Today I am giving a talk at the 25th National Emergency Medicine Symposium by Kaiser Permanente in Maui, HI. The focus of this talk was on how to cognitively offload our minds as we are running a resuscitation. ACLS provides us with a framework in treating adult victims of Cardiac Arrest (CA) or other cardiopulmonary emergencies. This helps get providers who don’t commonly deal with CA, to improve things, such as the quality of CPR, minimizing interruptions during CPR for pulse checks, and the timing/dosing of epinephrine. Emergency Medicine (EM) and the prehospital world are different than many environments in medicine. We get minimal information at the time of patient arrival while at the same time the disease process that is taking place has not quite defined itself. We are constantly expected to acutely manage and resuscitate anyone who comes in our doors 24-7-365, many times without crucial information. Our job therefore should be to ensure coronary and cerebral perfusion are at their highest quality, but also simultaneously putting the pieces of the puzzle together to figure out why our patient is in CA. It can be very difficult to do both and many times we sacrifice one for the other. It is therefore important to cognitively offload ourselves during the resuscitation of our patients in CA and focus our attention on why they are in CA. As a disclosure for this lecture I did state that some of the recommendations made have evidence to support them and others are more theoretical and certainly up for discussion. Read more →
Tag Archive for: Beyond ACLS
Post Written By: Sam Ghali (Twitter: @EM_RESUS)
In cardiac arrest care there has been a lot of focus over the years on limiting interruptions in chest compressions during CPR. In fact, this concept has become a major focus of the current AHA Guidelines. Why? Because we know interruptions are bad [1,2]. One particular aspect of CPR that has gotten a lot of attention in this regard is the peri-shock period. It has been well established that longer pre- and peri-shock pauses are independently associated with decreased chance of survival [3,4].
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 ACLS provides a foundation for care but is rife with shortcomings including, but not limited to, reliance on outdated data and inability to adapt in the face of improved understanding of cardiac arrest pathophysiology.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 →
Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) provides a well structured framework for those who resuscitate infrequently. There is room to move beyond the algorithm to potentially provide better care for our patients for those who resuscitate frequently. I will describe some tweaks to the way CPR, defibrillation, and medications are delivered in the arrests I manage. Read more →
Patients 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 →