About Moises Gallegos, MD MPH

Editor, ALiEM
Clinical Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine
Stanford University School of Medicine

ACEP E-QUAL Podcast: Buprenorphine After Opiate Overdose

Buprenorphine

The opiate epidemic continues to be a frontline issue for healthcare systems across the country. The American College of Physicians (ACEP) Emergency Quality (E-QUAL) Network, through its Opioid Initiative Goal, strives to promote the implementation of alternatives to opioids, improved opioid prescribing safety, and adoption of harm reduction strategies such as naloxone prescribing and medication-assisted therapies (MAT). In a two-part series of the ACEP E-QUAL Network Podcast, host Dr. Jason Woods discussed buprenorphine initiation after an opioid overdose in the Emergency Department (ED) with Dr. Andrew Herring, Associate Director of Research and Medical Director of the Substance Use Disorder Treatment Program at Highland Hospital in Alameda County California. Below are show notes reviewing basic concepts of buprenorphine and recommendations for dosing in the ED.

Where do I get a DEA X-waiver?

With the rising interest in MAT, several programs are beginning to provide increased access to training and certification. ACEP will be working in partnership with the Providers Clinical Support System to provide online training. Dates can be found here.

What do I need to know about buprenorphine?

Buprenorphine is a potent opioid that is used to treat pain and for MAT in opiate use disorder (OUD).

Buprenorphine is slow to bind opiate receptors but has a high enough affinity that it can outcompete other opiates like fentanyl and methadone, and can even outcompete naloxone.

Buprenorphine has a ceiling effect in analgesia and respiratory depression that makes cumulative and higher initial dosing relatively safe.

Who is buprenorphine right for?

Buprenorphine as MAT for OUD is intended for clear stories of an opiate overdose not complicated by additional medical or social factors.

The ideal patient is one that is beginning to experiencing withdrawal symptoms of mild to moderate severity following reversal with naloxone or due to absence of use. The patient should be awake and alert enough to participate in shared decision-making about the initiation of therapy.

It is best to initiate buprenorphine while patients are experiencing some degree of withdrawal so that the agonist effects produce a net-positive feeling, providing patients with a sense of relief and comfort likely to strengthen motivation for continued engagement.

Buprenorphine should not be given to patients who are already on methadone, as this could lead to worse withdrawal reactions. It should also be avoided in patients who appear “sick,” suggesting underlying metabolic or infectious processes, intoxication, or co-ingestion. It should not be used as primary therapy for severe withdrawal.

Although studies have demonstrated utility for validated scoring systems to assess withdrawal severity, it is sufficient to evaluate a patient’s overall clinical appearance and decide to treat based on gestalt.

What is the best dose to initiate buprenorphine treatment?

There is no single agreed-upon dosing regimen. Many X-waiver courses promote a “by-the-book” approach of 2-4 mg every 2 hours to a max of 8 mg on the day of initiation.

Taking into account that prescription medications and street drugs continue to increase in potency, however, starting with small doses may leave the patient continuing to feel symptomatic and discourage use. The goal of treatment should be to create a positive experience that will facilitate continued MAT.

Evolving dosing regimens recommend taking into account the patient’s level of use to determine an initial dose. Data supports that individuals are rather good about classifying themselves as light, medium, or heavy users.

  • Light user: 4 mg
  • Medium user: 8 mg
  • Heavy user: 16 mg

If the decision is made to start on the lower end, a commitment should be made to re-evaluate the patient 30 minutes after the first dose to determine the need for additional medication. Avoid leaving your patients suffering in continued withdrawal.

Remember, even though the patient may end up in a good place, the initial displacement of the opiate or reversal agent may inherently cause discomfort or pain as the opiate receptor is unbound.

What issues remain?

Improved reversal practices and more appropriate dosing of reversal agents will improve the patient experience as triggered withdrawal symptoms can be lessened in severity. There exists a large variability in the amount of naloxone given by pre-hospital and ED providers.

Interested in more of the ACEP-EQUAL Podcast?

