May 28, 2020

Background Information:

Physicians have and continue to heavily contribute to the current opioid epidemic in the United States and Canada.1 Although much of the focus has been opioid prescriptions given to patients in the emergency department,2,3 not much attention has been paid to critically ill patients who survive to hospital discharge. The long-term sequelae of these opioids is concerningly overlooked especially when physicians utilize these medications as part of an “analgesia first” approach to sedating critically ill patients for the purposes of invasive mechanical ventilation (IMV).4 Previous observational studies in Canada found that approximately 85% of critically ill patients receiving IMV were exposed to opioids.1 Furthermore, the average daily opioid dosing for 2-7 days was 63 milligrams of morphine equivalent (MME), increasing to 106 MME per day for patients receiving IMV for greater than 7 days. The authors of this study performed a retrospective chart review of population-based data from Ontario Canada to investigate the frequency of new opioid initiation and persistent opioid use among critically ill patients who received mechanical ventilation. They compared this to patients who were hospitalized but not critically ill.

May 18, 2020

Background: Getting the basics right in all illness is vital. In sepsis, this means appropriate use of antibiotics, judicious fluid resuscitation, and early identification.  Vasopressor support is also essential in the sickest sepsis patients (i.e. septic shock). Should the metabolic cocktail (thiamine, vitamin C and hydrocrotisone) be part of that initial package? We’ve previously reviewed the key articles in this area: CITRIS-ALI, VITAMINS, and the original before and after Marik trial. Now we have our next RCT, the HYVCTTSSS trial. From a pathophysiologic standpoint, Vitamin C levels are thought to be low in critically ill patients with sepsis. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that prevents vascular endothelial damage and helps maintain microvascular integrity. Additionally, it is a cofactor for catecholamine synthesis which helps maintain vascular tone and cardiac output.  Glucocorticoids have been shown to reduce time to shock relief and length of ICU stay, but not mortality. The addition of thiamine can help promote oxalate decomposition, which reduces vitamin C metabolites from depositing and crystalizing in kidneys.  While these medications are cheap, the more important question is do they improve patient-oriented outcomes? The previous literature on whether this translates to patient oriented benefits has been mostly negative thus far.

May 11, 2020

“You’re in the emergency department, you have a patient who EMS has brought in from a nursing home…who’s excited? Right, nobody is. And they are brought in for a chief complaint of altered mental status. So they’re concerned about sepsis. This is your initial set of vital signs: febrile, tachycardic, hypotensive. And you’re looking at the patient and you’re looking at their Foley and it looks like somebody put oatmeal into it. You know for a fact that the probability is that they have a urinary tract infection is pretty high. So the next question is: do you do what you normally do, but add steroids?”

April 10, 2020

Airway Pressure Release Ventilation (APRV) is a mode of ventilation that allows spontaneous breathing throughout the ventilation cycle.  It is a time-cycled mode of ventilation between two levels of positive airway pressure with the main time on the high level and a shorter period of time during the expiratory release to facilitate ventilation. This may not be a mode of ventilation many ED physicians are comfortable and have experience with and in this podcast Frank Lodeserto, MD reviews how to setup, titrate, and wean patients on this mode of ventilation.

April 6, 2020

Background: Epinephrine remains a staple in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) in out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA).  However, the optimal dose, timing, and route of administration are still unknown.  Standard dosing of epinephrine is 1mg every 3 to 5 minutes via the intravenous (IV) or intraosseous (IO) route. IO lines are quicker to establish and have a higher first-attempt success rate compared to IV access. Rapid placement and ease of use minimizes delays for critical patients requiring quick access. The literature, although methodologically limited, is mixed about the use of IV vs IO access for epinephrine in OHCA.