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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Volume 15, Issue 4, 2014

Critical Care

Continuous Hemodynamic Monitoring in Acute Stroke: An Exploratory Analysis

Introduction: Non-invasive, continuous hemodynamic monitoring is entering the clinical arena. The primary objective of this study was to test the feasibility of such monitoring in a pilot sample of Emergency Department (ED) stroke patients. Secondary objectives included analysis of hemodynamic variability and correlation of continuous blood pressure measurements with standard measurements.

Methods: This study was a secondary analysis of 7 stroke patients from a prospectively collected data set of patients that received 2 hours of hemodynamic monitoring in the ED. Stroke patients were included if hemorrhagic or ischemic stroke was confirmed by neuroimaging, and symptom onset was within 24 hours. They were excluded for the presence of a stroke mimic or transient ischemic attack. Monitoring was performed using the Nexfin device (Edwards Lifesciences, Irvine CA).

Results: The mean age of the cohort was 71 ± 17 years, 43% were male, and the mean National Institute of Health Stroke Scale (NIHSS) was 6.9 ± 5.5. Two patients had hemorrhagic stroke. We obtained 42,456 hemodynamic data points, including beat-to-beat blood pressure measurements with variability of 18 mmHg and cardiac indices ranging from 1.8 to 3.6 l/min/m2. The correlation coefficient between continuous blood pressure measurements with the Nexfin device and standard ED readings was 0.83.

Conclusion: This exploratory investigation revealed that continuous, noninvasive monitoring in the ED is feasible in acute stroke. Further research is currently underway to determine how such monitoring may impact outcomes in stroke or replace the need for invasive monitoring. [West J Emerg Med. 2014;15(4):345-350.]

Diagnostic Acumen

Pediatric Patient with a Rash

A 2 year old fully immunized male with no personal history of chicken pox presented to the emergency department with a chief complaint of a rash for one week after returning from a hiking trip in a remote island in Canada. After initially being diagnosed with contact dermatitis, a diagnosis of herpes zoster was made by confirmatory viral polymerase chain reaction testing. The purpose of this case report is to examine the literature for the incidence and etiology of shingles in children without a prior history of a primary varicella rash outbreak. [West J Emerg Med. 2014;15(4):372-374.]

A Case of Rivaroxaban Associated Intracranial Hemorrhage

Rivaroxaban is a newer anticoagulant initially approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat nonvalvular atrial fibrillation. Rivaroxaban has several characteristics that are more favorable than warfarin. One of the characteristics is decreased risk of hemorrhage. We report one of the first case reports of severe intracranial hemorrhage associated with rivaroxaban in an elderly patient with decreased renal function. We aim to alert emergency medicine providers regarding the likelihood of encountering these patient as newer anticoagulants rise in popularity. [West J Emerg Med. 2014;15(4):375-377.]

Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning: A Case Series

We describe a case series of seven patients presenting to an emergency department with symptoms of paralytic shellfish poisoning. They developed varying degrees of nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, ataxia and paresthesias after eating mussels harvested from a beach near their resort. Four patients were admitted to the hospital, one due to increasing respiratory failure requiring endotracheal intubation and the remainder for respiratory monitoring. All patients made a full recovery, most within 24 hours. The ability to recognize and identify paralytic shellfish poisoning and manage its complications are important to providers of emergency medicine. [West J Emerg Med. 2014;15(4):378-381.]

Bilateral Hydronephrosis and Cystitis Resulting from Chronic Ketamine Abuse

Ketamine associated urinary dysfunction has become increasingly more common worldwide. Point-of-care ultrasound (POCUS) is an established modality for diagnosing hydronephrosis in the emergency department. We describe a case of a young male ketamine abuser with severe urinary urgency and frequency in which POCUS performed by the emergency physician demonstrated bilateral hydronephrosis and a focally thickened irregular shaped bladder. Emergency physicians should consider using POCUS evaluate for hydronephrosis and bladder changes in ketamine abusers with lower urinary tract symptoms. The mainstay of treatment is discontinuing ketamine abuse. [West J Emerg Med. 2014;15(4):382–384.]

Facial Firework Injury: A Case Series

Fireworks are used to celebrate a variety of religious, patriotic, and cultural holidays and events around the world. Fireworks are common in the United States, with the most popular holiday for their use being national Independence Day, also known as July Fourth. The use of fireworks within the context of celebrations and holidays presents the ideal environment for accidents that lead to severe and dangerous injuries. Injuries to the face from explosions present a challenging problem in terms of restoring ideal ocular, oral, and facial function. Despite the well documented prevalence of firework use and injury, there is a relatively large deficit in the literature in terms of firework injury that involves the face. We present a unique case series that includes 4 adult male patients all with severe firework injuries to the face that presented at an urban level 1 trauma center. These four patients had an average age of 26.7 years old and presented within 5 hours of each other starting on July Fourth. Two patients died from their injuries and two patients underwent reconstructive surgical management, one of which had two follow up surgeries. We explore in detail their presentation, management, and subsequent outcomes as an attempt to add to the very limited data in the field of facial firework blast injury. In addition, the coincidence of their presentation within the same 5 hours brings into question the availability of the fireworks involved, and the possibility of similar injuries related to this type of firework in the future.  [West J Emerg Med. 2014;15(4):387-393.]

Acute Mesenteric Venous Thrombosis with a Vaginal Contraceptive Ring

Mesenteric venous thrombosis is a rare cause of abdominal pain, which if left untreated may result in bowel infarction, peritonitis and death. The majority of patients with this illness have a recognizable, predisposing prothrombotic condition. Oral contraceptives have been identified as a predisposing factor for mesenteric venous thrombosis in reproductive-aged women. In the last fifteen years new methods of hormonal birth control have been introduced, including a transdermal patch and an intravaginal ring. In this report, we describe a case of mesenteric venous thrombosis in a young woman caused by a vaginal contraceptive ring. [West J Emerg Med.]