Listen to more ACEP E-QUAL podcast episodes on the ALiEM Soundcloud account.

By |2020-12-11T13:44:41-08:00Dec 18, 2020|Academic, ACEP E-QUAL|

ACEP E-QUAL: ACEP Non-STEMI Clinical Policy

Clinical Policy

In 2018, the American College of Physicians (ACEP) released a Clinical Policy with management recommendations for patients presenting to the emergency department (ED) with concern for non-ST-elevation myocardial infarction (NSTEMI). Dr. Jason Woods hosted an episode of the ACEP E-QUAL Network podcast highlighting key aspects of the new policy. Dr. Woods was joined by lead writer Dr. Christian Tomaszewski from the University of California San Diego, and Dr. Michael Ross, Director of the Chest Pain Center at Emory University. Below are show notes reviewing the recommendations and the process involved in creating the clinical policy.

 

 

How is a clinical policy different than a practice guideline?

The National Guideline Clearinghouse (NGC), a public resource initiative of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), provides rules and frameworks for evidence-based clinical practice guidelines. ACEP refers to clinical practice guidelines in Emergency Medicine (EM) as policies to denote the more prescriptive design process.

What was the process of drafting the policy?

Development of the 2018 ACEP NSTEMI Clinical Policy was a 2-year “labor of love.” Writers, methodologies, and committee members were required to be free from both financial and intellectual conflict of interest.

The clinical policy is a result of a systematic review and critical analysis of available medical literature. Clinical studies were graded on robustness, design, and class of evidence according to the ACEP policy development process which includes internal and external review.

Recommendations were categorized as reflecting high clinical certainty (Level A), moderate clinical certainty (Level B), or mixed clinical certainty (Level C) due to the heterogeneity of results, unclear effect magnitude, bias, among other factors.

What questions did the policy address?

Four critical questions were decided by consensus methods to address the evaluation and management of adult patients presenting to the ED with concern for NSTEMI.

1) If ST-elevation myocardial infarction is excluded, can a combination of bedside and laboratory evaluation in the ED identify patients at low risk for major adverse cardiac events (MACE)?
Level B recommendation: History, ECG, Age, Risk Factors, Troponin (HEART) score < 3 can be used as a clinical prediction tool for a 30-day MACE miss rate between 0-2%.
Level C recommendation: Thrombolysis in Myocardial Infarction (TIMI) score can be used to predict risk of 30-day MACE.

2) Can repeat Troponin testing in the ED be used to identify patients at low risk for MACE?
Level C recommendations:

    • Conventional troponin testing at hour 0 and 3 in low risk (HEART score < 3) patients can predict and acceptable low risk for 30-day MACE.
    • A single high-sensitivity troponin less than the detectable limit on arrival to the ED or negative serial high-sensitivity troponin at hour 0 and 2 is predictive of a low rate of MACE.
    • Patients deemed to be low risk with a non-ischemic ECG and negative high-sensitivity troponin at 0 and 2 hours can be considered low risk for 30-day MACE, allowing for accelerated discharge from the ED.

3) In patients who have been ruled out for acute coronary syndromes (ACS), does advanced cardiac provocative testing prior to discharge from the ED reduce MACE?
Level B recommendation:  Do not routinely use advanced cardiac testing in low-risk patients who have been ruled out for ACS to further reduce 30-day MACE.
Level C recommendation: Arrange follow-up in 1-2 weeks for low-risk patients in whom ACS has been ruled out. If unable to arrange follow-up, consider observation and advanced testing prior to discharge.

4) Should patients with NSTEMI receive antiplatelet therapy in addition to aspirin in the ED?
Level C recommendation: P2Y12 inhibitors and glycoprotein IIb/IIIa inhibitors can be given in the ED or delayed until cardiac catheterization.

What questions remain?

  1. The clinical policy does not address the “delta factor” involved in assessing changes to the cardiac marker levels that may be seen with repeat testing at set time points.
  2. Duration of pain was not discretely addressed, and differences in real-world practice can exist depending on whether the time of onset or time of presentation is considered for defining repeat testing and observation length.
  3. Shared decision-making was not factored into the selection of management steps.

