A 76-year-old obese male with a history of severe COPD presents to your emergency department (ED) in acute respiratory distress. The patient’s large beard prevents an adequate seal with the NIV (non-invasive ventilation) mask, and the patient continues to desaturate. You are fairly sure that this patient will be a difficult airway and optimizing oxygenation prior to and during your intubation attempt would be ideal. Now what?
Intravenous (IV) access is a basic and invaluable skill for emergency physicians. For patients requiring rapid fluid resuscitation, airway management, or medication administration, the placement of one or more IV lines is absolutely essential. Most patients do well with a simple, landmark-based, blind placement of a superficial peripheral IV. However, we often encounter situations where this may be difficult or impossible to achieve, and so we all should have a repertoire of other sites and techniques to employ.
Emergency physicians (EPs) have been successfully training in and practicing critical care in the ICU for decades, though until recently board certification remained closed to EPs. In the last few years, however, we have seen monumental changes in training opportunities for EPs, including national standardization of training programs, and most importantly, the establishment of three distinct pathways to board certification. Though the details of some of these pathways are still being worked out, much more concrete arrangements have been reached in the last 6 months. If you are an EM resident interested in applying to critical care fellowships, this is what you need to know.
The first time I saw the Thumper performing CPR on a patient I thought “well, that makes sense.” Since then we have seen other devices, most notably the Zoll AutoPulse and the Physio-Control LUCAS. It was disappointing to many in 2005 when the AutoPulse trial was halted early due to harm. 1 Although four-hour survival was similar between groups, the hospital discharge survival rate in the manual CPR group was 9.9% compared to 5.8% in the mechanical CPR group. Many hypotheses were proposed to explain the results, which included Hawthorne effect, prolonged device deployment time, and enrollment bias. Last month, the results of the LUCAS in Cardiac Arrest (LINC) trial were published in JAMA, breathing new life into the mechanical vs manual CPR debate. 2
The short answer to this question is NO. Since the landmark post-arrest, therapeutic hypothermia studies published in 2002, 1,2 extensive efforts have been made to ensure our post-arrest patients are cooled… and cooled fast. It only seemed logical to extend this revolutionary treatment into the field and have paramedics begin the cooling in the field. New EMS protocols were developed around the country to incorporate hypothermia into cardiac arrest management and well received by paramedics and EMTs. But a recent JAMA publication calls this now into question. 3
Multi-detector computed tomographic pulmonary angiography (CTPA) allows for better visualization of peripheral pulmonary arteries allowing for diagnosis of small peripheral emboli limited to the subsegmental pulmonary arteries. Interestingly as these SSPE’s get diagnosed more and more, two questions come to mind:
- What is the prognostic utility of diagnosing SSPEs?
- What is the morbidity and mortality of SSPEs compared to more proximal PEs?
A recent study in 2013 Blood looked at these questions. 1
Emergent airway management and severe sepsis are both high-risk situations that are commonly encountered by emergency physicians. It is well known that complications can be high in both situations, which in turn can lead to increased morbidity and mortality. For instance, about 1/4 of patients who are hemodynamically stable prior to intubation get post-intubation hypotension (PIH) after rapid sequence intubation. Also septic patients may not be reliably identified by systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS) markers early in their disease course. The Shock Index (SI) may be an adjunct that is easy to calculate and could predict both PIH and severe sepsis.