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.

June 17, 2019

Mechanical Ventilation is a modality commonly used in the critically ill, but many providers, may not have a strong understanding of the basics of mechanical ventilation. 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.

June 6, 2019

Mechanical Ventilation is a modality commonly used in the critically ill, but many providers, may not have a strong understanding of the basics of mechanical ventilation. 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.

June 22, 2018

Obstructive Physiology: Setting up the ventilator for a patient with severe obstructive physiology like asthma or COPD is almost a completely opposite strategy compared to the patient with severe metabolic acidosis. They both have problems with ventilation (removal of carbon dioxide), but for the patient with obstructive disease it takes a very long time to expire due to inflammation and bronchoconstriction.  Instead of setting a high respiratory rate to blow off more CO2 like our severe metabolic acidosis patient, here, you want to set a low respiratory rate to give your patient time to empty more effectively.

June 18, 2018

Before I set up the ventilator, I consider if my patient has one of the following 3 physiologic processes: severe metabolic acidosis, an obstructive process (Asthma or COPD), or refractory hypoxemia. If my patient doesn't fit into one of these 3 categories then I will default to placing them in the refractory hypoxemia category (Part 5), which is simply a lung protective strategy that will be appropriate for patients. In this part we will discuss setting up your ventilator for the patient with a severe metabolic acidosis.
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