February 25, 2021

Background: Opioid-related emergency department visits have been increasing over the past two decades in correlation with increasing rates of heroin use in the United States. Naloxone, which is used to reverse heroin overdose, has a half-life of approximately 60 to 90 minutes (2). A 4 to 6 hour observation period after naloxone reversal has typically been recommended to account for a duration of 5 half-lives of naloxone, and Goldfrank’s Toxicologic Emergencies recommends several hours of observation following naloxone reversal of heroin overdose (2). Systematic reviews have recommended as low as a 1-hour observation period (3). However, early discharge may be dangerous given both the short half-life of naloxone and the possibility that the purported heroin may have been adulterated or may have been another substance entirely, such as fentanyl analogs. This study attempted to determine the safety of a 2-hour observation period after naloxone administration for heroin overdose, which was chosen based on the half-life of naloxone.

October 1, 2020

Background information: There are two popular blade shapes for video laryngoscopy, a standard-geometry blade comparable to a Macintosh blade and a hyperangulated blade. The standard-geometry blade permits both direct and indirect visualization during intubation, whereas the hyperangulated blade permits only indirect visualization. The hyperangulated blade is used with a rigid stylet, whereas the standard-geometry blade allows the use of a bougie if indicated. Proposed benefits of the hyperangulated blade include decreasing the need for head and neck manipulation. Previous research includes an observational study using emergency department data that compared the two blade shapes found no association between blade geometry and first-attempt success rates (Moiser et al.), but this was a single-center study with only 463 patients. Previous unadjusted data from the registry used in the current study by Driver et al. found that standard-geometry video laryngoscopy had a higher first-attempt success rate than video laryngoscopy using the hyperangulated blade (91 percent versus 80 percent, n=1,644) based on data from 2002 through 2012 (Brown et al.).

April 23, 2020

Background: Electronic cigarette use, or vaping, has been rising in popularity in the United States. Electronic cigarette use has been associated with respiratory symptoms that have collectively been labeled e-cigarette or vaping product use-associated lung injury (EVALI). In a recent study of mass spectrometry of bronchoalveolar lavage samples, Vitamin E acetate was found in 94% of cases in the EVALI group and was not present in the comparison group [2]. Per the CDC data, the number of hospitalized cases peaked in August and September of 2019. Due to identifying the likely etiology of the lung injury, vitamin E acetate, there has been increased regulation and a subsequent decrease in cases; however, vaping-associated lung injury remains in the potential differential diagnosis for patients presenting to the emergency department with unexplained respiratory symptoms.

January 6, 2020

Background: Although the standard positioning for intubation is supine in the sniffing position, there has been recent literature in the past decade that elevating the head of the bed to 25 to 30 degrees may be a preferable setup for direct laryngoscopy due to improved laryngeal view and reduced airway complications. These studies have been conducted in multiple settings and patient populations including the prehospital setting, the emergency department, and the operating room (for elective cases). Additionally, video-assisted laryngoscopy has been a relatively recent innovation in airway management: the first video laryngoscope produced commercially became available in 2001. Similarly, this technology has been studied in multiple settings including in the emergency department and in the operating room. Both head-elevated direct laryngoscopy and video-assisted laryngoscopy have been studied with a variety of outcomes including first-pass success rate, time to intubation, and mortality rates. However, despite video-assisted laryngoscopy becoming increasingly ubiquitous, its limitations include a high cost and the possibility of components becoming damaged. Both of these innovations in intubation—video-assisted laryngoscopy and elevating the head of the bed—remain debated within the field of emergency medicine.

September 30, 2019

Background: Chest pain is a common chief complaint the Emergency Department, and the differential diagnosis includes life-threatening conditions from several organ systems including cardiac, pulmonary, and gastrointestinal, in addition to more benign etiologies. Historically, despite most patients not having acute coronary syndrome, there is still a high rate of medical admissions in patients with chest pain. The advent of accelerated diagnostic protocols has aided in guiding clinicians with decision making and disposition of these patients. This study aimed to address the question of whether or not an emergency medicine physician’s clinical gestalt would be sufficient to rule in or rule out acute coronary syndrome (ACS). Several studies have addressed this question with conflicting results. Given the high morbidity and mortality of acute coronary syndrome, emergency medicine physicians focus their clinical decision making on decreasing type II errors, i.e., false negatives. In clinical practice, this means having a low rule-out rate based on physician gestalt; in other words, most patients with chest pain presenting to the Emergency Department will have testing including an EKG and troponin level even for patients for whom the physicians have a low clinical suspicion for ACS.