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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Volume 12, Issue 4, 2011

Volume 12 Issue 4 2011


Rapid Sequence Intubation from the Patient’s Perspective

Introduction: This study assesses the efficacy of the rapid sequence intubation (RSI) protocol in preventing patient recollection of resuscitative events and patient discomfort during intubation, as subjectively determined by the patient.

Methods: This was a prospective study of all patients intubated at Los Angeles County, University of Southern California Medical Center from July 2009 to January 2010. Extubated patients were interviewed using a standard questionnaire and data collection tool.

Results: Of 211 airway codes, 201 were excluded due to death before extubation, transfer, or persistent vegetative state, leaving 10 awake, alert subjects who were interviewed regarding their recollection of the RSI and resuscitation. Five had recollection of the event. Most patients recalling RSI

described the event as painful or uncomfortable despite receiving the recommended doses of sedation/

induction agents.

Conclusion: In this cohort of 10 patients intubated using typical agents, 5 remembered some details of their intubation and 2 described pain that was 10/10 on a verbal pain scale. Further work is indicated to ensure that the medications used during this procedure provide the appropriate sedation and amnesia.

[West J Emerg Med. 2011;12(4):365–367.]

Impending Airway Compromise due to Cystic Hygroma

We report on a 3-month-old infant, who arrived in the pediatric emergency department (ED) with a cervical cystic hygroma causing an impending compromise of the airway. We recognize that such a lesion can rapidly progress, and the judicious use of imaging in the ED may help to avoid airway compromise and possibly fatal complications. [West J Emerg Med. 2011;12(4):368–369.]

Clinical Practice

Nonconvulsive Status Epilepticus in Hepatic Encephalopathy

We discuss a case of a 64-year-old male with a history of liver failure presenting with altered mental status, initially diagnosed with hepatic encephalopathy but ultimately diagnosed with nonconvulsive status epilepticus (NCSE) by electroencephalogram (EEG). NCSE is a difficult diagnosis to make, given no clear consensus on diagnostic criteria. Especially in the intensive care unit setting of persistent altered mental status with no clear etiology, NCSE must be considered in the differential diagnosis, as the consequences of delayed diagnosis and treatment can be substantial. EEG can be useful in the evaluation of patients with hepatic encephalopathy who have persistently altered levels of consciousness despite optimal medical management. [West J Emerg Med. 2011;12(4):372–374.]

Antibiotic Prescribing Practices of Emergency Physicians and Patient Expectations for Uncomplicated Lacerations

Introduction: Prophylactic antibiotics have not been found to have a benefit in the setting of uncomplicated lacerations. We evaluated the proportion of patients with uncomplicated lacerations who are prescribed prophylactic antibiotics in the emergency department (ED), factors that physicians considered when prescribing antibiotics, and factors associated with patient satisfaction.

Methods: Adults and children presenting to 10 academic EDs with acute lacerations were enrolled. Enrolled patients were interviewed before and after their physician encounter in the ED and 2 weeks later. Physicians were interviewed in the ED after the patient encounter about factors that influenced their management decisions, including their perceptions of patients’ expectations. We included patients with uncomplicated lacerations (without contamination, infection, bone, tendon, or joint involvement) for analysis.

Results: Of 436 patients enrolled, 260 had uncomplicated lacerations, and of these, 55 (21%) were treated with antibiotics in the ED or by prescription. Physicians were more likely to use antibiotics when the wound was more than 8 hours old, involved a puncture or amputation, and when the patient lacked medical insurance. A treatment course of 7 days or greater was given to 24 of 45 patients (53%) receiving outpatient prescriptions. Patient satisfaction was not associated with antibiotic use.

Conclusion: Antibiotics were used for about one fifth of ED patients with uncomplicated lacerations despite a lack of evidence for efficacy. [West J Emerg Med. 2011;12(4):375–380.]

  • 1 supplemental PDF

Comparison of Three Aspirin Formulations in Human Volunteers

Introduction: The treatment of acute coronary syndrome (ACS) includes the administration of aspirin. Current guidelines recommend chewing aspirin tablets to increase absorption. While this is intuitive, there are scant data supporting this recommendation. The purpose of this study is to assess which of 3 different aspirin formulations is most rapidly absorbed after ingestion.

Methods: A prospective, open-label, 3-way crossover volunteer study at a tertiary university medical center with human subjects 18 years or older. Fasted subjects were randomly assigned to receive aspirin 1,950 mg as (1) solid aspirin tablets swallowed whole, (2) solid aspirin tablet chewed then swallowed, or (3) a chewable aspirin formulation chewed and swallowed. Serum salicylate measurements were obtained over a period of 180 minutes. Pharmacokinetic parameters were determined.

Results: Thirteen males and 1 female completed all 3 arms of study. Peak serum salicylate concentrations were seen at 180 minutes in all groups. Mean peaks were 10.4, 11.3, and 12.2 mg/dL in groups 1, 2, and 3, respectively. Mean area under the time concentration was 1,153, 1,401, and 1,743 mg-min/dL in groups 1, 2, and 3, respectively. No measurable salicylate concentrations were seen in 6 subjects in group 1 at 60 minutes as compared to 1 subject in group 2. All subjects in group 3 had measurable levels at 45 minutes. There were no adverse effects in any of the subjects during the study period.

Conclusion: Our data demonstrate that the chewable aspirin formulation achieved the most rapid rate of absorption. In addition, the chewable formulation absorption was more complete than the other formulations at 180 minutes. These data suggest that in the treatment of ACS, a chewable aspirin formulation may be preferable to solid tablet aspirin, either chewed or swallowed. [West J Emerg Med. 2011;12(4):381–385.]

