Background: Alcohol and drug intoxication is common in trauma patients and a significant proportion of cervical spine (c-spine) injuries occur in patients with intoxication. A standard approach to both intoxicated and sober patients with suspected c-spine injury in many trauma centers includes the placement of a rigid cervical collar for spinal immobilization until the c-spine can be “cleared.” Even after a negative CT, intoxicated patients often are immobilized for prolonged periods of time until a reliable exam can be performed due to concern for missed findings on CT scan, specifically unstable ligamentous injuries. This practice is less than ideal, as prolonged c-spine immobilization is associated with DVT, atelectasis, aspiration pneumonia, and elevated intracranial pressures. In 2015, the Eastern Association for the Surgery of Trauma (EAST) demonstrated that CT imaging of obtunded patients due to any cause would miss approximately 9% of cervical spine injuries, most of which are clinically insignificant. They additionally found no benefit to prolonged immobilization. Read more →
Author Archive for: Swami
Background: Emergency providers frequently care for agitated patients ranging from restlessness to verbally and physically aggressive. Agitation is a symptom, not a diagnosis and these patients require careful evaluation to rule in or out serious medical conditions. Unfortunately, the agitation itself often obstructs this evaluation and places the patient, other patients and staff at risk. While verbal de-escalation can be effective in select cases, administration of medications for behavioral control is often required. Numerous medications are available for this indication, but the optimal approach is still unclear. Read more →
Background: Acute asthma exacerbations are a common presentation to pediatric emergency departments (EDs). Standard treatment with inhaled beta agonists and corticosteroids are often sufficient in mild asthma but can fall short in the treatment of moderate to severe exacerbations. Magnesium sulfate (MgSO4) has long been touted as an adjunct treatment due to its bronchodilatory properties (both in its intravenous (IV) and nebulized form). Despite its routine use, the evidence for its benefit is inconsistent, particularly in the adult population where the most recent large RCT demonstrated modest benefits (Goodacre 2013). Read more →
Procalcitonin: Useful Test or Useless Pest to Improve Antibiotic Stewardship with Acute Respiratory Infections in the ED?
Background: In patients with an acute respiratory illness (ARI), it is often difficult to determine whether a bacterial infection is the underlying etiology and whether antibiotics are warranted. Excess antibiotic use carries risk of bacterial resistance, medical costs, and adverse drug effects. However, underuse of antibiotics risks inadequate treatment and progression of disease. In the setting of a bacterial infection, cytokines stimulate procalcitonin production and release. The serum procalcitonin level increases with the progression of bacterial infection and decreases upon recovery. Procalcitonin production is actually blocked in the setting of viral infection, resulting in low serum levels. Numerous studies have investigated the use of procalcitonin for the determination of initiating antibiotics as well as for aiding in decisions to terminate their use.
This Evidence-Based Emergency Medicine (EBEM) article reviews the following systematic review:
Neutropenia: An absolute neutrophil count less than 500 cells/mm3 or less than 1000 cells/mm3 with a predicted decline to less than 500 cells/mm3
ANC = WBC x (neutrophil% + band%)
- Mild: 1000 – 1500
- Mod: 500 – 1000
- Severe: 100 – 500
- Profound: <100