Emergency Department Administration

Emergency Medicine Clerkship Directors: Current Work Force

Introduction: The emergency medicine clerkship director serves an important role in the education of medical students. The authors sought to update the demographic and academic profile of the emergency medicine clerkship director. Methods: We developed and implemented a comprehensive questionnaire, and used it to survey all emergency medicine clerkship directors at United States allopathic medical schools accredited by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education. We analyzed and interpreted data using descriptive statistics.Results: One hundred seven of 133 (80.4%) emergency medicine clerkship directors completed the survey. Clerkship Director’s mean age was 39.7 years (SD-7.2), they were more commonly male 68.2%, of Caucasian racial backgrounds and at the instructor or assistant professor (71.3%) level. The mean number of years of experience as clerkship director was 5.5 (SD-4.5). The mean amount of protected time for clerkship administration reported by respondents was 7.3 hours weekly (SD-5.1), with the majority (53.8%) reporting 6 or more hours of protected time per week. However, 32.7% of emergency medicine clerkship directors reported not having any protected time for clerkship administration. Most clerkship directors (91.6%) held additional teaching responsibilities beyond their clerkship and many were involved in educational research (49.5%). The majority (79.8%), reported being somewhat or very satisfied with their job as clerkship director. Conclusion: Most clerkship directors were junior faculty at the instructor or assistant professor rank and were involved with a variety of educational endeavors beyond the clerkship. [West J Emerg Med. 2014;15(4):498–403.]

Education

Effect of Prior Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation Knowledge on Compression Performance by Hospital Providers

Introduction: The purpose of this study was to determine cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) knowledge of hospital providers and whether knowledge affects performance of effective compressions during a simulated cardiac arrest.

Methods: This cross-sectional study evaluated the CPR knowledge and performance of medical students and ED personnel with current CPR certification. We collected data regarding compression rate, hand placement, depth, and recoil via a questionnaire to determine knowledge, and then we assessed performance using 60 seconds of compressions on a simulation mannequin.

Results: Data from 200 enrollments were analyzed by evaluators blinded to subject knowledge. Regarding knowledge, 94% of participants correctly identified parameters for rate, 58% for hand placement, 74% for depth, and 94% for recoil. Participants identifying an effective rate of  ≥100 performed compressions at a significantly higher rate than participants identifying <100 (µ=117 vs. 94, p<0.001). Participants identifying correct hand placement performed significantly more compressions adherent to guidelines than those identifying incorrect placement (µ=86% vs. 72%, p<0.01). No significant differences were found in depth or recoil performance based on knowledge of guidelines.

Conclusion: Knowledge of guidelines was variable; however, CPR knowledge significantly impacted certain aspects of performance, namely rate and hand placement, whereas depth and recoil were not affected. Depth of compressions was poor regardless of prior knowledge, and knowledge did not correlate with recoil performance. Overall performance was suboptimal and additional training may be needed to ensure consistent, effective performance and therefore better outcomes after cardiopulmonary arrest. [West J Emerg Med. 2014;15(4):404-408.]

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Assessing Knowledge Based on the Geriatric Competencies for Emergency Medicine Residents

Introduction: Emergency care of older adults requires specialized knowledge of their unique physiology, atypical presentations, and care transitions. Older adults often require distinctive assessment, treatment and disposition. Emergency medicine (EM) residents should develop expertise and efficiency in geriatric care. Older adults represent over 25% of most emergency department (ED) volumes. Yet many EM residencies lack curricula or assessment tools for competent geriatric care. Fully educating residents in emergency geriatric care can demand large amounts of limited conference time. The Geriatric Emergency Medicine Competencies (GEMC) are high-impact geriatric topics developed to help residencies efficiently and effectively meet this training demand. This study examines if a 2-hour didactic intervention can significantly improve resident knowledge in 7 key domains as identified by the GEMC across multiple programs.

Methods: A validated 29-question didactic test was administered at six EM residencies before and after a GEMC-focused lecture delivered in summer and fall of 2009. We analyzed scores as individual questions and in defined topic domains using a paired student t test.

Results: A total of 301 exams were administered; 86 to PGY1, 88 to PGY2, 86 to PGY3, and 41 to PGY4 residents. The testing of didactic knowledge before and after the GEMC educational intervention had high internal reliability (87.9%). The intervention significantly improved scores in all 7 GEMC domains (improvement 13.5% to 34.6%; p<0.001). For all questions, the improvement was 23% (37.8% pre, 60.8% post; P<0.001) Graded increase in geriatric knowledge occurred by PGY year with the greatest improvement post intervention seen at the PGY 3 level (PGY1 19.1% versus PGY3 27.1%).

Conclusion: A brief GEMC intervention had a significant impact on EM resident knowledge of critical geriatric topics. Lectures based on the GEMC can be a high-yield tool to enhance resident knowledge of geriatric emergency care. Formal GEMC curriculum should be considered in training EM residents for the demands of an aging population. [West J Emerg Med. 2014;15(4):409-413.]

Improving Understanding of Medical Research: Audience Response Technology for Community Consultation for Exception to Informed Consent

Introduction: The Department of Health and Human Services and Food and Drug Administration described guidelines for exception from informed consent (EFIC) research. These guidelines require community consultation (CC) events, which allow members of the community to understand the study, provide feedback and give advice. A real-time gauge of audience understanding would allow the speaker to modify the discussion. The objective of the study is to describe the use of audience response survey (ARS) technology in EFIC CCs.