Reversal of Warfarin-Induced Hemorrhage in the Emergency Department

Warfarin, an oral vitamin K antagonist, is used to prevent arterial and venous thromboembolism in patients suffering from a multitude of diseases. In 2004, 31 million warfarin prescriptions were dispensed in the United States. Warfarin inhibits the activation of the vitamin K–dependent clotting factors (Factors II, VII, IX, and X) and regulatory proteins (proteins C, S, and Z). It is one of the leading drugs implicated in emergency room visits for adverse drug reactions. Annually the frequency of bleeding complications associated with overanticoagulation is 15% to 20%, with fatal bleeds measuring as high as 1% to 3%. The most effective method of warfarin reversal involves the use of Four Factor Prothrombin Complex Concentrate (PCC), which is widely used throughout Europe but is unavailable in the United States. The current therapies available to emergency room physicians in the United States are fresh frozen plasma, recombinant Factor VIIa (rFVIIa), Factor Eight Inhibitory Bypassing Activity, or Three Factor PCC concomitantly administered with vitamin K. We review the advantages and disadvantages of these therapies and recommend Three Factor PCC with small doses of rFVIIa and with vitamin K in life-threatening situations if Four Factor PCC is unavailable. [West J Emerg Med. 2011;12(4):386–392.]

Tattoos and Piercing: A Review for the Emergency Department Physician

Tattoos and piercings are increasingly part of everyday life for large sections of the population, and more emergency physicians are seeing these body modifications (BM) adorn their patients. In this review we elucidate the most common forms of these BMs, we describe how they may affect both the physical and psychological health of the patient undergoing treatment, and also try to educate around any potential pitfalls in treating associated complications. [West J Emerg Med. 2011;12(4):393–398.]

Propofol and Etomidate are Safe for Deep Sedation in the Emergency Department

This study describes deep sedations performed for painful procedures completed in the emergency department at an academic tertiary care hospital during an 18-month period. One hundred consecutive cases were retrospectively reviewed to describe indications, complications, procedural lengths, medication dosing, and safety of these sedations. Propofol and etomidate were the preferred agents. We found that there were relatively few complications (10%), with only 2 of these (2%) being major complications. All complications were brief and did not adversely affect patient outcomes. This data further demonstrate the safety profile of deep sedation medications in the hands of emergency physicians trained in sedation and advanced airway techniques. [West J Emerg Med. 2011;12(4):399–403.]

Ileus and Small Bowel Obstruction in an Emergency Department Observation Unit: Are there Outcome Predictors?

Introduction: The purpose of our study was to describe the evaluation and outcome of patients with ileus and bowel obstruction admitted to an emergency department (ED) observation unit (OU) and to identify predictors of successful management for such patients.

Methods: We performed a retrospective chart review of 129 patients admitted to a university-affiliated, urban, tertiary hospital ED OU from January 1999 through November 2004. Inclusion criteria were all adult patients admitted to the OU with an ED diagnosis of ileus, partial small bowel obstruction, or small

bowel obstruction, and electronic medical records available for review. The following variables were examined: ED diagnosis, history of similar admission, number of prior abdominal surgeries, surgery in

the month before, administration of opioid analgesia at any time after presentation, radiographs demonstrating air–fluid levels or dilated loops of small bowel, hypokalemia, use of nasogastric decompression, and surgical consultation.

Results: Treatment failure, defined as hospital admission from the OU, occurred in 65 (50.4%) of 129 patients. Only the use of a nasogastric tube was associated with OU failure (21% discharged versus 79% requiring admission, P ¼ 0.0004; odds ratio, 5.294; confidence interval, 1.982–14.14).

Conclusion: Half of the patients admitted to our ED OU with ileus or varying degrees of small bowel obstruction required hospital admission. The requirement of a nasogastric tube in such patients was associated with a greater rate of observation unit failure. [West J Emerg Med. 2011;12(4):404–407.]

Oral and Tympanic Membrane Temperatures are Inaccurate to Identify Fever in Emergency Department Adults

Introduction: Identifying fever can influence management of the emergency department (ED) patient, including diagnostic testing, treatment, and disposition. We set out to determine how well oral and tympanic membrane (TM) temperatures compared with rectal measurements. Methods: A convenience sample of consecutively adult ED patients had oral, TM, and rectal temperatures performed within several minutes of each other. Descriptive statistics, Bland–Altman agreement matrices with 95% confidence interval (CI), and measures of test performance, including sensitivity, specificity, predictive values, and interval likelihood ratios were performed. Results: A total of 457 patients were enrolled with an average age of 64 years (standard deviation: 19 years). Mean temperatures were: oral (98.38F), TM (99.68F), and rectal (99.48F). The mean difference in rectal and oral temperatures was 1.18F, although there was considerable lack of agreement between oral and rectal temperatures, with the oral temperature as much as 2.918F lower or 0.748F higher than the rectal measurement (95% CI). Although the difference in mean temperature between right TM and rectal temperature was only 0.228F, the right TM was lower than rectal by up to 1.618F or greater by up to 2.058F (95% CI). Test performance varied as the positive predictive value of the oral temperature was 97% and for tympanic temperature was 55% (relative to a rectal temperature of 100.48F or higher). Comparative findings differed even at temperatures considered in the normal range; among patients with an oral temperature of 98.0 to 98.9, 38% (25/65) were found to have a rectal temperature of 100.4 or higher, while among patients with a TM of 98.0 to 98.9, only 7% (10/134) were found to have a rectal temperature of 100.4 or higher. Conclusion: In conclusion, the oral and tympanic temperature readings are not equivalent to rectal thermometry readings. Oral thermometry frequently underestimates the temperature relative to rectal readings, and TM values can either under- or overestimate the rectal temperature. The clinician needs to be aware of the varying relationship between oral, TM, and rectal temperatures when interpreting readings. [West J Emerg Med. 2011;12(4):505–511.]

Food Protein-Induced Enterocolitis Syndrome as a Cause for Infant Hypotension

Infants with food protein-induced enterocolitis syndrome (FPIES) may present to the emergency department (ED) with vomiting and hypotension. A previously healthy, 5-month-old male presented with vomiting and hypotension 2 to 3 hours after eating squash. The patient was resuscitated with intravenous fluids, antibiotics, and admitted for presumed sepsis. No source of infection was ever found and the patient was discharged. The patient returned 8 days later with the same symptoms after eating sweet potatoes; the diagnosis of FPIES was made during this admission. Two additional ED visits occurred requiring hydration after new food exposure. FPIES should be considered in infants presenting with gastrointestinal complaints and hypotension. A dietary history, including if a new food has been introduced in the last few hours, may help facilitate earlier recognition of the syndrome. [West J Emerg Med. 2011;12(4):512–514.]