Important points for consideration:

The 2018 ACEP Clinical Policy for NSTEMI was written for the evaluation of patients with suspicion for ACS who presented with chest pain. It does not apply to those presentations of ACS that are considered atypical in nature.

Click here to read a more in-depth summary of the ACEP Clinical Policy on ALiEM. 

Interested in more of the ACEP-EQUAL Podcast?

Listen to more ACEP E-QUAL podcasts episodes on the ALiEM Soundcloud account.

By |2020-12-09T11:57:39-08:00Dec 7, 2020|Academic, ACEP E-QUAL, Cardiovascular|

ACEP E-QUAL: The Electronic ICU

 

eICU

Building on already increasing interest in telehealth, the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the development and implementation of telemedicine services in a variety of clinical settings. In 2018, Dr. Jason Woods hosted an episode of the ACEP E-QUAL Network podcast highlighting the creation of an electronic intensive care unit (eICU) through Emory Healthcare. In this episode, Dr. Tim Buchman and Critical Care Nurse Cheryl Hiddelson share their innovative approach to delivering critical care services via telehealth. We present highlights from this discussion below.

 

 

What is an eICU?

The eICU allows for critical care oversight, without having to be on site. It provides comprehensive monitoring and data analysis and online audio or video support for patients and families. Utilizing advanced information technology (IT) platforms and approaching with a business strategy, telehealth allows for innovative ways to provide critical care services remotely.

Why is there a need for an eICU?

The US population is aging, with the number of Americans age 65 or older increasing steadily. Demand for critical care services increases with age. The availability of critical care physicians is limited in large areas of the US. Similarly, as more nurses are reaching retirement than those entering the workforce, critical care providers are becoming hard to come by. Recruiting and maintaining critical care providers is only one part of the issue, with staffing on nights, weekends, and holidays creating a constant challenge. Telehealth poses a contemporary solution to the scarcity of healthcare providers.

What does the eICU setup look like?

The eICU is akin to airline control towers. There is 24/7 coverage by nursing and physician staff, overseeing more than a hundred beds. Various screens facilitate a “sentry” role in which surveillance monitoring algorithms allow staff to detect problems possibly even before the bedside staff. The eICU integrates bedside monitor data with additional system-wide data to create different views of what is occurring in the unit being monitored. Staff can track discharge readiness and filter lists by system or condition.

Camera sessions allow for bi-directional communication with patients and families, but also for just-in-time-training with staff as well as consultation with specialists.

What unique challenges has the eICU been able to address?

  • On-site advanced practice providers (APPs) such as physician assistants, nurse-practitioners, can be supervised by critical care nurses and physicians to provide in-person care.
  • Alternative staffing from geographic areas that are in a different time zone can help fill night shifts. The Emory group used travel nurses and physicians who were stationed in Australia.
  • Distance and delay to care become irrelevant when an intensivist can be available 24/7.

What benefits have been observed with the eICU?

The Emory eICU was able to realize decreased mortality, decreased transfer rates, decreased length of stay, and an increase in patient experience metrics for the hospitals it covered compared to other local facilities. Analysis of costs suggested savings of thousands of dollars per patient and increased revenue for small community hospitals that could retain and increase their daily census of critical care patients.

Can this concept be applied to Emergency Medicine?

There may be a role in applying telehealth data monitoring to emergency department waiting rooms in an attempt to identify patients at high risk for sudden deterioration or decompensation.

Interested in more ACEP-EQUAL podcasts?

Listen to the other ACEP E-QUAL podcasts on our Soundcloud account.

