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 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.

February 28, 2019

Background: Standard management of septic shock has included, IV fluids until optimal intravascular volume is achieved, appropriate early antibiotics, and source control.  Typically, only after all these measures have been undertaken is vasopressor infusion initiated if a MAP of ≥65mmHg is not achieved. There have been some animal and human studies that have advocated for early norepinephrine administration in septic shock improving hemodynamics and mortality.  The issue, with these trials is that they were retrospective which means these studies suffer from the limitations of this type of methodology (i.e. convenience sampling, recall bias, confounding, and ultimately cannot determine causation, only association).

January 7, 2019

Background: Stress related gastrointestinal mucosal damage is a commonly encountered problem in the critically ill patients admitted to the intensive care unit. The incidence ranges from 0.6-7% and is decreasing partly due to aggressive resuscitation strategies and focus on early enteral feeding1. Damage to the mucosal integrity occurs in conditions associated with increased inflammation and reduced mucosal perfusion 2. Despite its decreasing incidence, stress related GI bleed remains a major challenge for the intensivist with many studies showing increase in mortality and ICU length of stay in these patients3. Stress ulcer prophylaxis is recommended for critically ill patients at risk for GI bleed; the major risk factors include need for prolonged mechanical ventilation, coagulopathy, hepatic and renal failure. There is high quality evidence supporting the use of H2 receptor antagonists (H2RA) and proton pump inhibitors (PPI) in these patients. Many international surveys show that PPIs are currently preferred for acid suppression4. Though many randomized controlled trials support the use of PPI over other acid suppressants, there is clearly no recommendation regarding benefits of one group over the other. Alhazzani et al5recently published a network meta-analysis of 57 trials enrolling over 7000 patients that showed moderate quality evidence that PPIs are more effective than H2 blockers, sucralfate or placebo in preventing clinically significant GI bleed though there is a possible increase in risk for pneumonia with similar mortality. Another meta-analysis by Alshamsi et al showed that PPIs were more effective than H2RAs in reducing the risk of clinically important GI bleeding and overt GI bleeding without a significant increase in risk for pneumonia, mortality and ICU length of stay6 Furthermore, there is growing concern that acid suppression predisposes patients to increased risk for nosocomial infections like pneumonia and Clostridium difficile as well as cardiovascular events. This was demonstrated in a few randomized clinical trials as well as a few observational studies7,8. The authors of the current study aimed to evaluate the benefits and adverse events associated with the use of pantoprazole for stress ulcer prophylaxis in patients at risk for gastrointestinal bleeding9

October 15, 2018

If you mainly treat adults or both adults and children like me, then you have probably heard the (very annoying) quote, “kids are not just small adults”, and so I won’t say it again. Well, I guess I just did, but at least I wont stop at this quote, but attempt to explain how kids are not small adults, and how this may impact their care in the emergency department and the intensive care unit. Nearly all organ systems of young children are immature and developing throughout childhood and on into adulthood, including the cardiovascular system. Without a basic understanding of the key physiologic differences, the emergency and intensive care physicians will be ill equipped to care for the critical ill child. To understand how kids with shock present differently than adults, it’s important to discuss a few basic differences regarding intravascular volume and cardiovascular system in children especially neonates and infants (1-24 months of age). Also remember shock is defined the exact same way as it would be in adults even though the presentation and underlying physiology may differ. Shock is simply a state where tissue/organ blood flow is inadequate to meet tissue/organ metabolic demands.