One of the final common denominators dictating the success or failure of any resuscitative effort, be it a trauma or medical code, is the patient’s acid-base status. In the presence of acidosis, many of the tools at your disposal, including vasopressors, become impotent and the patient’s ability to strike a balance between bleeding and clotting or mounting an appropriate inflammatory response become deranged.1–6 So what are the options to tilt the acid-base status in our favor?
Venipuncture is the most common invasive procedure performed in the emergency department 1 , likely due to the fact that the vast majority of our laboratory evaluations require blood and many of our life saving interventions require access to the patient’s systemic circulation. Most of the time emergency department staff are able to perform this procedure easily, but occasionally you find that your patient is the dreaded “difficult stick”. Literature suggests that the landmark technique is successful on the initial venipuncture 74-77% of the time. 2–5 Success rates rise after multiple attempts, but what happens when you don’t have the luxury of time? What happens when your patient will die if you don’t get life saving medications into their circulation promptly? There are a few options when you can’t get IV access through traditional means, among them external jugular vein cannulation, central line, ultrasound-guided IV, and the intraosseous lines (IO).6 However, when managing the crashing patient, a wise decision is to use the quickest option, which is often the IO.
Severe sepsis and septic shock affect millions of patients worldwide and have high rates of morbidity and mortality as well as high resource utilization. The way we manage sepsis has changed quite a bit since the Rivers et al randomized controlled trial of early goal-directed therapy (EGDT) 1 , which had an absolute decrease in mortality from 46% with “usual care” to 31% with EGDT. What we now know is that a proactive approach to septic patients will result in lower mortality rates and better outcomes (i.e. early identification, early intravenous fluids, and early antibiotics). Patients with sepsis are still missed despite the fact that we understand the benefits to morbidity and mortality with early recognition. In this blast from the past study from 2007, Howell et al 2 answered the important question of does elevated lactic acid simply reflect a patient’s hemodynamic status or can it independently predict 28 day in-hospital mortality after controlling for other potential confounders in patients with sepsis. (more…)
Currently, guidelines recommend therapeutic hypothermia for comatose adults with out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA). A recent trial of adults with OHCA showed that therapeutic hypothermia with the use of a targeted temperature of 33°C vs maintained therapeutic normothermia of 36°C, did not improve outcomes. There is a paucity of randomized trials of therapeutic hypothermia in children with OHCA, but sometimes adult trials get extrapolated to pediatrics. There are differences between adult and pediatric populations with OHCA, which makes it difficult to extrapolate the results of the adult trials to a pediatric population.
In patients undergoing emergent tracheal intubation, there is currently no universally accepted gold-standard test to confirm the location of the endotracheal tube (ETT).1 End-tidal carbon dioxide (CO2) detection is the best of the tests that are routinely utilized to confirm ETT placement, however, it has been shown to have an error rate as high as 1/10 for proper determination of ETT location in emergency intubations.2 As a result, multiple modalities are necessary to confirm ETT location, which can delay mechanical ventilation and other treatments. The lack of a single, reliable test to confirm ETT placement can potentially lead to confusion regarding the location of the tube. This confusion can result in both unrecognized esophageal intubations (“false positive”), as well as successful tracheal intubations that are subsequently removed (“false negative”), subjecting the patient to further unnecessary attempts at airway management. Both scenarios can lead to disastrous consequences.
There is an abundance of sympathetic stimulation in patients who present in ventricular fibrillation (VF) or pulseless ventricular tachycardia (VT) whether endogenously released as a stress response or exogenously administered in a resuscitation attempt.1 The hope is that sympathetic stimulation will increase the coronary and cerebral perfusion pressure of the patient and aid in resuscitation. However, there are numerous detrimental effects associated with epinephrine such as an increase in myocardial oxygen demand leading to increased ischemia.2
Contrary to traditional teaching, interesting evidence exists in both animal models as well as in limited reports in human subjects that show a potential benefit with beta blockade in cardiac arrest.
Intravenous (IV) rapid sequence intubation (RSI) is by most considered the gold standard practice for securing an airway in the critically ill. There are, however, scenarios where it may not be possible to get rapid IV access in a timely manner (i.e. severe cutaneous burns, hemorrhagic shock, IV drug users, and/or the morbidly obese). It has been reported that intraosseous (IO) drug administration has similar pharmacokinetics to IV administration, but there have only been a handful of cases reported using the IO route for RSI. In this post we will discuss intraosseous rapid sequence intubation and if it is a feasible practice. (more…)