedipine) and, more commonly, alpha adrenoreceptor antagonists (i.e. tamsulosin) have been employed in the treatment of ureteric colic for their potential ability to increase stone passage, reduce pain medication use and reduce urologic interventions. These interventions were mostly based on poor methodologic studies and meta-analyses of these flawed studies.

Over the past 3-4 years, a small number of higher-quality RCTs have been published (Ferre 2009, Pickard 2015, Furyk 2016). These studies have demonstrated a lack of benefit for routine use of alpha blockers. However, secondary outcomes suggest a possible benefit in larger stones (> 6 mm). In spite of recent multiple studies, the use of alpha blockers remains an area of active debate. Read more →

Intraosseous (IO) Needle Length in Obese Patients

09 Jan
January 9, 2017

intraosseousBackground: Intraosseous (IO) access can play an important role in the resuscitation of the critically ill patient to help expedite delivery of critical medications (i.e. RSI). Much like with peripheral or central access, obesity can present a challenge to placement of an IO as accurate placement relies on use of landmarks which may not be palpable in this group. Additionally, increased soft tissue depth may render standard needles ineffective. IO needles require 5 mm of excess length from skin to bony cortex to ensure successful placement (i.e. maximal depth of 20 mm for a 25 mm needle). Studies investigating these questions are necessary in order to understand how reliable IO access will be in obese patients. Read more →

The PEAPETT Trial: Half Dose tPA for PEA due to Massive Pulmonary Embolism

05 Jan
January 5, 2017

peapett-trialBackground: Anyone who has run a code, knows that pulseless electrical activity (PEA) during cardiac arrest has a worse prognosis compared to patients with shockable rhythms.  In patients with suspected massive PE as the cause of their cardiac arrest the Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) and American Heart Association (AHA) guidelines do recommend consideration of thrombolytics.  There is however, no uniform consensus on the type, dose, duration, timing, or method of administration.  The current study (PEAPETT Trial) was an attempt to do exactly that. Read more →

Question Tradition: Glucagon for Food Boluses

02 Jan
January 2, 2017

glucagon-and-esophageal-foreign-bodiesBackground: How many of you have had this scenario…patient comes into ED, just ate a big steak and now they can’t swallow.  You call gastroenterology, who asks… “Did you try glucagon yet?” OK, well maybe not exactly like that, but you get what I am asking.  Esophageal foreign body impactions are a rare entity, that cause quite a bit of discomfort to patients and have the potential for esophageal necrosis and perforation.  The definitive treatment for removal is endoscopy with direct visualization and removal of the object causing the obstruction.  This procedure is invasive, time consuming, requires a gastroenterologist, as well as procedural sedation.  Due to the time it takes to set up for this procedure, many consultants will ask to try medical therapy first.  There are several options including carbonated beverages, calcium channel blockers, sublingual nitroglycerin, proteolytic enzymes, benzodiazepines, and last but not least intravenous glucagon. This review will focus on the use of glucagon for esophageal foreign bodies. Read more →

December 2016 REBEL Cast: Obstructive Left Main Coronary Artery Disease

19 Dec
December 19, 2016

obstructive-left-main-coronary-artery-diseaseThe standard treatment for patients with obstructive left main coronary artery disease has typically been coronary-artery bypass grafting (CABG), however some newer trials have suggested that maybe drug-eluting stents may be an acceptable alternative to CABG in select patients. In this episode we will be reviewing the two most recent publications on this topic:

  1. The EXCEL Trial
  2. The NOBLE Trial

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Cardiac Arrest, Return of Spontaneous Circulation (ROSC) With No ST-Segment Elevation on ECG. Now What?

15 Dec
December 15, 2016

cardiac-arrestBackground: The American Heart Association/American College of Cardiology (AHA/ACC) give a Class I recommendation for activation of the cardiac catheterization lab in patients with out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) whom ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) is present.  The evidence for early cardiac catheterization in patients after cardiac arrest, with ROSC and no STEMI is a bit more controversial.  The most recent 2015 AHA/ACC guidelines recommend, “it may be reasonable,” to perform an emergent cardiac catheterization in select patients without STEMI. Read more →

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