Os Odontoideum: Rare Cervical Lesion

We report the case of a 22-year-old Marine who presented to the emergency department, after a martial arts exercise, with transient weakness and numbness in all extremities. Computed tomography cervical spine radiographs revealed os odontoideum. Lateral flexion–extension radiographs identified atlanto-axillary instability. This abnormality is rare and can be career ending for military members who do not undergo surgical fusion. [West J Emerg Med. 2011;12(4):520–522.]

A Rare Isolated Trapezoid Fracture

[West J Emerg Med. 2011;12(4):523–524.]

Unusual Cause of Chest Pain on Radiograph

Although pneumomediastinum (PM) is a cause of chest pain which can be diagnosed on a plain chest radiograph, emergency physicians frequently miss the diagnosis. As follows a description of findings of PM on the chest radiograph. [West J Emerg Med. 2011;12(4):525.]

Continuous Diaphragm Sign

[West J Emerg Med. 2011;12(4):526–527.]

Torsion of Undescended Testis in a 14-Month-Old Child Refusing to Bear Weight

In this report, we discuss a case of a 14-month-old male presenting in the emergency department refusal to bear weight on his left leg. Plain radiographic studies revealed no evidence of effusion, fracture, or dislocation. Laboratory studies were significant for an elevated white blood cell count, erythrocyte sedimentation rate, and C-reactive protein. Further studies included unremarkable ultrasound of the left hip and normal magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of both hips. An incidental finding on MRI was a left inguinal mass concerning an incarcerated hernia. Ultrasound of this demonstrated a left undescended testis within the inguinal canal and possible incarcerated paratesticular inguinal hernia. The final pathologic diagnosis of a torsed gangrenous left testicle the inguinal canal was confirmed during surgery. [West J Emerg Med. 2011;12(4):515–519.]


Pre-Hospital 12-Lead Electrocardiogram within 60 Minutes Differentiates Proximal versus Nonproximal Left Anterior Descending Artery Myocardial Infarction

Introduction: Acute anterior myocardial infarctions caused by proximal left anterior descending (LAD) artery occlusions are associated with a higher morbidity and mortality. Early identification of high-risk patients via the 12-lead electrocardiogram (ECG) could assist physicians and emergency response teams in providing early and aggressive care for patients with anterior ST-elevation myocardial infarctions (STEMI). Approximately 25% of US hospitals have primary percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) capability for the treatment of acute myocardial infarctions. Given the paucity of

hospitals capable of PCI, early identification of more severe myocardial infarction may prompt

emergency medical service routing of these patients to PCI-capable hospitals. We sought to determine if the 12 lead ECG is capable of predicting proximal LAD artery occlusions.

Methods: In a retrospective, post-hoc analysis of the Pre-Hospital Administration of Thrombolytic Therapy with Urgent Culprit Artery Revascularization pilot trial, we compared the ECG findings of

proximal and nonproximal LAD occlusions for patients who had undergone an ECG within 180 minutes of symptom onset.

Results: In this study, 72 patients had anterior STEMIs, with ECGs performed within 180 minutes of symptom onset. In patients who had undergone ECGs within 60 minutes (n¼35), the mean sum of ST elevation (STE) in leads V1 through V6 plus ST depression (STD) in leads II, III, and aVF was 19.2 mm for proximal LAD occlusions and 11.7 mm for nonproximal LAD occlusions (P¼0.007). A sum STE in V1 through V6 plus STD in II, III, and aVF of at least 17.5 mm had a sensitivity of 52.3%, specificity of 92.9%, positive predictive value of 91.7%, and negative predictive value of 56.5% for proximal LAD occlusions. When the ECG was performed more than 60 minutes after symptom onset (n¼37), there was no significant difference in ST-segment deviation between the 2 groups.

Conclusion: The sum STE (V1-V6) and STD (II, III, aVF) on a 12-lead ECG can be used to predict proximal LAD occlusions if performed within the first hour of symptom onset. This should be considered a high-risk finding and may prompt prehospital direction of such patients to PCI-capable hospitals. [West J Emerg Med. 2011;12(4):408–413.]

Cardiac Complications in Acute Ischemic Stroke

Introduction: To characterize cardiac complications in acute ischemic stroke (AIS) patients admitted from an urban emergency department (ED).

Methods: Retrospective cross-sectional study evaluating AIS patients admitted from the ED within 24 hours of symptom onset who also had an echocardiogram performed within 72 hours of admission.

Results: Two hundred AIS patients were identified with an overall in-hospital mortality rate of 8% (n¼ 16). In our cohort, 57 (28.5%) of 200 had an ejection fraction less than 50%, 35 (20.4%) of 171 had ischemic changes on electrocardiogram (ECG), 18 (10.5%) of 171 presented in active atrial fibrillation, 21 (13.0%) of 161 had serum troponin elevation, and 2 (1.1%) of 184 survivors had potentially lethal

arrhythmias on telemetry monitoring. Subgroup analysis revealed higher in-hospital mortality rates among those with systolic dysfunction (15.8% versus 4.9%; P ¼ 0.0180), troponin elevation (38.1% versus 3.4%; P , 0.0001), atrial fibrillation on ECG (33.3% versus 3.8%; P ¼ 0.0003), and ischemic changes on ECG (17.1% versus 6.1%; P ¼ 0.0398) compared with those without.

Conclusion: A proportion of AIS patients may have cardiac complications. Systolic dysfunction, troponin elevation, atrial fibrillation, or ischemic changes on ECG may be associated with higher inhospital mortality rates. These findings support the adjunctive role of cardiac-monitoring strategies in the acute presentation of AIS. [West J Emerg Med. 2011;12(4):414–420.]

Course of Untreated High Blood Pressure in the Emergency Department

Introduction: No clear understanding exists about the course of a patient’s blood pressure (BP) during an emergency department (ED) visit. Prior investigations have demonstrated that BP can be reduced by removing patients from treatment areas or by placing patients supine and observing them for several hours. However, modern EDs are chaotic and noisy places where patients and their families wait for long periods in an unfamiliar environment. We sought to determine the stability of repeated BP measurements in the ED environment.