Treating Blood Pressure in Intracranial Hemorrhage

hemorrhagic stroke equal podcast

Blood pressure control in the setting of ischemic stroke has a clearly recognized benefit in patient outcomes. The impact of blood pressure control in hemorrhagic stroke is not as well understood. The ACEP E-QUAL Network podcast, a partnership with ALiEM to promote clinical practice improvements, reviewed this topic with Dr. Latha Ganti (University of Central Florida College of Medicine). Dr. Ganti addressed the evidence behind recommended blood pressure targets and the available medications to achieve control. We present highlights from this discussion with Dr. Jason Woods.

 

What is the goal of blood pressure control in hemorrhagic stroke?

Management of blood pressure in intracranial hemorrhage (ICH) raises questions about the benefit of limiting hematoma expansion while maintaining cerebral perfusion. While it seems intuitive that hypertension should be controlled to limit hematoma expansion, patients with hemorrhagic stroke may be dependent on higher blood pressures for adequate perfusion.

Does lowering blood pressure lead to perihematomal ischemia?

ICH Adapt studies did not show evidence of decreased cerebral blood flow in perihematomal tissue and demonstrated that there is likely preservation of autoregulation which prevents ischemia [1].

Does lowering BP help prevent hematoma expansion and improve outcomes?

The risk of hematoma expansion is highest within the first couple of hours following initial bleeding. Hematoma expansion is clearly associated with worse outcomes. Scoring tools exist to estimate the risk of hematoma expansion. The “spot sign,” seen on source images from a computed tomography angiogram of the brain, suggests an area of dynamic bleeding.

  • ICH ADAPT: no difference in hematoma expansion or clinical outcome with acute blood pressure lowering [2].
  • INTERACT 2: intensive lowering of blood pressure did not result in a significant reduction in mortality or severe disability [3].
  • ATACH 2: intensive lowering of blood pressure did not improve functional outcomes but was associated with increased renal dysfunction [4].

What is the optimal systolic blood pressure (SBP) target?

AHA Guidelines 2015

  • ICH patients with SBP 150-220 mmHg, lower to 14 mmHg is safe
  • ICH patients with SBP > 220 mmHg, aggressive reduction with continuous infusion may be reasonable

So what’s the right thing to do? If data suggests that lowering may not be as beneficial, what should the target blood pressure be?

  • Target SBP 140-160 mmHg is a reasonable target

What medications are preferred for blood pressure control in ICH?

The ideal agent for blood pressure management in ICH would have a quick onset, but short duration, to allow titration.

Recommended first-line:

  • Labetalol
    • Onset < 5 min
    • Duration of effect 2-4 hr
    • IV bolus dose: 20 mg, followed by 20-80 mg every 10 min to a total dose of 300 mg.
    • Infusion dose: 0.5 mg-2 mg/min
    • Avoid in: asthma, COPD, heart failure, AV block
  • Nicardipine
    • Onset 1-2 min
    • Half-life ~ 40 min
    • Infusion dose: 0.5-1 mcg/kg/min, max 3 mcg/kg/min
  • Clevidipine
    • Onset 1-4 min
    • Duration of effect 5-15 min
    • Infusion dose: 1 mg/hr, up to 21 mg/hr, titrate by 2.5 mg/hr every 5-10 min
    • Avoid in: severe aortic stenosis, and lipid metabolism dysfunction or known allergy to eggs or soy (delivered as lipid emulsion)

Available second-line (mostly off-label, not preferred)

  • Esmolol
  • Fenoldopam
  • Hydralazine
  • Enalaprilat

Conclusions

When it comes to blood pressure: keep it simple.

  • Target SBP 140-160 mmHg
  • Top three drugs: Labetalol, Nicardipine, Clevidipine

Although labetalol has common contraindications, it is available as a bolus dose. In a clinical setting where drips may not be readily available, Labetalol can be easier to get.

Interested in more ACEP-EQUAL podcasts?

Listen to the other ACEP E-QUAL podcasts on our Soundcloud account.

