About Bryan D. Hayes, PharmD, DABAT, FAACT, FASHP

Leadership Team, ALiEM
Creator and Lead Editor, Capsules series, ALiEMU
Attending Pharmacist, EM and Toxicology, MGH
Assistant Professor of EM, Harvard Medical School

Introducing the New ALiEMU Capsules Series

We are excited and proud to introduce a new series as part of the recently announced ALiEMUCapsules: Practical Pharmacology for the EM Practitioner.

The Capsules series’ primary focus is bringing Emergency Medicine pharmacology education to the bedside. Our expert team distills complex pharmacology principles into easy-to-apply concepts. It’s our version of what-you-need-to-know as an EM practitioner. We hope you enjoy it.

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Ketamine for Excited Delirium Syndrome

Delirium canstockphoto11866731Excited delirium syndrome is defined as “a syndrome of uncertain etiology characterized by delirium, agitation, and hyperadrenergic autonomic dysfunction”.1 You may have encountered a patient like this in the ED or prehospital setting. Although the etiology is impossible to determine in many cases, stimulant abuse and other drugs are involved in a majority of cases. An 8% mortality has been ascribed to Excited Delirium Syndrome, resulting from hyperthermia, severe metabolic acidosis, and cardiovascular collapse.

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Hyperkalemia Management: Preventing Hypoglycemia From Insulin

InsulinInsulin remains one of the cornerstones of early severe hyperkalemia management. Insulin works via a complex process to temporarily shift potassium intracellularly. Though insulin certainly lowers plasma potassium concentrations, we often underestimate the hypoglycemic potential of a 10 unit IV insulin dose in this setting. The purpose of this post is to highlight the need for proper supplemental glucose and blood glucose monitoring when treating hyperkalemia with insulin.

This is such an important medication safety issue, the Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP) highlighted it in a February 2018 Safety Alert.

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The Art of Syringe Labeling in the ED

MedicationSyringeDrawThe ‘look-alike, sound-alike’ nature of many drug appearances and names is problematic. In high-stress environments such as the Emergency Department (ED), potential disasters can arise if “drug swap” or other medication errors occur. Drug swap is the accidental injection of the wrong drug.1 The anesthesiology literature contains several published reports presenting various ideas on how to properly label syringes used in the operating room to reduce medication errors. Techniques include color-coding the labels,2 labeling of the plunger,3 double-labeling,4,5 and specific placement of the labels on the syringe.6

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Sulfamethoxazole-Trimethoprim for Skin and Soft Tissue Infections: 1 or 2 Tablets BID?

bactrimThe 2014 Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Skin and Soft Tissue Infections (SSTI) recommend sulfamethoxazole-trimethoprim (SMX-TMP) for purulent infections where methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) is a likely pathogen. 1 But, what dose of SMX-TMP should we be prescribing? Both the SSTI and MRSA guidelines say 1-2 double strength tablets twice a day. 1,2  So, which is it, 1 tablet or 2?

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The Training of an EM Pharmacist

Pills3dAt the 2014 American College of Emergency Physicians Scientific Assembly, ACEP passed Resolution 44, officially recognizing Emergency Medicine Pharmacists as valuable members of the EM team. Nadia Awad (@Nadia_EMPharmD) summarized the importance of the resolution’s passage on the EMPharmD blog. The role of an EM Pharmacist has been outlined by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). In addition, Zlatan Coralic (@ZEDPharm), one of ALiEM’s regular contributors, framed the EM Pharmacist as the ‘ultimate consult service.’ The intent behind this post is not to discuss the role of the EM Pharmacist, but to highlight the rigorous training process through which most EM Pharmacists have traversed to work in this amazing specialty.

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