Methods: A prospective study was performed at an urban ED. Research assistants trained and certified in BP measurement obtained sequential manual BPs and heart rates on a convenience sample of 76 patients, beginning with the patient arrival in the ED. Patients were observed through their stay for up to 2 hours, and BP was measured at 10-minute intervals. Data analysis with SAS PROC MIXED (SAS Institute, Cary, North Carolina) for regression models with correlated data determined the shape of the curve as BP changed over time. Patients were grouped on the basis of their presenting BP as normal (less than 140/90), elevated (140–160/90–100), or severely elevated (greater than 160/100) for the regression analysis.

Results: A statistically significant downward trend in systolic and diastolic BP was observed only for those patients presenting with severely elevated BPs (ie, greater than 160/100).

Conclusion: We demonstrate a statistically significant decline in systolic and diastolic BP over time spent in the ED only for patients with severely elevated presenting BPs. [West J Emerg Med. 2011;12(4):421–425.]

Vascular Pedicle Width on Chest Radiograph as a Measure of Volume Overload: Meta-Analysis

Introduction: Vascular pedicle width (VPW), a measurement obtained from a chest radiograph (CR), is thought to be an indicator of circulating blood volume. To date there are only a handful of studies that demonstrate a correlation between high VPW and volume overload, each utilizing different VPW values and CR techniques. Our objective was to determine a mean VPW measurement from erect and supine CRs and to determine whether VPW correlates with volume overload.

Methods: MEDLINE database, Web of Science, and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials were searched electronically for relevant articles. References from the original and review publications selected electronically were manually searched for additional relevant articles. Two investigators independently reviewed relevant articles for inclusion criteria and data extraction. Mean

VPW measurements from both supine and erect CRs and their correlation with volume overload were calculated.

Results: Data from 8 studies with a total of 363 subjects were included, resulting in mean VPW

measurements of 71 mm (95% confidence interval [CI] 64.9–77.3) and 62 mm (95% CI 49.3–75.1) for supine and erect CRs, respectively. The correlation coefficients for volume overload and VPW were 0.81 (95% CI 0.74–0.86) for both CR techniques and 0.81 (95% CI 0.72–0.87) for supine CR and 0.80 (95% CI 0.69–0.87) for erect CR, respectively.

Conclusion: There is a clinical and statistical correlation between VPW and volume overload. VPW may be used to evaluate the volume status of a patient regardless of the CR technique used. [West J Emerg Med. 2011;12(4):426–432.]

“Playboy Bunny” Sign of Congestive Heart Failure

In emergency, ultrasound has been widely used as a non-invasive and effective examination to evaluate congestive heart failure. We highlight “Playboy Bunny” sign as a reliable marker and an important clue to the diagnosis of passive hepatic congestion, caused by congestive heart failure. [West J Emerg Med. 2011;12(4):433–434.]

Pharmaceutical Sponsorship Bias Influences Thrombolytic Literature in Acute Ischemic Stroke

Background: The efficacy of thrombolytic therapy for acute ischemic stroke remains controversial in Emergency Medicine and has not been fully endorsed by either the American College of Emergency Physicians or the American Academy of emergency medicine. A growing recognition exists of the influence of pharmaceutical sponsorship on the reported findings of published clinical trials. Sponsorship bias has been suggested as a potential criticism of the literature and guidelines favoring thrombolytic therapy.

Objective: The objective of this study is to review the most influential literature regarding thrombolytic therapy for acute ischemic stroke and document the presence or absence of pharmaceutical sponsorship.

Methods: A publication-citation analysis was performed to identify the most frequently cited articles pertaining to thrombolytic therapy for acute ischemic stroke. Identified articles were reviewed for disclosures of pharmaceutical funding.

Results: Of the 20 most-cited articles pertaining to thrombolytic therapy for acute stroke, 17 (85%) disclosed pharmaceutical sponsorship. These disclosures range from general sponsorship to direct employment of authors by pharmaceutical companies.

Conclusion: An overwhelming predominance of the most influential literature regarding thrombolytic therapy for acute ischemic stroke is susceptible to sponsorship bias. This potential bias may provide a basis for physician concern regarding the efficacy and safety of thrombolytic therapy. Further, large, independent, placebo-controlled studies may be required to guide therapy and professional guidelines definitively for acute ischemic stroke. [West J Emerg Med. 2011;12(4):435–441.]

Technology and Education

Can Emergency Medicine Residents Reliably Use the Internet to Answer Clinical Questions?

Introduction: The study objective was to determine the accuracy of answers to clinical questions by emergency medicine (EM) residents conducting Internet searches by using Google. Emergency physicians commonly turn to outside resources to answer clinical questions that arise in the emergency department (ED). Internet access in the ED has supplanted textbooks for references because it is perceived as being more up to date. Although Google is the most widely used general Internet search engine, it is not medically oriented and merely provides links to other sources. Users must judge the reliability of the information obtained on the links. We frequently observed EM faculty and residents using Google rather than medicine-specific databases to seek answers to clinical questions. Methods: Two EM faculties developed a clinically oriented test for residents to take without the use of any outside aid. They were instructed to answer each question only if they were confident enough of their answer to implement it in a patient-care situation. Questions marked as unsure or answered incorrectly were used to construct a second test for each subject. On the second test, they were instructed to use Google as a resource to find links that contained answers. Results: Thirty-three residents participated. The means for the initial test were 32% correct, 28% incorrect, and 40% unsure. On the Google test, the mean for correct answers was 59%; 33% of answers were incorrect and 8% were unsure. Conclusion: EM residents’ ability to answer clinical questions correctly by using Web sites from Google searches was poor. More concerning was that unsure answers decreased, whereas incorrect answers increased. The Internet appears to have given the residents a false sense of security in their answers. Innovations, such as Internet access in the ED, should be studied carefully before being accepted as reliable tools for teaching clinical decision making. [West J Emerg Med. 2011;12(4):442–447.]

