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.

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

November 26, 2018

Background Information: Delirium is defined as an acute disorder of consciousness which can occur in up to 80% of mechanically ventilated ICU patients.1-5 This acute cognitive dysfunction is associated with prolonged hospital stay, increased mortality, longer periods of mechanical ventilation and long-term cognitive impairment compared to patients without delirium.4-8  Haloperidol, remains one of the most commonly used typical antipsychotics used to treat delirium internationally and within the United States.9,10 The Society of Critical Care Medicine’s recent guidelines do not suggest the use of Haloperidol in the prevention or treatment of delirium11 and understandably so as two randomized trials showed no reduction in duration of ICU delirium.5,12 Alternative therapies for delirium include atypical antipsychotics such as ziprasidone, however the literature shows conflicting evidence, with one study showing a benefit and another showing no effect.5,13 The authors of this study sought to examine the effects of these two treatments in a large multicenter, randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial.      

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.

September 10, 2018

During a busy resuscitation it behooves the ED resuscitationist to avoid ordering therapies that have no clear benefit to their patients. Our nurses are overburdened, and adding interventions ‘just to be safe’ or ‘because we always do it’ is a great way to overwhelm our nursing colleagues. Bicarb administration is a contentious issue and many clinicians consider its use to fall firmly into the no-benefit camp, even when used in the management of severe metabolic acidosis. There have been no studies to date evaluating clinical outcomes  with the use of  sodium bicarbonate infusion therapy for severe metabolic acidemia, until now.  This post is a review of the recently published BICAR-ICU trial