May 31, 2020

I am fortunate to work in a hospital system that is very forward thinking.  We have a phenomenal relationship with our intensivists, and I have been fortunate enough to have several discussions with them about how we are managing COVID-19 in our ICUs.  For full transparency, I don’t work up in the ICU, but had the opportunity to discuss what we are doing in our ICUs with one of our intensivists (ECMO, steroids, Remdesivir, etc...).  We are doing something different in San Antonio that I thought was worth discussing on this podcast that may be a feasible option for some institutions and some patients, but not all. If there is one thing this disease has taught me, that is one size does not fit all.

May 30, 2020

Background: One of the hot topics in COVID-19 care is the mortality rate associated with invasive mechanical ventilation (IMV). There have been early reports of IMV having mortality rates ranging from 50 to 90%.  These high rates are concerning but, context is important; many of the reports emerged from areas with large surges where hospital systems were overwhelmed. Additional data looking at outcomes of critical patients is important particularly within systems that were able to maintain baseline critical care provisions despite surges.

May 26, 2020

Background: The saga of Remdesivir for treatment of COVID-19 continues. We previously covered two studies of this drug on REBEL EM (Link is HERE & Link is HERE). One trial (≈200pts) showed no difference in the primary outcome of median time to clinical improvement and the second trial was a compassionate release study which gave us no real clinical information due to its design. A third study was mentioned in the first post from the NIAID, but we didn’t really review it, as much as mention it, as no data was made available.  It was a little teaser from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). Despite these facts the FDA approved remdesivir for use and we have had no robust data supporting its use except for the tease of the NIAID study.  Part 1 of the NIAID trial was just published in the NEJM as a preliminary report and we will review here on this post: Remdesivir ACTT-1.

May 24, 2020

This publication has now been retracted by Lancet (June 4, 2020) Background: There is no conclusive evidence that chloroquine, or its derivative hydroxychloroquine, with or without a second-generation macrolide is effective in COVID-19 treatment or prophylaxis. Laboratory studies have shown antiviral and immunomodulatory properties in vitro. The small retrospective observational trials thus far have had mixed results in efficacy.  However, these medications are well known to have cardiovascular adverse effects via QT interval prolongation leading to ventricular arrhythmias. Despite the potential harms and the absence of convincing data to support treatment with these drugs, they are widely prescribed to COVID-19 patients.

May 23, 2020

Disclaimer: This post explores some of the pathophysiologic findings in severe SARS-CoV-2 infection. It explores possible mechanisms-based and posits theories BUT, this is not a clinical post. The hypothesis and findings here are not confirmed and extrapolation to management is unclear. Understanding of the mechanisms of COVID-19 is badly needed if we are to find treatments that may be beneficial. The leading cause of mortality in patients with COVID-19 is hypoxemic respiratory failure most frequently resulting in ARDS.  However, the mechanisms that bring patients from infection to ARDS are unknown:  is it diffuse alveolar damage (DAD), endothelial damage, or some combination of both? Although it may seem ridiculous to consider these two entities as separate, as the alveolar-capillary interface is submicrons in size, we want to know if one of these two entities is driving the injury more than the other? There have been some interesting pathological reports that have been published looking at the histopathology of COVID-19, and many more discussions about the similarities to other viral pneumonias (i.e. H1N1). A recent publication in NEJM compares the pathology of COVID-19 vs H1N1.
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