Completeness and Accuracy of Emergency Medical Information on the Web: Update 2008

Introduction: Reliable and accurate Web-based health information is extremely valuable when applied to emergency medical diagnoses. With this update we seek to build upon on the 2004 study by determining whether the completeness and accuracy of emergency medical information available online has improved over time.

Methods: The top 15 healthcare information sites, as determined by internet traffic, were reviewed between February 4, 2008, and February 29, 2008. Standard checklists were created from information provided by American Stroke Association, American Heart Association, National Institutes of Health, and American College of Emergency Physicians to evaluate medical content on each of the Web sites for 4 common emergency department diagnoses: myocardial infarct, stroke, influenza, and febrile child. Each Web site was evaluated for descriptive information, completeness, and accuracy. Data were sorted for total medical checklist items, certification and credentialing, and medical items by topic.

Results: Three of the 15 sites were excluded because of a lack of medical information on the selected topics. Completeness of sites ranged from 46% to 80% of total checklist items found. The median percentage of items found was 72. Two sites, MSN Health and Yahoo!Health, contained the greatest amount of medical information, with 98 of 123 checklist items found for each site. All Web sites but 1,, contained greater than 50% of aggregated checklist items, and the majority (ie, 7 of 12) contained greater than 70%. was the least complete Web site, containing 57 of 123 items. No significant correlation was found between credentialing and completeness of site (correlation coefficient = -0.385) or credentialing and site popularity (correlation coefficient = 0.184).

Conclusion: This study indicates that the completeness and accuracy of online emergency medical information available to the general public has improved over the past 6 years. Overall, health Web sites studied contained greater than 70% of aggregated medical information on 4 common emergency department diagnoses, and 4 sites examined advanced from 2002 to 2008. [West J Emerg Med. 2011;12(4):448–454.]

  • 1 supplemental PDF

Simulation in Medical Student Education: Survey of the Clerkship Directors in Emergency Medicine

Introduction: The objective of this study is to identify (1) the current role of simulation in medical student emergency medicine (EM) education; (2) the challenges to initiating and sustaining simulationbased programs; and (3) educational advances to meet these challenges.

Methods: We solicited members of the Clerkship Directors in Emergency Medicine (CDEM) e-mail list to complete a Web-based survey addressing the use of simulation in both EM clerkships and preclinical EM curricula. Survey elements addressed the nature of the undergraduate EM clerkship and utilization of simulation, types of technology, and barriers to increased use in each setting.

Results: CDEM members representing 60 EM programs on the list (80%) responded. Sixty-seven percent of EM clerkships are in the fourth year of medical school only and 45% are required. Fewer than 25% of clerkship core curriculum hours incorporate simulation. The simulation modalities used most frequently were high-fidelity models (79%), task trainers (55%), and low-fidelity models (30%). Respondents identified limited faculty time (88.7%) and clerkship hours (47.2%) as the main barriers to implementing simulation training in EM clerkships. Financial resources, faculty time, and the volume of students were the main barriers to additional simulation in preclinical years.

Conclusion: A focused, stepwise application of simulation to medical student EM curricula can help optimize the ratio of student benefit to faculty time. Limited time in the curriculum can be addressed by replacing existing material with simulation-based modules for those subjects better suited to simulation. Faculty can use hybrid approaches in the preclinical years to combine simulation with classroom settings for either small or large groups to more actively engage learners while minimizing identified barriers.

Simulation in Medical School Education: Review for Emergency Medicine

Medical education is rapidly evolving. With the paradigm shift to small-group didactic sessions and focus on clinically oriented case-based scenarios, simulation training has provided educators a novel way to deliver medical education in the 21st century. The field continues to expand in scope and practice and is being incorporated into medical school clerkship education, and specifically in emergency medicine (EM). The use of medical simulation in graduate medical education is well documented. Our aim in this article is to perform a retrospective review of the current literature, studying simulation use in EM medical student clerkships. Studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of simulation in teaching basic science, clinical knowledge, procedural skills, teamwork, and communication skills. As simulation becomes increasingly prevalent in medical school curricula, more studies are needed to assess whether simulation training improves patient-related outcomes.


Implication and Approach to Incidental Findings in Live Ultrasound Models

Introduction: Incidental findings during ultrasound examinations occur frequently with live models in training sessions. Because of the broad scope of training sessions available, the ethics and guidelines of dealing with incidental findings in live models need to be discussed.

Methods: We provide a case of an endovaginal ultrasound that had significant unexpected findings.

Results: This report demonstrates an important finding uncovered during an endovaginal modeling session.

Conclusion: Models should be notified beforehand of the possibility of an incidental finding, informed about it, made aware of potential associated costs, referred to another physician for follow-up, and provided a copy of the scans. A secure copy of the ultrasound scan should be stored for future reference. [West J Emerg Med. 2011;12(4):472–474.]

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Ultrasound-Guided Peripheral Intravenous Access in the Emergency Department: Patient-Centered Survey

Introduction: To assess characteristics, satisfaction, and disposition of emergency department (ED) patients who successfully received ultrasound (US)-guided peripheral intravenous (IV) access.

Methods: This is a prospective observational study among ED patients who successfully received US-guided peripheral IV access by ED technicians. Nineteen ED technicians were taught to use US guidance to obtain IV access. Training sessions consisted of didactic instruction and hands-on practice. The US guidance for IV access was limited to patients with difficult access. After successfully receiving an US-guided peripheral IV, patients were approached by research assistants who administered a 10-question survey. Disposition information was collected after the conclusion of the ED visit by accessing patients’ electronic medical record.

Results: In total, 146 surveys were completed in patients successfully receiving US-guided IVs. Patients reported an average satisfaction with the procedure of 9.2 of 10. Forty-two percent of patients had a body mass index (BMI) of greater than 30, and 17.8% had a BMI of more than 35. Sixty-two percent reported a history of central venous catheter placement. This patient population averaged 3 ED visits per year in the past year. Fifty-three percent of the patients were admitted.

Conclusion: Patients requiring US-guided IVs in our ED are discharged home at the conclusion of their ED visit about half of the time. These patients reported high rates of both difficult IV access and central venous catheter placement in the past. Patient satisfaction with US-guided IVs was very high. These data support the continued use of US-guided peripheral IVs in this patient population. [West J Emerg Med. 2011;12(4):475–477.]

