March 8, 2018

Mechanical Ventilation is a modality commonly used in the critically ill, but many providers, may not have a strong understanding of the basics. Emergency Medicine and Critical Care Physicians need to have a firm grasp of the basic concepts of mechanical ventilation because without it, we can do serious harm to our patients. Airway management is not complete once the endotracheal tube is placed through the cords, and the proper selection of both the ventilator mode and initial settings is essential to ensure your patient has the best possible outcomes. You should not simply rely on the respiratory therapist to know your patients physiology. Clear communication with your therapist about the patient’s physiology and initial ventilator setting is crucial.

August 28, 2017

Background: As I walk to the bedside to re-examine my patient with refractory hypotension, I start thinking what else can I do? My patient came into the hospital with septic shock secondary community acquired pneumonia requiring me to intubate her due to impending respiratory failure. I subsequently placed a central venous catheter and an arterial line as I carefully volume resuscitated her.  I turned up her tidal volume momentarily on the ventilator to assess for pulse pressure and stroke volume variation, did a bedside echo, and attempted a passive leg raise, but it appears that she is volume replete. I started a norepinephrine infusion, and as the dose escalated, I added a vasopressin infusion, but she still remains hypotensive even after giving her stress dose steroids. As I contemplate my next move I am haunted by her bedside monitor alarming; MAP 50 mm Hg. What’s my next move?

January 5, 2017

Background: Anyone who has run a code, knows that pulseless electrical activity (PEA) during cardiac arrest has a worse prognosis compared to patients with shockable rhythms.  In patients with suspected massive PE as the cause of their cardiac arrest the Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) and American Heart Association (AHA) guidelines do recommend consideration of thrombolytics.  There is however, no uniform consensus on the type, dose, duration, timing, or method of administration.  The current study (PEAPETT Trial) was an attempt to do exactly that.

December 15, 2016

Background: The American Heart Association/American College of Cardiology (AHA/ACC) give a Class I recommendation for activation of the cardiac catheterization lab in patients with out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) whom ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) is present.  The evidence for early cardiac catheterization in patients after cardiac arrest, with ROSC and no STEMI is a bit more controversial.  The most recent 2015 AHA/ACC guidelines recommend, “it may be reasonable,” to perform an emergent cardiac catheterization in select patients without STEMI.

December 8, 2016

Background: For many emergency providers, POCUS has become a critical modality in the resuscitation of patients with cardiac arrest. The authors of this paper (The REASON Trial) state that <8% of all OHCA’s survive to hospital discharge; a dismal number.  We already know that shockable rhythms, early defibrillation, early bystander CPR, and ROSC in the field are all associated with increased survival. What we don’t have is large scale evidence that the use of POCUS improves survival with good neurologic outcomes.