Methods: As part of the Rapid Anticonvulsant Medication Prior to Arrival Trial (RAMPART), 13 CC events were conducted. We prepared a PowerPoint™ presentation with 4 embedded ARS questions,according to specific IRB guidelines to ensure that the pertinent information would reach our targeted audience. During 6 CCs, an ARS was used to gauge audience comprehension. Participants completed paper surveys regarding their opinion of the study following each CC. Results: The ARS was used with minimal explanation and only one ARS was lost. Greater than 80% of the participants correctly answered 3 of the 4 ARS questions with 61% correctly answering the question regarding EFIC. A total of 105 participants answered the paper survey; 80-90% of the responses to the paper survey were either strongly agree or agree. The average scores on the paper survey in the ARS sites compared to the non-ARS sites were significantly more positive.

Conclusion: The use of an audience response system during the community consultation aspects of EFIC is feasible and provides a real-time assessment of audience comprehension of the study and EFIC process. It may improve the community’s opinion and support of the study. [West J Emerg Med. 2014;15(4):414-418.]

Analysis of the Evaluative Components on the Standard Letter of Recommendation (SLOR) in Emergency Medicine

Introduction: The standard letter of recommendation in emergency medicine (SLOR) was developed to standardize the evaluation of applicants, improve inter-rater reliability, and discourage grade inflation. The primary objective of this study was to describe the distribution of categorical variables on the SLOR in order to characterize scoring tendencies of writers.

Methods: We performed a retrospective review of all SLORs written on behalf of applicants to the three Emergency Medicine residency programs in the University of Arizona Health Network (i.e. the University Campus program, the South Campus program and the Emergency Medicine/Pediatrics combined program) in 2012. All “Qualifications for Emergency Medicine” and “Global Assessment” variables were analyzed.

Results: 1457 SLORs were reviewed, representing 26.7% of the total number of Electronic Residency Application Service applicants for the academic year. Letter writers were most likely to use the highest/most desirable category on “Qualifications for EM” variables (50.7%) and to use the second highest category on “Global Assessments” (43.8%). For 4-point scale variables, 91% of all responses were in one of the top two ratings. For 3-point scale variables, 94.6% were in one of the top two ratings. Overall, the lowest/least desirable ratings were used less than 2% of the time.

Conclusions: SLOR letter writers do not use the full spectrum of categories for each variable proportionately. Despite the attempt to discourage grade inflation, nearly all variable responses on the SLOR are in the top two categories. Writers use the lowest categories less than 2% of the time. Program Directors should consider tendencies of SLOR writers when reviewing SLORs of potential applicants to their programs. [West J Emerg Med. 2014;15(4):419-423.]

Deliberate Apprenticeship in the Pediatric Emergency Department Improves Experience for Third-year Medical Students

INTRODUCTION: The Pediatric Emergency Department (PED) provides medical students with learning in a high-volume, fast-paced environment; characteristics that can be stressful for new students.  Shadowing can improve transitioning, yet this alone does not facilitate students’ development of independent medical care competencies. This study evaluates if third-year medical students’ deliberate apprenticeship with senior residents increases students’ comfort and patient exposure in the PED.

METHODS: This study took place over the 2011-2012 academic year, and study participants were all third-year medical students during their pediatric clerkship rotation. This was a prospective educational intervention assigning students to randomized control blocks of deliberate apprenticeship (DA) intervention or control. DA students were paired with a senior resident who oriented and worked with the student, while control students were unpaired. All students completed a 20-question structured survey at shift end, which included questions about their perception of the learning environment, comfort with, and number of patient care responsibilities performed.  We used independent Mann-Whitney and t-tests to compare experiences between the groups. Statistical significance was defined as p<0.05. We used the constant comparative method to qualitatively analyze students’ comments.

RESULTS: Response rate was 85% (145/169). Students also rated on 5-point Likert-scale their level of comfort with defined aspects of working in the PED. DA students (n=76) were significantly more comfortable obtaining histories (4.2 versus 3.8) and formulating differential diagnoses (3.9 versus 3.4). DA students also performed more physical exams (2.9 versus 2.4). We categorized themes from the qualitative analysis of the students’ comments about their PED experience. The titles for these themes are as follows: PED provides a good learning experience; uncertainty about the medical student’s role in the PED;  third-year medical students compete with other learners for teaching attention; opportunities provided to medical students for inclusion in patient care; personal knowledge deficits limit the ability to participate in the PED; PED pace affects learning opportunities.

CONCLUSION: DA constitutes a feasible approach to the clinical learning environment that increases students’ patient care experiences and may ease transitioning for undergraduate medical students to new clinical environments. [West J Emerg Med.–0]

Emergency Department Operations

Unrecognized Hypoxia and Respiratory Depression in Emergency Department Patients Sedated for Psychomotor Agitation: A Pilot Study

Introduction: The incidence of respiratory depression in patients who are chemically sedated in the emergency department (ED) is not well understood. As the drugs used for chemical restraint are respiratory depressants, improving respiratory monitoring practice in the ED may be warranted. The objective of this study is to describe the incidence of respiratory depression in patients chemically sedated for violent behavior and psychomotor agitation in the ED.

Methods: Adult patients who met eligibility criteria with psychomotor agitation and violent behavior who were chemically sedated were eligible. SpO2 and ETCO2 (end-tidal CO2) was recorded and saved every 5 seconds. Demographic data, history of drug or alcohol abuse, medical and psychiatric history, HR and BP every 5 minutes, any physician intervention for hypoxia or respiratory depression, or adverse events were also recorded. We defined respiratory depression as an ETCO2 of >50 mmHg, a change of 10% above or below baseline, or a loss of waveform for >15 seconds. Hypoxia was defined as a SpO2 of <93% for >15 seconds.

