September 16, 2020

Take Home Points

  • Wernicke encephalopathy is characterized by ataxia, altered mental status and ophthalmoplegia but patients are unlikely to have all these components
  • Suspect Wernicke encephalopathy in any patient that is at risk of malnutrition or malabsorption and has any one of the classic symptoms
  • Prophylactic administration of thiamine 100 mg IV/IM to at risk patients can prevent development of the disease
  • Once Wernicke encephalopathy has developed, it must be treated with high-dose, IV thiamine

September 14, 2020

Background: Though it’s been stated numerous times on this blog, it bears repeating: the pillars of sepsis care remain early identification of sepsis, early appropriate empiric antibiotics, source control, and supportive care. The focus should be on getting the basics right but, it is important to evaluate whether other adjunctive therapies can help decrease mortality in a common and frequently fatal condition. Ascorbic acid and thiamine deficiency have been described in patients with sepsis and are thought to be due to reduced intake and increased metabolic demands.  Corticosteroids have had mixed results but seem to improve shock reversal in patients with septic shock based on best available evidence (Link is HERE). There have been a slew of RCTs evaluating this metabolic cocktail (vitamin C, thiamine, & corticosteroids) in recent months. Though biologically plausible, this treatment approach has not been shown to improve patient-oriented outcomes.

September 7, 2017

Background: Alcoholism is a chronic disease with a staggering impact on society, costing the nation approximately 100 billion dollars per year, an expenditure greater than the costs associated with all cancers and respiratory diseases combined (Whiteman 2000). Large public hospital emergency department studies have demonstrated the enormous strain of alcohol use on resources, and the disproportionate burden that the care of the alcohol abusing patient places on the emergency medical system and the ED (Zook 1980). In one observational cohort, 24% of adult patients brought to the ED by ambulance were determined to likely suffer from alcoholism, further underscoring the tremendous frequency of this disease (Whiteman 2000).
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