July 23, 2020

Background: Trauma remains the leading cause of death in the United States for those aged less than 45 years old. Those who arrest from hemorrhage or other traumatic mechanism often carry a very poor prognosis. Various studies have placed the survival from blunt traumatic arrest at <10%. Much is dependent however on the systems approach to managing these patients – for example those patients who have very rapid access to surgical resuscitative techniques may have better outcomes. Nevertheless, given the typical young age of these victims, a significant effort is often made at resuscitation. This must be balanced with the potential risks to clinical staff, appropriate use of limited resources, and expected quality of life of survivors. To be able to predict better outcomes would be of use both in the prehospital and in-hospital environments.

February 24, 2020

Background: Critical illness and ICU admission comes with significant consequences – not just from the primary pathology but also from the secondary effects of therapies that may be begun to correct the abnormal physiology. One of these consequences in ventilated patients is the development of stress ulcers in the gastrointestinal tract, leading to bleeding. Over two-thirds of patients admitted to the ICU will be prescribed some form of stress ulcer prophylaxis, often in the form of either a proton pump inhibitor (PPI) or a histamine-2 receptor blocker (H2RB)1. But which one is better? Are there any risks? The existing evidence of benefit of one over another is limited. Though one systematic review did show a benefit of PPIs, the reviewed data was limited2. Neither drug is without risk either. These include a potential for immunosuppression and increased risk of infections3. More evidence is needed – which is where the Proton Pump Inhibitors vs Histamine-2 Receptor Blockers for Ulcer Prophylaxis Treatment in the Intensive Care Unit (PEPTIC) randomized clinical trial comes in4.

June 10, 2019

Airway management as the first priority has been the backbone of resuscitation for years. “Address A first, before moving to B and C,” is what we are taught and what we go on to teach successive generations of learners. For appropriately trained clinical teams, either in- or prehospital, the completion of “A” may well mean performing a rapid sequence intubation (RSI) From its inception in the 1970s, there has been continued evolution in how we approach RSI (and airway management in general) in the physiologically threatened patient – this post will focus on the trauma patient. You can revisit some really well-done blogs and podcasts over the last few years that have highlighted various approaches to prevent peri- and post-intubation problems. Like cardiac arrest.

April 18, 2019

Every now and again someone raises the issue on social media about resuscitative thoracotomy.  What are the indications (we have the EAST guidelines for that), what are the risks (highlighted in this important recent paper), and of course, whether EM or surgery should be doing it in the trauma bay (guess what – it’s in the curriculum for both specialties). That’s not the point of this post.  This post is about how I think you, as the emergency medicine physician (EP), working in a system where your surgeon is not in-house, but is available in a reasonable amount of time, should proceed when faced with the patient who meets the indications.  You’ve gone through your HOTTT(T) algorithm and are now at that final “T” – you have to open the chest.