Results: We enrolled 59 patients, and excluded 9 because of >35% data loss. Twenty-eight (28/50) patients developed respiratory depression at least once during their chemical restraint (56%, 95% CI 42-69%); the median number of events was 2 (range 1-6).  Twenty-one (21/50) patients had at least one hypoxic event during their chemical restraint (42%, 95% CI 29-55%); the median number of events was 2 (range 1-5). Nineteen (19/21) (90%, 95% CI 71-97%) of the patients that developed hypoxia had a corresponding ETCO2 change. Fifteen (15/19) (79%, 95% CI 56-91%) patients who became hypoxic met criteria for respiratory depression before the onset of hypoxia. The sensitivity of ETCO2 to predict the onset of a hypoxic event was 90.48% (95% CI: 68-98%) and specificity 69% (95% CI: 49-84%).  Five patients received respiratory interventions from the healthcare team to improve respiration [Airway repositioning: (2), Verbal stimulation: (3)]. Thirty-seven patients had a history of concurrent drug or alcohol abuse and 24  had a concurrent psychiatric history.  None of these patients had a major adverse event.

Conclusion:  About half of the patients in this study exhibited respiratory depression. Many of these patients went on to have a hypoxic event, and most of the incidences of hypoxia were preceded by respiratory depression. Few of these events were recognized by their treating physicians. [West J Emerg Med. 2014;15(4):430-437.]

Characteristics of United States Emergency Departments that Routinely Perform Alcohol Risk Screening and Counseling for Patients Presenting with Drinking–related Complaints

Introduction: Emergency department (ED) screening and counseling for alcohol misuse have been shown to reduce at-risk drinking. However, barriers to more widespread adoption of this service remain unclear.

Methods: We performed a secondary analysis of a nationwide survey of 277 EDs to determine the proportion of EDs that routinely perform alcohol screening and counseling among patients presenting with alcohol-related complaints and to identify potential institutional barriers and facilitators to routine screening and counseling. The survey was randomly mailed to 350 EDs sampled from the 2007 National Emergency Department Inventory (NEDI), with 80% of ED medical directors responding after receiving the mailing or follow-up fax/email. The survey asked about a variety of preventive services and ED directors’ opinions regarding perceived barriers to offering preventive services in their EDs.

Results: Overall, only 27% of all EDs and 22% of Level I/II trauma center EDs reported routinely screening and counseling patients presenting with drinking-related complaints. Rates of routine screening and counseling were similar across geographic areas, crowding status, and urban-rural status. EDs that performed routine screening and counseling often offered other preventive services, such as tobacco cessation (P<0.01) and primary care linkage (P=0.01). EDs with directors who expressed concern about increased financial costs to the ED, inadequate follow-up, and diversion of nurse/physician time all had lower rates of screening and counseling and also more frequently reported lacking the perceived capacity to perform routine counseling and screening. Among EDs that did not routinely perform alcohol screening and counseling, more crowded than non-crowded (P<0.01) and more metro than rural (P<0.01) EDs reported lacking the capacity to perform routine screening and counseling. The capacity to perform routine screening also decreased as ED visit volume increased (P=0.04).

Conclusion: To increase routine alcohol screening and counseling for patients presenting with alcohol-related complaints, ED directors’ perceived barriers related to an ED’s capacity to perform screening, such as limited financial and staff resources, should be addressed, as should directors’ concerns regarding the implementation of preventive health services in EDs. Uniform reimbursement methods should be used to increase ED compensation for performing this important and effective service. [West J Emerg Med. 2014;15(4):438-445.]

Application of a Proactive Risk Analysis to Emergency Department Sickle Cell Care

Introduction: Patients with sickle cell disease (SCD) often seek care in emergency departments (EDs) for severe pain. However, there is evidence that they experience inaccurate assessment, suboptimal care, and inadequate follow-up referrals. The aim of this project was to 1) explore the feasibility of applying a failure modes, effects and criticality analysis (FMECA) in two EDs examining four processes of care (triage, analgesic management, high risk/high users, and referrals made) for patients with SCD, and 2) report the failures of these care processes in each ED.

Methods: A FMECA was conducted of ED SCD patient care at two hospitals. A multidisciplinary group examined each step of four processes. Providers identified failures in each step, and then characterized the frequency, impact, and safeguards, resulting in risk categorization.

Results: Many “high risk” failures existed in both institutions, including a lack of recognition of high-risk or high-user patients and a lack of emphasis on psychosocial referrals. Specific to SCD analgesic management, one setting inconsistently used existing analgesic policies, while the other setting did not have such policies.

Conclusion: FMECA facilitated the identification of failures of ED SCD care and has guided quality improvement activities. Interventions can focus on improvements in these specific areas targeting improvements in the delivery and organization of ED SCD care. Improvements should correspond with the forthcoming National Heart, Lung and Blood-sponsored guidelines for treatment of patients with sickle cell disease. [West J Emerg Med. 2014;15(4):446–458.]

Adherence to Head Computed Tomography Guidelines in the Setting of Mild Traumatic Brain Injury

Introduction: Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a significant health concern. While 70-90% of TBI cases are considered mild, decision-making regarding imaging can be difficult. This survey aimed to assess whether clinicians’ decision-making was consistent with the most recent American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) clinical recommendations regarding indications for a non-contrast head computed tomography (CT) in patients with mild TBI.

Methods: We surveyed 2 academic emergency medicine departments. Six realistic clinical vignettes were created. The survey software randomly varied 2 factors: age (30, 59, or 61 years old) and presence or absence of visible trauma above the clavicles. A single important question was asked: “Would you perform a non-contrast head CT on this patient?”

