February 26, 2020

Take Home Points 
  • No palpable pulse does not equal no perfusion. We aren't great at feeling pulses
  • Patients with moderate to severe signs and symptoms of lithium toxicity should be considered for hemodialysis
  • Always consider serious causes of back pain before simply treating with analgesics
  • Consider trauma as well as other toxic exposures (I.e. CO and CN) in patients with major burns

January 23, 2020

Background: The role of the ED physician in helping stop the opioid epidemic is three-fold: safe prescribing practices, beginning suboxone administration in the ED as part of an ED/Community Suboxone program, and providing Narcan prescriptions to at risk patients. Most ED physicians are not doing the latter two.

December 19, 2019

Background: E-cigarettes or “vapes” are now the most popular tobacco product among US teens and are used by 20% of all high-schoolers2. Vapes are used to heat and vaporize a liquid (e-juice or vape juice) that may contain nicotine, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabidiol (CBD), or ultraconcentrated THC resin (hash oil, wax, or dabs.)3. Since their introduction, vaping devices have been studied for the numerous potentially harmful chemicals they can introduce into users, including: heavy metals (cadmium, nickel, lead), plastic-related toxic gases (like cyanide and phosgene), volatile organic compounds, ultrafine particles, and diacetyl flavoring (linked to a chronic pulmonary syndrome known as ‘popcorn lung,’ which is not as appealing as it sounds)4. More recently, a spectrum of lung illnesses related to vaping have become the focus of a national public health investigation. These cases have been described in almost every US state since early summer 2019; as of November 2019, there have been over 2000 cases of ‘Vaping-Associated Lung Injury’ (VALI) reported to the CDC, with 42 associated deaths. The article discussed below is a large case series from the Midwest depicting the clinical characteristics and outcomes of patients with VALI from April to August 2019.  Since then, several more epidemiological and analytical investigations have been published, and studies are ongoing to clarify the causes and best treatments for this disorder. We chose this article for REBEL EM because it represents a well-done early investigation of an emerging epidemic which contributed valuable clinical insights for emergency medicine practice.

September 12, 2019


  • Tramadol is a centrally acting synthetic opioid analgesic approved for use in the United States in 1995 by the Food and Drug Administration.
  • In 2014, the Drug Enforcement Agency classified tramadol as a Schedule IV controlled substance.
  • ~41 million prescriptions for tramadol were dispensed in the United States in 2017.

August 5, 2019

Background Information: Non-steroidal Inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as Ibuprofen are of the one of the most commonly used oral analgesics in the emergency department. 1 These medications work by inhibiting the enzymes cyclooxygenase-1 (COX-1) and cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2). These are two enzymes which lead to prostaglandin production and ultimately promote pain, fever and inflammation. Prostaglandins also serve to line the stomach epithelium and protect it from the digestive acids. The COX-1 enzyme also plays a role in platelet activation through the production of Thrombaxane-2. Understanding the physiology behind these important enzymes helps us better anticipate the expected adverse effects that may occur when prescribing NSAIDs, especially at higher doses or over an extended period of time. Due to its linear kinetic effects, higher doses of ibuprofen results in longer duration of analgesia and not necessarily more effective pain control. 3, 4 The authors of this study sought to identify the analgesic effects of three different doses of ibuprofen. Furthermore, they hypothesized that a lower dose had comparable analgesic effects when compared to higher doses.