March 29, 2019

On the last day of the last SMACC conference, Dr. Ken Milne (The SGEM) and I had a cage match debating four critical care controversies. It was all done in good fun with both of us taking our opportunities to poke a little fun at each other. While we took a pro vs con approach to the presentation, our positions are much closer than the debate demonstrates. Although the literature is far from perfect, development of critical appraisal skills and application of evidence-based medicine to the literature is what we should be using to inform our care but not dictate our care. It is equally as important to incorporate clinical judgment and ask our patients what their values and preferences are before making decisions about care.

March 28, 2019

Pulse Checks Background: In an older study published in Resuscitation 1998 [1], ED physicians, ICU physicians, and nurses tried to identify a carotid pulse in a healthy male volunteer with normal blood pressure. 43.1% of the health professionals required >5 seconds to detect the carotid pulse and another 4.3% required >10 seconds.  Something I have advocated for in cardiac arrest is the death of pulse checks, as our fingers are poorly sensitive for detecting which patients have a pulse in a shock state.  A visible rhythm on the monitor, along with the absence of a pulse with digital palpation, does not always indicate the presence of true pulseless electrical activity (PEA).  Our reflexive action when we don’t feel a pulse is to begin CPR and give 1mg epinephrine which may not be beneficial in these patients.  Patients in profound shock don’t necessarily need cpr and 1mg of epinephrine, they need augmentation of cardiac output with either push dose pressors or hemodynamically driven epinephrine drips.  Now another study published in Resuscitation looked to compare the efficiency of cardiac ultrasonography (CUSG), doppler ultrasonography (DUSG) and manual pulse palpation to check the pulse in cardiac arrest patients [2].

March 25, 2019

Background: TXA is a synthetic lysine derivative that binds with the lysine site on plasminogen and inhibits fibrinolysis.  TXA is not a new drug. Studies from the late 1960s and early 1970s have shown reduced bleeding and need for transfusions in many surgical and medical settings.  Fast forward to today and we are finding all kinds of uses for TXA other than trauma including post-partum hemorrhage, epistaxis, hemoptysis, gastrointestinal hemorrhage, and many more.

March 23, 2019

The management of the critically hemorrhaging trauma patient has seen a large amount of change over last decade, from bringing care far forward to the field to early use of blood products to civilian translation and application tourniquets to name a few. The reality unfortunately is that there is still a subgroup of patients who continue to suffer early mortality from hemorrhage, primarily because they are bleeding in the torso.  This is particularly challenging for both prehospital and in-hospital clinicians to manage as these areas do not allow control through direct compression. Enter resuscitative endovascular balloon occlusion of the aorta (REBOA) – a technique that builds on principles from vascular surgery and sees the placement of a balloon catheter into the aorta via the femoral artery.  Acting as an internal tourniquet, it temporarily occludes flow to the bleeding vessel thus providing circulatory support and precious time to get the patient to definitive care. With the alternative being death from hemorrhage, REBOA came as a breath of fresh air – a minimally invasive means of achieving hemorrhage control in these extremely sick patients. There were innovators and early adopters and reports of fantastic saves – patients were surviving who would never have survived before. 

March 18, 2019

Background: With CMS core measures requiring timely use of antibiotics in patients with fever and suspected sepsis, many patients receive antibiotics up front that may ultimately end up having another non-bacterial etiology as the cause of their fever.  On the one hand overuse of antibiotics can increase bacterial resistance, healthcare costs, and potential side effects. On the other hand, withholding antibiotics from patients with bacterial infections can increase morbidity and mortality. The authors of this trial wanted to determine whether a procalcitonin-guided algorithm could be used to reduce antibiotic regimens in the ED.