Results: Physician decision-making was consistent with the guidelines in only 62.8% of total vignettes. By age group (30, 59, and 61), decision-making was consistent with the guidelines in 66.7%, 47.4%, and 72.7% of cases, respectively. This was a statistically-significant difference when comparing the 59- and 61-year-old age groups. In the setting of presence/absence of trauma above the clavicles, respondents were consistent with the guidelines in 57.1% of cases. Decision-making consistent with the guidelines was significantly better in the absence of trauma above the clavicles.

Conclusion: Respondents poorly differentiated the “older” patients from one another, suggesting that respondents either inappropriately apply the guidelines or are unaware of the recommendations in this setting. No particular cause for inconsistency could be determined, and respondents similarly under-scanned and over-scanned in incorrect vignettes. Improved dissemination of the ACEP clinical policy and recommendations is a potential solution to this problem. [West J Emerg Med. 2014;15(4):459-464.]

Injury Outcomes

Comparison of Three Prehospital Cervical Spine Protocols to Missed Injuries

Introduction: We wanted to compare 3 existing emergency medical services (EMS) immobilization protocols: the Prehospital Trauma Life Support (PHTLS, mechanism-based); the Domeier protocol (parallels the National Emergency X-Radiography Utilization Study [NEXUS] criteria); and the Hankins’ criteria (immobilization for patients <12 or >65 years, those with altered consciousness, focal neurologic deficit, distracting injury, or midline or paraspinal tenderness).To determine the proportion of patients who would require cervical immobilization per protocol and the number of missed cervical spine injuries, had each protocol been followed with 100% compliance.

Methods: This was a cross-sectional study of patients ≥18 years transported by EMS post-traumatic mechanism to an inner city emergency department. Demographic and clinical/historical data obtained by physicians were recorded prior to radiologic imaging. Medical record review ascertained cervical spine injuries. Both physicians and EMS were blinded to the objective of the study.

Results: Of 498 participants, 58% were male and mean age was 48 years. The following participants would have required cervical spine immobilization based on the respective protocol: PHTLS, 95.4% (95% CI: 93.1-96.9%); Domeier, 68.7% (95% CI: 64.5-72.6%); Hankins, 81.5% (95% CI: 77.9-84.7%). There were 18 cervical spine injuries: 12 vertebral fractures, 2 subluxations/dislocations and 4 spinal cord injuries. Compliance with each of the 3 protocols would have led to appropriate cervical spine immobilization of all injured patients. In practice, 2 injuries were missed when the PHTLS criteria were mis-applied.

Conclusion: Although physician-determined presence of cervical spine immobilization criteria cannot be generalized to the findings obtained by EMS personnel, our findings suggest that the mechanism-based PHTLS criteria may result in unnecessary cervical spine immobilization without apparent benefit to injured patients. PHTLS criteria may also be more difficult to implement due to the subjective interpretation of the severity of the mechanism, leading to non-compliance and missed injury. [West J Emerg Med. 2014;15(4):471-479.]

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Injury Prevention and Population Health

Successful Conviction of Intoxicated Drivers at a Level I Trauma Center

Introduction: Conviction rates for drivers driving under the influence (DUI) and in motor vehicle collisions (MVC) presenting to trauma centers are based primarily on data from the 1990s. Our goal was to identify DUI conviction rates of intoxicated drivers in MVCs presenting to a trauma center and to identify factors associated with the failure to obtain a DUI conviction.

Methods: Retrospective study of adults (>18 years) presenting to a trauma center emergency department (ED) in 2007. Eligible subjects were drivers involved in a MVC with an ED blood alcohol level (BAL) ≥ 80mg/dL. Subjects were matched to their Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) records to identify DUI convictions from the collision, the legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC), and arresting officer’s impression of the driver’s sobriety.  We entered potential variables predictive of failure to obtain a DUI conviction into a regression model.

Results: The 241 included subjects had a mean age of 34.1 ± 12.8 years, and 185 (77%) were male.  Successful DUI convictions occurred in 142/241 (58.9%, 95% CI 52.4, 65.2%) subjects.  In a regression model, Injury Severity Score > 15 (odds ratio = 2.70 (95% CI 1.06, 6.85)) and a lower ED BAL from 80 to 200mg/dL (odds ratio = 5.03 (95% CI 1.69, 14.9) were independently associated with a failure to obtain a DUI conviction.

Conclusion: Slightly more than half of drivers who present to an ED after a MVC receive a DUI conviction.  The most severely injured subjects and those with lower BALs are least likely to be convicted of a DUI. [West J Emerg Med. 2014;15(4):480-485.]

 

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Patient Safety

Analysis of Medication Errors in Simulated Pediatric Resuscitation by Residents

Introduction: The objective of our study was to estimate the incidence of prescribing medication errors specifically made by a trainee and identify factors associated with these errors during the simulated resuscitation of a critically ill child.

Methods: The results of the simulated resuscitation are described. We analyzed data from the simulated resuscitation for the occurrence of a prescribing medication error. We compared univariate analysis of each variable to medication error rate and performed a separate multiple logistic regression analysis on the significant univariate variables to assess the association between the selected variables.

Results: We reviewed 49 simulated resuscitations . The final medication error rate for the simulation was 26.5% (95% CI 13.7% - 39.3%). On univariate analysis, statistically significant findings for decreased prescribing medication error rates included senior residents in charge, presence of a pharmacist, sleeping greater than 8 hours prior to the simulation, and a visual analog scale score showing more confidence in caring for critically ill children. Multiple logistic regression analysis using the above significant variables showed only the presence of a pharmacist to remain significantly associated with decreased medication error, odds raio of 0.09 (95% CI 0.01 - 0.64).

