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.

March 14, 2019

Background: Chest pain is a complaint commonly seen in the emergency department.  Getting a good history is an essential part of working up patients with chest pain, as the history may guide us to be concerned for the cause of life-threatening chest pain including, pulmonary embolism, aortic dissection, tension pneumothorax, or acute coronary syndrome. In regard to acute coronary syndrome, many of us learned that the classic description of ischemic chest pain was chest pressure radiating to the left arm.  But as sometimes is the case, classic teachings are based on antiquated evidence and simply not correct.

March 11, 2019

Background: Based on the Surviving Sepsis Campaign, hemodynamic resuscitation of sepsis patients is done by repeating serum lactic acid levels every 2 – 4 hours until normalization. The issue with this strategy is that there are other things that may elevate lactate levels other than sepsis and hypoperfusion.  Another, potentially useful marker to guide hemodynamic resuscitation could be capillary refill time.  Its easy-to-use, requires no resources, and costs nothing.  To answer this question the ANDROMEDA-SHOCK randomized controlled trial tried to evaluate the use of a peripheral perfusion-targeted resuscitation strategy during septic shock in adults.

March 7, 2019

Background: 1st trimester vaginal bleeding and abdominal pain is a common complaint seen in the ED.  As EM physicians it is important to make the diagnosis of ectopic pregnancy early in the clinical course as it can prevent rupture, difficulty with future fertility, and even death.  Typically, when non-ruptured, hemodynamically stable, ectopic pregnancy is diagnosed, our Ob/Gyn colleagues get consulted and the usual first-line treatment is methotrexate initiated in the ED with 24 - 72hours follow-up in an ideal world. Unfortunately, this does not always happen, and some patients will return to the ED for increased pain. It is important to be aware of methotrexate outcomes and have suspicion for failure of methotrexate in patients returning to the ED.

March 6, 2019

Take Home Points:

  1. If the patient is a clear traumatic arrest, compressions aren’t indicated and, instead we should focus on the important interventions that need to be done.
  2. Ultrasound can be incredibly helpful in traumatic arrest. If you’ve got a traumatic arrest patient with neither pericardial fluid nor cardiac activity, it may be reasonable to stop resuscitation without the thoracotomy.
  3. When decompressing the chest, it’s better to place you angiocath in the 5th intercostal space in the anterior axillary line. This helps you avoid the great vessels in the as well as the thick anterior chest wall
  4. And last, if you are doing a thoracostomy, you may as well go bilaterally. You are doing invasive things to a dying patient, there is no reason to guess where the problem is. Similarly, if you have to do a thoracotomy, you could consider making it a clamshell as it space to look into and making sure the right side of the chest is accessed.