References

  1. Butcher K, Jeerakathil T, Emery D, et al. The Intracerebral Haemorrhage Acutely Decreasing Arterial Pressure Trial: ICH ADAPT. Int J Stroke. 2010;5(3):227-233. PMID: 20536619
  2. Butcher KS, Jeerakathil T, Hill M, et al. The Intracerebral Hemorrhage Acutely Decreasing Arterial Pressure Trial. Stroke. 2013;44(3):620-626. PMID: 23391776
  3. Anderson CS, Heeley E, Huang Y, et al. Rapid blood-pressure lowering in patients with acute intracerebral hemorrhage. N Engl J Med. 2013;368(25):2355-2365. PMID: 23713578
  4. Qureshi AI, Palesch YY, Barsan WG, et al. Intensive Blood-Pressure Lowering in Patients with Acute Cerebral Hemorrhage. N Engl J Med. 2016;375(11):1033-1043. PMID: 27276234
By |2020-10-09T09:47:57-07:00Oct 23, 2020|Academic, Emergency Medicine, Neurology|

Anticoagulant Reversal in Hemorrhagic Stroke

anticoagulant equal podcast

Acute management of cerebrovascular accidents can be challenging enough, but questions about anticoagulant reversal in the setting of hemorrhagic stroke add another layer of complexity. The ACEP E-QUAL Network podcast, a partnership with ALiEM to promote clinical practice improvements, reviewed this topic with Dr. Joshua Goldstein (Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School). Dr. Goldstein addressed common anticoagulants and their reversal agents, summarizing available literature to inform clinical practice. We present highlights from this discussion with Dr. Jason Woods.

 

What is the goal of anticoagulant reversal?

Since it is impossible to go back in time to prevent intracranial hemorrhage (ICH), the focus of management for hemorrhagic stroke should be to prevent further bleeding and allow brain tissue an opportunity to recover. The goal of anticoagulant reversal in patients with ICH is to decrease ongoing bleeding.

Warfarin

Warfarin is a vitamin K antagonist. Since vitamin K is required for the processing of coagulation factors II, VII, IX, and X, patients on warfarin have decreased amounts of these factors in circulation. To increase the availability of these factors, countering the effect of warfarin therapy can be two-fold:

  1. Replenish vitamin K to allow the production of new factors.
  2. Provide replacement of these factors directly.

Vitamin K supplementation will not provide immediate effect, and it may take up to 24 hours for the production of new coagulation factors. While it should be given early, patients also require factor replacement acutely.

Fresh frozen plasma (FFP) or prothrombin complex concentrate (PCC) can be given to supplement coagulation factors.

  • FFP carries each of the 4 needed factors in addition to other clotting factors.
    • The cost of FFP is low.
    • Transfusion will take some time as it will require ~ 1 L volume.
  • PCC, marketed as Kaycentra in the US, consists of concentrated Factor II, VII, IX, X, and proteins C and S.
    • The cost of PCC is higher.
    • Transfusion is quick, ~70 mL, and leads to rapid correction of INR.

Studies have shown PCC to be associated with faster INR reversal, less ICH expansion, and a non-statistical trend toward decreased mortality [1]. PCC does carry a theoretical risk of thromboembolism given the rapid correction, but no evidence exists to suggest that this is the case.

Direct Oral Anticoagulants (DOACs)

There are 2 categories of DOACs:

  1. Factor II inhibitors (e.g., dabigatran)
  2. Factor Xa inhibitors (e.g., rivaroxaban, apixaban, edoxaban)

Approach to reversal: remove the inhibitor to allow normal function of already existent Factor II or Xa

  • Time
    • Time can be thought of as a reversal agent. Most DOACs have a half-life ~12 hours. If the timing of the last dose is known and it was hours ago, there may not be much medication left to reverse.
  • Monoclonal antibodies
    • Reversal of dabigatran can be achieved with the use of a monoclonal antibody, idarucizumab, to bind up circulating inhibitor.
    • Reversal of Factor Xa inhibitors can similarly be attempted with the use of monoclonal antibody andexanet. Andexanet is notably more expensive than idarucizumab.
  • PCC
    • PCC can be used off-label to outcompete circulating inhibitor with extra coagulation factors and increase the number of functional factors.