Incidental Identification of Right Atrial Mass Using Bedside Ultrasound: Cardiac Angiosarcoma

Background: Emergency ultrasound is now used in both community and academic hospitals for rapid diagnosis and treatment of life-threatening conditions. Bedside emergency echocardiography can rapidly identify significant pathology such as pericardial effusions and tamponade, right ventricle dilatation due to pulmonary embolism, and cardiac hypokinesis, and aid in the diagnosis and management of patients in emergency department (ED).

Case Report: A 41-year-old man presented twice to the ED with history of abdominal pain and was diagnosed with primary cardiac angiosarcoma with point-of-care ultrasound.

Conclusion: This case is illustrative of how bedside cardiac ultrasound in the ED can dramatically change a patient’s hospital course. [West J Emerg Med. 2011;12(4):478–480.]

Bedside Ultrasound Diagnosis of Acalculous Cholecystitis from Ebstein-Barr Virus

Acalculous cholecystitis is thought to occur in patients with a severe systemic illness or during long periods of intravenous nutrition. We discuss a case of acalculous cholecystitis secondary to Ebstein-Barr virus detected by bedside ultrasound. We hope to alert clinicians who are actively using bedside of an important, yet not commonly discussed association. [West J Emerg Med. 2011;12(4): 481–483.]

Comparison of Metallic Foreign Body Removal between Dynamic Ultrasound and Static Radiography in a Pigs’ Feet Model

Introduction: We compared the immediate cosmetic outcome of metallic foreign-body removal by emergency medicine (EM) residents with ultrasound guidance and conventional radiography.

Methods: This single-blinded, randomized, crossover study evaluated the ability of EM residents to remove metallic pins embedded in pigs’ feet. Before the experiment, we embedded 1.5-cm metallic pins into numbered pigs’ feet. We randomly assigned 14 EM residents to use either ultrasound or radiography to help remove the foreign body. Residents had minimal ultrasound experience. After a brief lecture, we provided residents with a scalpel, laceration kit, a bedside portable ultrasound machine, nipple markers, paper clips, a dedicated radiograph technician, and radiograph machine 20 feet away. After removal, 3 board-certified emergency physicians, who were blinded to the study group, evaluated the soft-tissue model by using a standardized form. They recorded incision length and cosmetic appearance on the Visual Analogue Scale.

Results: In total, 28 foreign bodies were removed. No significant difference in the time of removal (P¼ 0.12), cosmetic appearance (P ¼ 0.96), or incision length (P ¼ 0.76) was found.

Conclusion: This study showed no difference between bedside ultrasound and radiography in assisting EM residents with metallic foreign-body removal from soft tissue. No significant difference was found in removal time or cosmetic outcome when comparing ultrasound with radiography.


Assessment of a Chief Complaint–Based Curriculum for Resident Education in Geriatric Emergency Medicine

Introduction: We hypothesized that a geriatric chief complaint–based didactic curriculum would improve resident documentation of elderly patient care in the emergency department (ED).

Methods: A geriatric chief complaint curriculum addressing the 3 most common chief complaints—abdominal pain, weakness, and falls—was developed and presented. A pre- and postcurriculum implementation chart review assessed resident documentation of the 5 components of geriatric ED care: 1) differential diagnosis/patient evaluation considering atypical presentations, 2) determination of baseline function, 3) chronic care facility/caregiver communication, 4) cognitive assessment, and 5) assessment of polypharmacy. A single reviewer assessed 5 pre- and 5 postimplementation charts for each of 18 residents included in the study. We calculated 95% confidence and determined that statistical significance was determined by a 2-tailed z test for 2 proportions, with statistical significance at 0.003 by Bonferroni correction.

Results: For falls, resident documentation improved significantly for 1 of 5 measures. For abdominal pain, 2 of 5 components improved. For weakness, 3 of 5 components improved.

Conclusion: A geriatric chief complaint–based curriculum improved emergency medicine resident documentation for the care of elderly patients in the ED compared with a non–age-specific chief complaint–based curriculum. [West J Emerg Med. 2011;12(4):484–488.]

Physician and Nurse Acceptance of Technicians to Screen for Geriatric Syndromes in the Emergency Department

Introduction: The objective of this study was to evaluate emergency medicine physician and nurse acceptance of nonnurse, nonphysician screening for geriatric syndromes.

Methods: This was a single-center emergency department (ED) survey of physicians and nurses after an 8-month project. Geriatric technicians were paid medical student research assistants evaluating consenting ED patients older than 65 years for cognitive dysfunction, fall risk, or functional decline. The primary objective of this anonymous survey was to evaluate ED nurse and physician perceptions about the geriatric screener feasibility and barriers to implementation. In addition, as a secondary objective, respondents reported ongoing geriatric screening efforts independent of the research screeners.

Results: The survey was completed by 72% of physicians and 33% of nurses. Most nurses and physicians identified geriatric technicians as beneficial to patients without impeding ED throughput. Fewer than 25% of physicians routinely screen for any geriatric syndromes. Nurses evaluated for fall risk significantly more often than physicians, but no other significant differences were noted in ongoing screening efforts.

Conclusion: Dedicated geriatric technicians are perceived by nurses and physicians as beneficial to patients with the potential to improve patient safety and clinical outcomes. Most nurses and physicians are not currently screening for any geriatric syndromes. [West J Emerg Med. 2011;12(4):489–495.]

