Background: Acute, non-traumatic low back pain (LBP) is a common chief complaint and has been estimated to lead to more than 2.7 million ED visits annually nationwide. It affects a broad range of individuals and can be painful and debilitating long after an initial ED visit. Often times in clinical practice, evidence based decisions on medical management of acute lower back pain seem to be thrown out the window; rather medications are prescribed on a gestalt medicament do jour. NSAIDs, muscle relaxants, and opioids have all been used in isolation and in combination for treating acute LBP but trials investigating the efficacy of these medications combined have produced heterogeneous results. Read more →
Author Archive for: Swami
Background: It’s common practice to give carefully titrated supplemental oxygen therapy for patients in COPD exacerbation. We give enough O2 to prevent hypoxemia, but not so much that it causes hypoventilation or dangerous hypercarbia. If you’re like me then you’ve probably heard a number of conflicting theories as to WHY overzealous supplemental oxygen leads to bad outcomes in these patients.
Does hyperoxia suppress a COPD patient’s respiratory drive? Does it cause V/Q mismatching? Does it change the chemistry of the patient’s blood through the Haldane effect? It’s enough to make you want to give up and page respiratory therapy. Well lucky for you we sifted through the primary literature to bring you the myths and facts, and the short answer is…it’s complicated. Read more →
Background: Acetaminophen (paracetamol) is commonly used to lower the temperature of patients with fever suspected to be causeed by an infection in both homes across the world and the hospital. There are, however, opposing theories to the utility of decreasing fever in these situations. One side argues that fever places “additional physiological stress on patients,” who are already ill (Young 2015). Removing this source of increased metabolic demand would allow the body to allocate additional resources to fighting infection, respiratory function etc. On the other hand, fever may “enhance immune-cell function” and inhibit further growth and spread of an infecting pathogen (Young 2015). From a simple evolutionary standpoint, fever, which entails a significant cost likely evolved and persists because it benefits the host. To date we don’t have high-level evidence that acetaminophen treatment of fever due to probable infection is beneficial, ineffective, or harmful. Read more →
As we have discussed in previous posts, the care of patients with cardiac arrest is a key skill for Emergency Providers. ACLS provides a foundation for care but is rife with shortcomings including, but not limited to, reliance on outdated data and inability to adapt in the face of improved understanding of cardiac arrest pathophysiology. The incorporation of technological advances and skills is another massive limitation of ACLS. One of these technologies is point of care ultrasound (POCUS).
Over the last two decades, POCUS has become a integral part of Emergency Medicine training and practice. POCUS allows for rapid, bedside diagnosis of a number of conditions including cholecystitis, urinary retention and ectopic pregnancy. Additionally, it is becoming a greater component in the management of the critical patient where it can be used to assess cardiac contractility, wall motion abnormalities, intraperitoneal free fluid and more. Application of POCUS in all patients with cardiac arrest is simply the next step. This diagnostic modality is not highlighted in the current iteration of ACLS but is a practice changer. The bottom line is that application of POCUS in cardiac arrest allows the emergency provider to guide resuscitation with a direct look into the body – we are no longer blind.
For this post, I want to discuss two ways that we can use ultrasound in cardiac arrest patients, specifically in pulseless electrical activity (PEA), in the Emergency Department:
- Assessment for the presence or absence of cardiac output and
- As an alternate framework to the Hs and Ts.
A quick disclaimer – I am not an ultrasound expert, I did not do a fellowship but I am passionate about it’s application in our sickest patients. Read more →
This post is meant to accompany the REBEL Cast episode on The Crashing Asthmatic from June 2015. This blog post will also be simultaneously posted on the Core EM site here. Come over and check out our core content offerings. Thanks to the REBEL team for continuing to promote our site!
Definition: An episode of wheezing, chest tightness or coughing resulting from variable airflow obstruction that is reversible. Underlying exacerbations are a chronic inflammatory disorder of the airways. Read more →