Conclusion: Our results indicate that the presence of a clinical pharmacist during the resuscitation of a critically ill child reduces the medication errors made by resident physician trainees.[West J Emerg Med. 2014;15(4):486-490.]

Practice Variability

Clinical Management of Skin and Soft Tissue Infections in the U.S. Emergency Departments

Introduction: Community-associated methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (CA-MRSA) has emerged as the most common cause of skin and soft-tissue infections (SSTI) in the United States. A nearly three-fold increase in SSTI visit rates had been documented in the nation’s emergency departments (ED). The objective of this study was to determine characteristics associated with ED performance of incision and drainage (I+D) and use of adjuvant antibiotics in the management of skin and soft tissue infections (SSTI). Methods: Cross-sectional study of the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, a nationally representative database of ED visits from 2007-09. Demographics, rates of I+D, and adjuvant antibiotic therapy were described. We used multivariable regression to identify factors independently associated with use of I+D and adjuvant antibiotics.Results: An estimated 6.8 million (95% CI: 5.9-7.8) ED visits for SSTI were derived from 1,806 sampled visits; 17% were for children <18 years of age and most visits were in the South (49%). I+D was performed in 27% (95% CI 24-31) of visits, and was less common in subjects <18 years compared to adults 19-49 years (p<0.001), and more common in the South. Antibiotics were prescribed for 85% of SSTI; there was no relationship to performance of I+D (p=0.72). MRSA-active agents were more frequently prescribed after I+D compared to non-drained lesions (70% versus 56%, p<0.001). After multivariable adjustment, I+D was associated with presentation in the South (OR 2.36; 95% CI 1.52-3.65 compared with Northeast), followed by West (OR 2.13; 1.31-3.45), and Midwest (OR 1.96; 1.96-3.22).Conclusion:Clinical management of most SSTIs in the U.S. involves adjuvant antibiotics, regardless of I+D. Although not necessarily indicated, CA-MRSA effective therapy is being used for drained SSTI. [West J Emerg Med. 2014;15(4):491–498.]

Prehospital Care

Expansion of U.S. Emergency Medical Service Routing for Stroke Care: 2000-2010

Introduction: Organized stroke systems of care include preferential emergency medical services (EMS) routing to deliver suspected stroke patients to designated hospitals. To characterize the growth and implementation of EMS routing of stroke nationwide, we describe the proportion of stroke hospitalizations in the United States (U.S.) occurring within regions having adopted these protocols.

Methods: We collected data on ischemic stroke using International Classification of Diseases-9 (ICD-9) coding from the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project Nationwide Inpatient Sample (NIS) database from the years 2000-2010. The NIS contains all discharge data from 1,051 hospitals located in 45 states, approximating a 20% stratified sample. We obtained data on EMS systems of care from a review of archives, reports, and interviews with state emergency medical services (EMS)  officials. A county or state was considered to be in transition if the protocol was adopted in the calendar year, with establishment in the year following transition.

Results: Nationwide, stroke hospitalizations remained constant over the course of the study period: 583,000 in 2000 and 573,000 in 2010. From 2000-2003 there were no states or counties participating in the NIS with EMS systems of care. The proportion of U.S. stroke hospitalizations occurring in jurisdictions with established EMS regional systems of acute stroke care increased steadily from 2004 to 2010 (1%, 13%, 28%, 30%, 30%, 34%, 49%). In 2010, 278,538 stroke hospitalizations, 49% of all U.S. stroke hospitalizations, occurred in areas with established EMS routing, with an additional 18,979 (3%) patients in regions undergoing a transition to EMS routing.

Conclusion: In 2010, a majority of stroke patients in the U.S. were hospitalized in states with established or transitioning to organized stroke systems of care. This milestone coverage of half the U.S. population is a major advance in systematic stroke care and emphasizes the need for novel approaches to further extend access to stroke center care to all patients. [West J Emerg Med. 2014;15(4):499–503.]

 

Emergency Physician Awareness of Prehospital Procedures and Medications

Introduction: Maintaining patient safety during transition from prehospital to emergency department (ED) care depends on effective handoff communication between providers. We sought to determine emergency physicians’ (EP) knowledge of the care provided by paramedics in terms of both procedures and medications, and whether the use of a verbal report improved physician accuracy.

Methods: We conducted a 2-phase observational survey of a convenience sample of EPs in an urban, academic ED.  In this large ED paramedics have no direct contact with physicians for non-critical patients, giving their report instead to the triage nurse. In Phase 1, paramedics gave verbal report to the triage nurse only. In Phase 2, a research assistant (RA) stationed in triage listened to this report and then repeated it back verbatim to the EPs caring for the patient. The RA then queried the EPs 90 minutes later regarding their patients’ prehospital procedures and medications. We compared the accuracy of these 2 reporting methods.

Results: There were 163 surveys completed in Phase 1 and 116 in Phase 2. The oral report had no effect on EP awareness that the patient had been brought in by ambulance (86% in Phase 1 and 85% in Phase 2.) The oral report did improve EP awareness of prehospital procedures, from 16% in Phase 1 to 45% in Phase 2, OR=4.28 (2.5-7.5). EPs were able to correctly identify all oral medications in 18% of Phase 1 cases and 47% of Phase 2 cases, and all IV medications in 42% of Phase 1 cases and 50% of Phase 2 cases. The verbal report led to a mild improvement in physician awareness of oral medications given, OR=4.0 (1.09-14.5), and no improvement in physician awareness of IV medications given, OR=1.33 (0.15-11.35). Using a composite score of procedures plus oral plus IV medications, physicians had all three categories correct in 15% of Phase 1 and 39% of Phase 2 cases (p<0.0001).