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Blunt Abdominal Trauma Patients Are at Very Low Risk for Intra-Abdominal Injury after Emergency Department Observation

Introduction: Patients are commonly admitted to the hospital for observation following blunt abdominal trauma (BAT), despite initially negative emergency department (ED) evaluations. With the current use of screening technology, such as computed tomography (CT) of the abdomen and pelvis, ultrasound, and laboratory evaluations, it is unclear which patients require observation. The objective of this study was to determine the prevalence of intra-abdominal injury (IAI) and death in hemodynamically normal and stable BAT patients with initially negative ED evaluations admitted to an ED observation unit and to define a low-risk subgroup of patients and assess whether they may be discharged without abdominal/pelvic CT or observation. Methods: This was a retrospective cohort study performed at an urban level 1 trauma center and included all BAT patients admitted to an ED observation unit as part of a BAT key clinical pathway. All were observed for at least 8 hours as part of the key clinical pathway, and only minors and pregnant women were excluded. Outcomes included the presence of IAI or death during a 40-month follow-up period. Prior to data collection, low-risk criteria were defined as no intoxication, no hypotension or tachycardia, no abdominal pain or tenderness, no hematuria, and no distracting injury. To be considered low risk, patients needed to meet all low-risk criteria. Results: Of the 1,169 patients included over the 2-year study period, 29% received a CT of the abdomen and pelvis, 6% were admitted to the hospital from the observation unit for further management, 0.4% (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.1%–1%) were diagnosed with IAI, and 0% (95% CI, 0%–0.3%) died. Patients had a median combined ED and observation length of stay of 9.5 hours. Of the 237 (20%) patients who met low-risk criteria, 7% had a CT of the abdomen and pelvis and 0% (95% CI, 0%–1.5%) were diagnosed with IAI or died. Conclusion: Most BAT patients who have initially negative ED evaluations are at low risk for IAI but still require some combination of observation and CT. A subgroup of BAT patients may be safely discharged without CT or observation after the initial evaluation. [West J Emerg Med. 2011;12(4):496–504.]

Pylephlebitis: An Uncommon Complication of Intra-Abdominal Infection

We herein present a case of pylephlebitis, which is an infective suppurative thrombosis of the portal vein. Pylephlebitis is an uncommon complication of intra-abdominal infections and carries with it significant morbidity and mortality. [West J Emerg Med. 2011;12(4):575–576.]

Severe Open Ankle Sprain

[West J Emerg Med. 2011;12(4):581–582.]


In-Training Practice Patterns of Combined Emergency Medicine/Internal Medicine Residents, 2003-2007

Introduction: This study seeks to evaluate the practice patterns of current combined emergency medicine/internal medicine (EM/IM) residents during their training and compare them to the typical practice patterns of EM/IM graduates. We further seek to characterize how these current residents perceive the EM/IM physician’s niche.

Methods: This is a multi-institution, cross-sectional, survey-based cohort study. Between June 2008 and July 2008, all 112 residents of the 11 EM/IM programs listed by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education were contacted and asked to complete a survey concerning plans for certification, fellowship, and practice setting.

Results: The adjusted response rate was 71%. All respondents anticipated certifying in both specialties, with 47% intending to pursue fellowships. Most residents (97%) allotted time to both EM and IM, with a median time of 70% and 30%, respectively. Concerning academic medicine, 81% indicated intent to practice academic medicine, and 96% planned to allocate at least 10% of their future time to a university/academic setting. In evaluating satisfaction, 94% were (1) satisfied with their residency choice, (2) believed that a combined residency will advance their career, and (3) would repeat a combined residency if given the opportunity.

Conclusion: Current EM/IM residents were very content with their training and the overwhelming majority of residents plan to devote time to the practice of academic medicine. Relative to the practice patterns previously observed in EM/IM graduates, the current residents are more inclined toward pursuing fellowships and practicing both specialties. [West J Emerg Med. 2011;12(4):530–536.]

Feedback in the Emergency Medicine Clerkships

Objective: Feedback is a technique used in medical education to help develop and improve clinical skills. A comprehensive review article specifically intended for the emergency medicine (EM) educator is lacking, and it is the intent of this article to provide the reader with an in-depth, up-to-date, and evidence-based review of feedback in the context of the EM clerkship. Methods: The review article is organized in a progressive manner, beginning with the definition of feedback, the importance of feedback in medical education, and the obstacles limiting the effective delivery of feedback, and the techniques to overcome these obstacles then follows. The article concludes with practical recommendations to implement feedback in the EM clerkship. To advance the literature on feedback, the concept of receiving feedback is introduced. Results: The published literature regarding feedback is limited but generally supportive of its importance and effectiveness. Obstacles in the way of feedback include time constraints, lack of direct observation, and fear of negative emotional responses from students. Feedback should be timely, expected, focused, based on first-hand data, and limited to behaviors that are remediable. Faculty development and course structure can improve feedback in the EM clerkship. Teaching students to receive feedback is a novel educational technique that can improve the feedback process. Conclusion: Feedback is an important educational technique necessary to improve clinical skills. Feedback can be delivered effectively in the EM clerkship. [West J Emerg Med. 2011;12(4):537–542.]

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Advanced Topics in Emergency Medicine: Curriculum Development and Initial Evaluation

Background: Emergency medicine (EM) is a young specialty and only recently has a recommended medical student curriculum been developed. Currently, many schools do not require students to complete a mandatory clerkship in EM, and if one is required, it is typically an overview of the specialty.

Objectives: We developed a 10-month longitudinal elective to teach subject matter and skills in EM to fourth-year medical students interested in the specialty. Our goal was producing EM residents with the knowledge and skills to excel at the onset of their residency. We hoped to prove that students participating in this rigorous 10-month longitudinal EM elective would feel well prepared for residency.

Methods: We studied the program with an end-of-the-year, Internet-based, comprehensive course evaluation completed by each participant of the first 2 years of the course. Graduates rated each of the course components by using a 5-point Likert format from ‘‘strongly disagree’’ to ‘‘strongly agree,’’ either in terms of whether the component was beneficial to them or whether the course expectations were appropriate, or their perceptions related to the course.

Results: Graduates of this elective have reported feeling well prepared to start residency. The resident-led teaching shifts, Advanced Pediatric Life Support certification, Grand Rounds presentations, Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support proficiency testing, and ultrasound component, were found to be beneficial by all students.

Conclusions: Our faculty believes that participating students will be better prepared for an EM residency than those students just completing a 1-month clerkship. Our data, although limited, lead us to believe that a longitudinal, immersion-type experience assists fourth-year medical students in preparation for residency. [West J Emerg Med. 2011;12(4):543–550.]


