May 25, 2020

“You’re working a shift in whatever the lower acuity version is of your department. So maybe it’s fast track, maybe you call it an urgent care. Whatever it is, it’s a unit where they take doctors, who trained for 7 or 8 years to become expert resuscitationists, and make us spend all day seeing sniffles, sore throats and chronic back pain in a manner that I can only assume was designed specifically to make us all exceptionally crazy. But, either way: that’s where you’re working. You’ve taken care of a young woman, you’ve treated her ailments, you’ve decided what’s wrong with her. And you’re deciding you are going to prescribe a few medications for her and send her on her way. You’ve answered all of her questions and you are walking out the door, your hand is on the door handle and she says “Oh, but doc, did I tell you I’m currently breastfeeding my 6-month old baby? Can I even take these medications?” And your heart stops. And you freeze. And your hand is still on the door handle. And the first thought that goes through your head is “Oh my God, I have no idea.” Because you, like most of us, had one lecture on medications in pregnancy and lactation back in your second year of medical school and you have no idea what you learned. That’s your first thought. “Oh my god, I have no idea.” Your second thought is “Oh my god, I have 8 more patients that just got triaged, while I had that thought. What am I gonna do?” Your third thought then is that you breathe a sigh of relief and you go “It’s ok, I’ve got an ED pharmacist. I’ll just ask her.” But then you’re horrified again because you realized it’s Saturday! And while you work in a 24/7/365 emergency department, your department has decided to staff this one crucial member for just business hours from Monday through Friday. And you think “That’s terrible.” And now you’re back to horror. Because, again, you don’t know what to do. And another 8 patients have been triaged and they all have chronic back pain and they’re asking why they haven’t been seen yet. And you’re still in that room and your hand is still on the door. Now you think “I don’t know. I don’t know.” “Honestly lady, I don’t know, you probably should just pump and dump.” Out of an abundance of caution we always just revert back to “You should pump and dump.” But I’m going to argue that that’s probably not the best strategy.”

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 13, 2020

Chronic sleep deprivation can affect health, performance, and safety.  There are many causes of sleep deprivation including stresses of daily life, shift work, and unrecognized sleep disorders.  In this talk from Rebellion in EM 2019, Arlene Chung, MD, facts about sleep deprivation, strategies to decrease sleep deprivation for shift workers, and reviews policy statements from the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP).

March 16, 2020

Traditionally, endotracheal intubation has been the gold standard for airway management in cardiac arrest. However, more recent data suggests that maybe less is more (i.e. supraglottic airways and/or bag valve mask ventilation).  The AHA guidelines have also de-emphasized airway management as the old acronym of ABC's has now been changed to CAB's.  In this talk from Rebellion in EM 2019, Dr. Chris Hicks, MD discusses the optimal airway management in OHCA.

February 27, 2020

A 57-year-old man is watching his son’s baseball game when he suddenly collapses. Witnesses did not appreciate a pulse, so they started CPR. Unfortunately, an AED was not available. EMS was called and when they arrived within minutes the patient was found to be in vfib arrest and was defibrillated. When the patient arrived to the hospital, he was in PEA arrest. Ultrasound of the patient’s heart showed some coordinated cardiac activity. ACLS doesn’t really tell us how to proceed with cardiac activity but not enough to generate a pulse on the monitor.
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