Conclusion: EPs in our ED were unaware of many prehospital procedures and medications regardless of the method used to provide this information. The addition of a verbal hand-off report resulted in a modest improvement in overall accuracy.  [West J Emerg Med. 2014;15(4):504-510.]

 

Societal Impact on Emergency Care

Multidimensional Attitudes of Emergency Medicine Residents Toward Older Adults

Introduction: The demands of our rapidly expanding older population strain many emergency departments (EDs), and older patients experience disproportionately high adverse health outcomes. Trainee attitude is key in improving care for older adults. There is negligible knowledge of baseline emergency medicine (EM) resident attitudes regarding elder patients. Awareness of baseline attitudes can serve to better structure training for improved care of older adults. The objective of the study is to identify baseline EM resident attitudes toward older adults using a validated attitude scale and multidimensional analysis.

Methods: Six EM residencies participated in a voluntary anonymous survey delivered in summer and fall 2009. We used factor analysis using the principal components method and Varimax rotation, to analyze attitude interdependence, translating the 21 survey questions into 6 independent dimensions. We adapted this survey from a validated instrument by the addition of 7 EM-specific questions to measures attitudes relevant to emergency care of elders and the training of EM residents in the geriatric competencies. Scoring was performed on a 5-point Likert scale. We compared factor scores using student t and ANOVA.Results: 173 EM residents participated showing an overall positive attitude toward older adults, with a factor score of 3.79 (3.0 being a neutral score). Attitudes trended to more negative in successive post-graduate year (PGY) levels.

Conclusion: EM residents demonstrate an overall positive attitude towards the care of older adults. We noted a longitudinal hardening of attitude in social values, which are more negative in successive PGY-year levels. [West J Emerg Med. 2014;15(4):511-517.]

Impact of the Balance Billing Ban on California Emergency Providers

Introduction: The objective of this study was to examine reimbursement trends for emergency provider professional services following the balance billing ban in California.Methods: We conducted a blinded web-based survey to collect claims data from emergency providers and billing companies. Members of the California Chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians (California ACEP) reimbursement committee were invited to participate in the survey. We used a convenience sample of claims to determine payment rates before and after the balance billing ban.Results: We examined a total of 55,243 claims to determine the percentage of charges paid before and after the balance billing ban took effect on October 15, 2008. The overall reduction in percentage of charges paid was 13% in the first year and 19% in the second year following the balance billing ban. The average percentage of charges paid by health plans decreased from 91% to 86% from 2008 to 2010. Payments by risk-bearing organizations decreased from 72% to 46% of charges during the same time frame. Conclusion: Payment rates by subcontracted risk-bearing organizations for non-contracted emergency department professional services declined significantly following the balanced billing ban whereas payment rates by health plans remained relatively stable. [West J Emerg Med. 2014;15(4):518-522.]

Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs: Aspects of the One-Percenter Culture for Emergency Department Personnel to Consider

Outlaw motorcycle gangs (OMGs) are an iconic element of the criminal landscape in the United States, the country of their origin. Members of OMGs may present to the emergency department (ED) as a result of motor vehicle accidents or interpersonal violence. When one member of an OMG is injured, other members and associates are likely to arrive in the ED to support the injured member. The extant literature for ED personnel lacks an overview of the culture of OMGs, a culture that promotes the display of unique symbols and that holds certain paraphernalia as integral to an outlaw biker’s identity and pride. The objective of this manuscript is to discuss various aspects of the culture of OMGs so that ED personnel may better understand the mentality of the outlaw biker. Knowledge of their symbols, values, and hierarchy can be crucial to maintaining order in the ED when an injured outlaw biker presents to the ED. We used standard search engines to obtain reports from law enforcement agencies and studies in academic journals on OMGs. We present the observations of 1 author who has conducted ethnographic research on outlaw bikers since the 1980s. [West J Emerg Med. 2014;15(4):523-528.]

Availability of Insurance Linkage Programs in U.S. Emergency Departments

Introduction: As millions of uninsured citizens who use emergency department (ED) services are now eligible for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, the ED is ideally situated to facilitate linkage to insurance. Forty percent of U.S. EDs report having an insurance linkage program. This is the first national study to examine the characteristics of EDs that offer or do not offer these programs.

Methods: This was a secondary analysis of data from the National Survey for Preventive Health Services in U.S. EDs conducted in 2008-09. We compared EDs with and without insurance programs across demographic and operational factors using univariate analysis. We then tested our hypotheses using multivariable logistic regression. We also further examined program capacity and priority among the sub-group of EDs with no insurance linkage program.

Results: After adjustment, ED-insurance linkage programs were more likely to be located in the West (RR= 2.06, 95% CI = 1.33 – 2.72). The proportion of uninsured patients in an ED, teaching hospital status, and public ownership status were not associated with insurance linkage availability. EDs with linkage programs also offer more preventive services (RR = 1.87, 95% CI = 1.37–2.35) and have greater social worker availability (RR = 1.71, 95% CI = 1.12–2.33) than those who do not.  Four of five EDs with a patient mix of ≥25% uninsured and no insurance linkage program reported that they could not offer a program with existing staff and funding.

Conclusion: Availability of insurance linkage programs in the ED is not associated with the proportion of uninsured patients served by an ED. Policy or hospital-based interventions to increase insurance linkage should first target the 27% of EDs with high rates of uninsured patients that lack adequate program capacity. Further research on barriers to implementation and cost effectiveness may help to facilitate increased adoption of insurance linkage programs. [West J Emerg Med. 2014;15(4):529–535.]