Cutaneous Conditions Leading to Dermatology Consultations in the Emergency Department

Introduction: We established the most common cutaneous diseases that received dermatology consultation in the adult emergency department (ED) and identified differentiating clinical characteristics of dermatoses that required hospital admission.

Methods: A retrospective chart review of 204 patients presenting to the ED who received dermatology consultations at Los Angeles County/University of Southern California Medical Center, an urban tertiary care teaching hospital.

Results: Of all patients, 18% were admitted to an inpatient unit primarily for their cutaneous disease, whereas 82% were not. Of nonadmitted patients, the most commonly diagnosed conditions were eczematous dermatitis not otherwise specified (8.9%), scabies (7.2%), contact dermatitis (6.6%), cutaneous drug eruption (6.0%), psoriasis vulgaris (4.2%), and basal cell carcinoma (3.6%). Of patients admitted for their dermatoses, the most highly prevalent conditions were erythema multiforme major/Stevens-Johnson syndrome (22%), pemphigus vulgaris (14%), and severe cutaneous drug eruption (11%). When compared with those of nonadmitted patients, admitted skin conditions were more likely to be generalized (92% vs 72%; P = 0.0104), acute in onset (< 1 month duration) (81% vs 51%; P = 0.0005), painful (41% vs 15%; P = 0.0009), blistering (41% vs 7.8%; P < 0.0001), and ulcerated or eroded (46% vs 7.8%; P < 0.0001). They were more likely to involve the mucosa (54% vs 7.2%; P < 0.0001) and less likely to be pruritic (35% vs 58%; P = 0.0169).

Conclusion: We have described a cohort of patients receiving dermatologic consultation in the ED of a large urban teaching hospital. These data identify high-risk features of more severe skin disease and may be used to refine curricula in both emergency and nonemergency cutaneous disorders for emergency physicians. [West J Emerg Med. 2011;12(4):551–555.]

Erythema Gyratum Repens: A Rare Paraneoplastic Rash

Erythema gyratum repens (EGR) is a rare, and characteristic, paraneoplastic rash associated with a variety of malignancies, most notably lung, esophageal, and breast cancers. This case report details the appearance, epidemiology, diagnosis, and treatment of EGR. Prompt identification of EGR is essential, as the rash often precedes the diagnosis of malignancy by several months. Urgent patient referral to evaluate for malignancy is crucial, as this may lead to decreased morbidity and mortality. [West J Emerg Med. 2011;12(4):556–558.]

Drug Rash with Eosinophilia and Systemic Symptoms: Two Emergency Department Cases

Drug rash with eosinophilia and systemic symptoms (DRESS) is a rare, severe adverse drug event that appears with a generalized rash, fevers, and dysfunction of 1 or more organ systems. We describe 2 patients (1 adult and 1 pediatric) seen in the emergency department with DRESS, and review the clinical presentations, potential complications, and management of DRESS. Although rare, it can be associated with significant morbidity, including liver failure and death, and should be considered in the differential diagnosis of patients with diffuse rash and systemic symptoms. [West J Emerg Med. 2011;12(4):559–562.]

A Desert Rash

A 29-year-old man presented to the emergency department (ED) with a rash across his chest and abdomen. The rash began 2 hours before his arrival and was initially pruritic, but subsequently became painful. The patient also complained of acute onset of aching pain in both hips and his left arm. He denied associated chest pain or dyspnea, and had no paresthesias or disequilibrium. Routine laboratory studies and chest radiograph were normal. Earlier in the day, the patient had completed a dive to 235 feet in depth in Lake Mead, Nevada, but reported a very controlled ascent with appropriate decompression stops. Two days earlier, he had completed a dive to 315 feet in Lake Mead without any problems. [West J Emerg Med. 2011;12(4):563–564.]


Cardiac Arrest from Postpartum Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection

We present the case of a 32-year-old woman who presented to the emergency department with a witnessed cardiac arrest. She was otherwise healthy with no cardiac risk factors and had undergone an uneventful repeated cesarean section 3 days priorly. The patient underwent defibrillation, out of ventricular fibrillation to a perfusing sinus rhythm, and was taken to the catheterization laboratory where coronary angiography findings showed spontaneous dissection of the left anterior descending artery. The patient received a total of 6 stents during her hospital stay and was eventually discharged in good condition. Spontaneous coronary artery dissection is a rare entity with a predilection for pregnant or postpartum women. Early diagnosis and treatment are key for survival, and when identified early, mortality is good. [West J Emerg Med. 2011;12(4):567–570.]

Acute Aortic Dissection in a Third Trimester Pregnancy without Risk Factors

Spontaneous aortic dissection in pregnancy is rare and life threatening for both the mother and the fetus. Most commonly, it is associated with connective tissue disorders, cardiac valve variants, or trauma. We present the case of a 23-year-old previously healthy woman, 36 weeks pregnant with a syncopal episode after dyspnea and vomiting. She subsequently developed cardiac arrest and underwent aggressive resuscitation, emergent thoracotomy, and cesarean delivery without recovery. On autopsy, she was found to have an aortic dissection of the ascending aorta. This case is presented to raise awareness and review the literature and the clinical approach to critical care for pregnant patients. [West J Emerg Med. 2011;12(4):571–574.]

Pacemarker Limitation of Tachycardia in Hypovolemic Shock

A 49-year-old white man was admitted to the emergency department with nausea and diarrhea of 11 hours duration. He had experienced crampy abdominal pain as well. He reported that his stools had been dark and malodorous. He had no prior history of gastrointestinal disorders, nor travel, unusual oral or liquid intake. There was a remote history of alcohol abuse, but no hepatitis or cirrhosis. Recent alcohol intake was denied by the patient. He had no medical allergies. His past medical history was pertinent for a history of hypertension, congestive heart failure, and a dual chamber pacemaker insertion. There was no history of diabetes mellitus, smoking, or myocardial infarction. Medications included lisinopril, a small dose of aspirin daily, and thyroid supplement. Family history was negative for cardiomyopathy, sudden cardiac death, gastric or duodenal ulcers, colon cancer, or any congenital abnormalities. [West J Emerg Med. 2011;12(4):565–566.]

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