It should be noted that there are no reliable tests for measuring DOAC activity.

Dual Antiplatelet Therapy (DAPT)

The most common agents are aspirin and Plavix (clopidogrel). The issue with patients on these antiplatelet agents is not a lack of platelets, but the presence of medication that suppresses normal platelet function. Theoretically, if one could provide extra platelets, the inhibiting agent could be saturated and the remaining platelets provide some functional activity.

The PATCH trial demonstrated, however, that platelet transfusion led to significantly worse outcomes [2]. While there is no readily available reversal agent for DAPT, platelet transfusion should be avoided. In fact, observational data suggest that patients on single antiplatelet therapy don’t fare worse and may not need reversal like those with DAPT [3].

Conclusions

Warfarin reversal

  • IV vitamin K + PCC (or FFP)

Dabigatran reversal

  • Specific agent: Idarucizumab
  • Non-specific agent: PCC

Factor Xa inhibitor reversal

  • Specific agent: Andexanet
  • Non-specific agent: PCC

Antiplatelet reversal

  • No available agent
  • Transfusion of platelets associated with worse outcomes.

Interested in more ACEP-EQUAL podcasts?

Listen to the other ACEP E-QUAL podcasts on our Soundcloud account.

References

  1. Steiner T, Poli S, Griebe M, et al. Fresh frozen plasma versus prothrombin complex concentrate in patients with intracranial haemorrhage related to vitamin K antagonists (INCH): a randomised trial. Lancet Neurol. 2016;15(6):566-573. [PMID: 27302126]
  2. Baharoglu MI, Cordonnier C, Al-Shahi Salman R, et al. Platelet transfusion versus standard care after acute stroke due to spontaneous cerebral haemorrhage associated with antiplatelet therapy (PATCH): a randomised, open-label, phase 3 trial. Lancet. 2016;387(10038):2605-2613. [PMID:27178479]
  3. Khan NI, Siddiqui FM, Goldstein JN, et al. Association Between Previous Use of Antiplatelet Therapy and Intracerebral Hemorrhage Outcomes. Stroke. 2017;48(7):1810-1817. [PMID:28596454]
By |2020-10-09T09:33:43-07:00Oct 16, 2020|Academic, Emergency Medicine, Neurology|

Physician Wellness in the COVID-19 Era | Wellness Think Tank

wellness think tank physician wellnessThe COVID-19 pandemic has changed our world in many ways, and for trainees in medicine, the new day-to-day experience of residency continues to adapt and take shape. COVID-19 has undoubtedly affected clinical experiences and educational curricula for residencies. Personal wellbeing for EM residents has become even more important with the new stressors of being on the frontlines. How has the resident experience changed in the ED? How are residents dealing personally and professionally with the new state of things? What strategies, interventions, and resources that residents are utilizing to combat burnout?

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By |2020-07-28T07:03:27-07:00Jul 31, 2020|Life, Wellness, Wellness Think Tank|

ALiEM Statement Against Racism

ALiEM Statement Against Racism

Illustration by Dr. Moises Gallegos

Academic Life in Emergency Medicine (ALiEM) stands in solidarity with emergency physicians and learners in denouncing the structural racism and acts of violence that disproportionately affect persons of color. ALiEM denounces the senseless death of George Floyd which adds to the ever-rising numbers of deaths among Black men and women. The dissemination of the now-viral video documenting Mr. Floyd’s last desperate moments has brought a renewed public awareness to a disease that has for far too long afflicted this nation. We see the injustice and disparities in healthcare that are made even more visible during the COVID-19 pandemic. ALiEM is committed to taking action against racism and discrimination and joins the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP), the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine (SAEM), and the American Academy of Emergency Medicine (AAEM) in urging frontline healthcare providers, educators, and leaders to promote a safe, equitable, and inclusive learning and patient care environment in emergency medicine. We support diversity in free and open access to medical education and uphold efforts to embrace our common humanity.

By |2020-06-01T16:43:29-07:00Jun 2, 2020|Public Health|
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