Trick of the Trade: Gaze Testing Using “Selfie Mode” on Your Smartphone Camera

gaze testingThe NIH Stroke Scale is used to assess the severity of a suspected stroke. It includes 11 neurologic exam components that can be quickly performed at the bedside. The second component of the NIH Stroke Scale is testing of voluntary horizontal eye movements, a.k.a., “best gaze”.1 Gaze is usually tested by instructing the patient to follow the examiner’s hand or pointer finger in a horizontal plane from side to side. This assessment assumes that the patient can comprehend instructions and actively participate in the physical exam.

But… how do you test gaze if your patient is aphasic or unable to follow commands?
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2017-07-26T10:35:49-07:00

Trick of the Trade: Linear Transducers for Point of Care Ultrasound in Intrauterine Pregnancy Evaluation

Ultrasound in Intrauterine PregnancyThe volume of women presenting to the emergency department (ED) with newly diagnosed first-trimester pregnancies and suspected ectopic pregnancies sometimes seems like an infinitely growing number. As ED physicians, proper identification of an intrauterine pregnancy (IUP) in these patients is of paramount importance and the initial imaging test of choice for many has become bedside point-of-care ultrasound (POCUS).

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2017-07-19T00:05:47-07:00

Trick of the Trade: Sphenopalatine Ganglion Block for Treatment of Primary Headaches

It is thought that the autonomic nervous system is likely involved in migraines and other primary headache disorders given commonly associated symptoms such as nausea, lacrimation, emesis, and rhinorrhea. The sphenopalatine ganglion (SPG) is an extracranial parasympathetic ganglion with both sensory and autonomic fibers. It has therefore been hypothesized that blockade of the sphenopalatine ganglion may produce relief from primary headaches by modulating the autonomic fibers involved in headache disorders.1

While in our anecdotal experience with SPG blocks has been overall very positive, thus far there have been only a few small studies that have investigated it’s use in the Emergency Department. The currently available evidence has been mixed.

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2019-05-06T21:21:41-07:00

Trick of the Trade: Rapid Insertion of Orogastric Tube

We have all been in the situation: an intubated patient needs an orogastric (OG) tube and no one has been able to place it successfully. Unfortunately, we typically find out about this situation after several failed attempts, when the patient is bleeding and/or the anatomy is distorted. It may coil in the mouth or esophagus. Here I present a novel technique to rapidly place an OG tube within seconds.
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2018-10-28T21:30:59-07:00

PEM Pearls: Calming techniques while repairing a laceration

Most children who come into the Emergency Department present with pain or experience pain during their ED stay.1,2,3 Pain and distress during a procedure can leave a lasting impact on a child and contribute to mistrust of the medical system and compliance with future procedures.1 ,4,5 Children who use active forms of coping report less pain and distress during a procedure.3 To help with coping, when feasible, involve parents or family, nursing and a child life specialist. If the parents are willing, try to get them involved in all parts of the medical procedure.2,3 This includes positioning the patient with a parent in a secure parental-hugging hold or maintaining close physical contact throughout the procedure.6 This can easily replace immobilization of a child or the use of restraints which can cause increased fear and escalate the degree of anxiety in a child.2

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Trick of the Trade: Warfarin tablet strength identification

warfarinMedical providers commonly encounter patients in the emergency department who state they are anticoagulated with warfarin, but they have no idea what dose they are taking. “I know that I take two pills of warfarin daily.” Dosing becomes critically important especially when continuing their medication as an inpatient, refilling their medications, or adjusting their outpatient dose because of an inappropriately high or low INR level. How can you determine the patient’s warfarin dose?
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Trick of the Trade: A cleaner way to apply dental cement for a tooth fracture

dental cement for tooth fracture The management of a dental fracture is a core skill of the emergency physician.1 When the enamel is violated and the underlying dentin is exposed (i.e. Ellis Class II or greater), the dental pulp becomes at risk.2 Protecting the exposed dentin in a timely manner, therefore, is paramount. This is best accomplished through the use of dental cements.

The application of dental cement to a fractured tooth, while a relatively rare procedure, is one often fraught with difficulties. With many of the formulations requiring the rapid application of a fast-drying cement, time for accurate and clean application is limited. This often clumsy, haphazard spackling of the patient’s tooth with cement rarely feels smooth or confidence-instilling. Isn’t there a better way?
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2019-04-28T19:59:44-07:00