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Open Access Publications from the University of California

April Issue

Original Research

Evaluating Disparities Affecting Time from Emergency Department Door to Electrocardiogram in Chest Pain Patients

Introduction: For patients presenting to an emergency department with a chief complaint of chest pain, current American Heart Association guidelines recommend that time from emergency department arrival to completion of electrocardiogram be 10 minutes or less. The aim of this study is to evaluate if differences still exist amongst a diverse patient population presenting to a busy urban emergency department with a chief complaint of chest pain. Methods: This retrospective study looked at 3,419 patients who presented to the Emergency Department with any complaint of chest pain during the medical screening examination. Arrival time and time of first electrocardiogram along with age, gender, race, ethnicity and primary language were extracted from electronic health records. Results: For all patients, the mean time to electrocardiogram was 12.5 minutes (95% CI: 12.1-12.7) and 49.9% of all patients received an electrocardiogram within 10 minutes of arrival. Mean time for men was 11.6 minutes and for women 13.3 minutes (P<0.0001); in addition 54% of men and 44.4% of women had electrocardiogram done within 10 minutes of arrival (P<0.0001). No differences were found with regards to primary language, race or ethnicity of patients. Mean time to electrocardiogram for patients less than 40 years old was 14.6 minutes, which was significantly longer than patients equal or older than 40 years, who’s mean time was 11.9 minutes (p<0.0001). The effect of age was observed across gender, race, ethnicity and primary language spoken by the patients.  Conclusions: Patient presenting to the emergency department with chest pain are subject to several biases that potentially create health disparities. In this study we show that younger patients and women had a delay in time to electrocardiogram showing biases are still an issue.

Review Article

Characteristics of Attempted Suicide in the Middle East and North Africa Region: The Mediating Role of Arab Culture and Religion

The general lack of awareness of mental health in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, particularly within its Arab countries, accounts for limited mental health services and stigmatization of psychiatric conditions in the region. Suicide is a drastic consequence of mental health neglect. Suicidal attempts are one form of presentation to emergency departments (ED) in healthcare centers across the Arab countries in the MENA region. We collected data from various research studies in the region to narrate such presentations. This epidemiological country-by-country summary includes the characteristics of suicidal attempts in the Arab region, with a focus on methods, causes, and management of cases. The summary demonstrates that suicidal attempts in this part of the world share sociocultural and logistic grounds. The prominent archetypes of suicidal attempts are middle-aged Arab women ingesting poisonous substances secondary to familial or interpersonal stressors. We also link these presentations to the Arab culture and its associated beliefs, which at times can dictate privacy and stigmatization of mental health and suicide. Even though religion plays a role in mollifying suicidal attempts, it might exacerbate stigma regarding suicide among Arab societies. Lastly, we recommend management measures that enhance suicide risk detection in the ED and provide an ameliorated understanding of suicidal ideations and behaviors of patients in the Arab countries of the MENA region.

Special Contribution

Mass Casualty Management in the Emergency Department – Lessons Learned in Beirut, Lebanon - Part II

The first article in this series (Part I) discussed the abundant exposure of our emergency department (ED) to mass casualty incidents (MCIs), particularly over the past 14 years. This experience led us to define practical strategies that emergency departments can use to develop their own MCI response plans. In the first part, our main focus was to highlight the abrupt nature of MCIs and the subsequent need to use disaster drills. Additionally, we discussed the importance of having a tiered response and activation as well as other lessons learned from our experience to maximize the preparedness of the emergency department to receive mass casualty.In this article, we discuss the optimal way to triage patients. In addition, we will tackle the best methods for documentation and communication, which are vital yet overlooked during mass casualty incidents. We will also elaborate on what we learned from dealing with outbursts of anger and violence in the ED during MCIs and how to ensure the safety of the ED staff.