May 9, 2019

Background Information: The sequential administration of a sedative and neuromuscular blocking agent (NMBA) to facilitate the passage of an endotracheal tube is a common method of intubating in both the emergency department (ED) and intensive care unit (ICU). In fact, 85% of ED intubation and 75% of ICU intubations are performed using RSI. 1 It has been shown that the NMBA not only provides muscle relaxation to improve laryngeal view but has also reduced intubation associated complications, ultimately improving the likelihood of intubation success.2-4 While the early use of a sedative leads to hypoventilation and apnea, the patient has an increased risk of hypoxemia and delaying optimal intubation conditions.1 Use of an NMBA was associated with a lower prevalence of hypoxemia, however the order of its administration before the sedative remains controversial for fear of patient awareness and its use has been limited to the operating room (OR) setting. 1,2 The authors of this study sought to identify whether the order of RSI drugs was associated with increased apnea time during intubation. They defined this interval as the time elapsed from administration of the first RSI drug to the end of a successful first intubation attempt.

January 31, 2019

Background Information: The successful placement of an endotracheal tube (ETT) is a necessary skill all emergency physicians must possess. Performing life-saving interventions are understandably stressful as their failure can lead to morbid consequences and expedited patient death.1,2 The intensive training of emergency physicians, the availability of multiple alternative airway adjuncts and the use of rapid-sequence intubation has helped reduce the intubation complication rate among trauma and medical patients.3-5 Confirmatory methods to ensure the placement of the endotracheal tube are ever changing with no single method being infallible.6. Physical exam findings such as auscultation of the chest and epigastrium, visualization of thoracic movement and fogging of the ETT are not sufficiently reliable to confirm placement.7,8 The use of end-tidal CO2 detection has been shown to have a cumulative false-positive and false-negative failure rate of 10% in accurately confirming the ETT’s location according to the authors of this paper (The paper referenced is a bit dated)­.6 Furthermore, the usage of these devices may contribute to the complications as they frequently require up to 5 ventilations to obtain an accurate reading.9-11 This puts the patient at risk for aspiration especially if the tube is in the esophagus. No.12 Despite a post-intubation CXR taking time, exposing the patient to more radiation and adding to the cost of treatment, it still continues to remain the standard of care.12-14  The authors of this study wished to better understand the test characteristics of utilizing ultrasound to confirm ETT placement. They conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis to quantify the accuracy of this ETT confirmatory method.

January 21, 2019

Background Information: In 2017, more than two-thirds of the 70,000 drug overdose deaths in the United States involved an opioid.1 Many emergency departments are affected as opioid overdoses increased 30% from July 2016 through September 2017 in 52 areas in 45 states.2 With the half-life of naloxone being between 60-90 minutes the appropriate disposition and observation time of these patients following naloxone reversal continues to be debated in the literature.3,4, A study on heroin overdose patients treated and released by pre-hospital providers showed no deaths in the one-year period studied.5 While this only applies to isolated heroin use, other studies have shown no increased incidence of death within 48 hours of patients treated with naloxone for non-fentanyl opioid overdoses.6,7 Many of these studies, however, suffer from poor follow up which is unsurprising given the difficulty in tracking patients with opiate use disorders. It is important to note that the increased presence of synthetic and long-acting opioids further complicates this topic. A systematic review of a clinical prediction rule known as the St. Paul’s Early Discharge Rule, concluded that ambulatory patients with normal vital signs, and a Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) of 15 only needed 1 hour of observation prior to discharge.8,9 The authors of this study sought to validate this single center derived rule and its six criteria.

December 10, 2018

Background Information: Sepsis is a complex syndrome frequently encountered in the ED. This infection-triggered, multifaceted disorder of life-threatening organ dysfunction is due to the body’s dysregulated response to pathologic and biochemical abnormalities.2-4 There has been significant debate regarding the use of clinical decision tools such as Systemic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (SIRS) and quick Sepsis-related Organ Failure Assessment (qSOFA) in the early recognition of sepsis.2,5-7­ Multiple studies have shown SIRS to not be specific enough for the early detection of sepsis as many non-infectious processes, including exercise, can often meet many of its criteria.8-10 On the other hand, qSOFA has been criticized as having poor sensitivity and moderate specificity for short-term mortality.11,12 Furthermore, qSOFA  has been described as clinically valuable but an imperfect marker of sepsis as some forms of organ dysfunction, such as hypoxemia and renal failure, are not assessed using qSOFA.5 Another severity score known as the National Early Warning Score (NEWS) focuses on inpatient deterioration in detecting patients with increased risk of early cardiac arrest, unanticipated ICU admission and death.13 One study showed that utilization of NEWS in the emergency department (ED) has been shown to be effective in recognizing patients with sepsis who are at a higher risk of adverse outcomes.14  The authors of this study sought to review the use of NEWS as an early sepsis screening score, a predictor of severe sepsis/septic shock, and compare it to SIRS and qSOFA in an ED triage setting.