 

Technology in Emergency Care

Novel Ultrasound Guidance System for Real-time Central Venous Cannulation: Safety and Efficacy

Introduction: Real-time ultrasound guidance is considered to be the standard of care for central venous access for non-emergent central lines. However, adoption has been slow, in part because of the technical challenges and time required to become proficient. The AxoTrack® system (Soma Access Systems, Greenville, SC) is a novel ultrasound guidance system recently cleared for human use by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Methods: After FDA clearance, the AxoTrack® system was released to three hospitals in the United States. Physicians and nurse practitioners who work in the intensive care unit or emergency department and who place central venous catheters were trained to use the AxoTrack® system. De-identified data about central lines placed in living patients with the AxoTrack® system was prospectively gathered at each of the three hospitals for quality assurance purposes. After institutional review board approval, we consolidated the data for the first five months of use for retrospective review.

Results: The AxoTrack® system was used by 22 different health care providers in 50 consecutive patients undergoing central venous cannulation (CVC) from September 2012 to February 2013. All patients had successful CVC with the guidance of the AxoTrack® system. All but one patient (98%) had successful cannulation on the first site attempted. There were no reported complications, including pneumothorax, hemothorax, arterial puncture or arterial cannulation.

Conclusion: The AxoTrack® system was a safe and effective means of CVC that was used by a variety of health care practitioners. [West J Emerg Med. 2014;15(4):536-540.]

Typed versus Voice Recognition for Data Entry in an Electronic Health Record: Emergency Department Physician Time Utilization and Interruptions

Introduction: Use of electronic health record (EHR) systems can place a considerable data entry burden upon the emergency department (ED) physician. Voice recognition data entry has been proposed as one mechanism to mitigate some of this burden; however, no reports are available specifically comparing emergency physician (EP) time use or number of interruptions between typed and voice recognition data entry-based EHRs. We designed this study to compare physician time use and interruptions between an EHR system using typed data entry versus an EHR with voice recognition.

Methods: We collected prospective observational data at 2 academic teaching hospital EDs, one using an EHR with typed data entry and the other with voice recognition capabilities. Independent raters observed EP activities during regular shifts. Tasks each physician performed were noted and logged in 30 second intervals. We compared time allocated to charting, direct patient care, and change in tasks leading to interruptions between sites.

Results: We logged 4,140 minutes of observation for this study. We detected no statistically significant differences in the time spent by EPs charting (29.4% typed; 27.5% voice) or the time allocated to direct patient care (30.7%; 30.8%). Significantly more interruptions per hour were seen with typed data entry versus voice recognition data entry (5.33 vs. 3.47; p=0.0165).

Conclusion: The use of a voice recognition data entry system versus typed data entry did not appear to alter the amount of time physicians spend charting or performing direct patient care in an ED setting. However, we did observe a lower number of workflow interruptions with the voice recognition data entry EHR. Additional research is needed to further evaluate the data entry burden in the ED and examine alternative mechanisms for chart entry as EHR systems continue to evolve. [West J Emerg Med. 2014;15(4):541-547.]

 

Evaluation of Karl Storz CMAC TipTM Device Versus Traditional Airway Suction in a Cadaver Model

Introduction: We compared the efficacy of Karl Storz CMAC TipTM with inline suction to CMAC with traditional suction device in cadaveric models simulating difficult airways, using media mimicking pulmonary edema and vomit.

Methods: This was a prospective, cohort study in which we invited emergency medicine faculty and residents to participate. Each participant intubated 2 cadavers (one with simulated pulmonary edema and one with simulated vomit), using CMAC with inline suction and CMAC with traditional suction. Thirty emergency medicine providers performed 4 total intubations each in a crossover trial comparing the CMAC with inline suction and CMAC with traditional suction. Two intubations were performed with simulated vomit and two with simulated pulmonary edema. The primary outcome was time to successful intubation; and the secondary outcome was proportion of successful intubation.

Results: The median time to successful intubation using the CMAC with inline suction versus traditional suction in the pulmonary edema group was 29s and 30s respectively (p=0.54). In the vomit simulation, the median time to successful intubation was 40s using the CMAC with inline suction and 41s using the CMAC with traditional suction (p=0.70). There were no significant differences in time to successful intubation between the 2 devices. Similarly, the proportions of successful intubation were also not statistically significant between the 2 devices. The proportions of successful intubations using the inline suction were 96.7% and 73.3%, for the pulmonary edema and vomit groups, respectively. Additionally using the handheld suction device, the proportions for the pulmonary edema and vomit group were 100% and 66.7%, respectively.

Conclusion: CMAC with inline suction was no different than CMAC with traditional suction and was associated with no statistically significant differences in median time to intubation or proportion of successful intubations. [West J Emerg Med. 2014;15(4):548-553.]

Treatment Protocol Assessment

Epidemiology Of Nursemaid's Elbow

Introduction: To provide an epidemiological description of radial head subluxation, also known asnursemaid’s elbow, from a database of emergency department visits.Methods: We conducted a retrospective medical record review of patients 6 years of age and younger,who presented to the ED between January 1, 2005, and December 31, 2012, and were diagnosed withnursemaid’s elbow. Inclusion criteria consisted of chart information, including date, unique accountnumber, medical record number, weight, age, sex, and arm affected. Exclusion criteria included anycharts with missing or incomplete data.Results: There were 1,228 charts that met inclusion criteria. The majority of patients were female(60%). The mean age was 28.6 months (612.6). The left arm was affected 60% of the time.Most of the included patients were over the 75th percentile for weight and more than one quarter wereover the 95th percentile in each gender.Conclusion: The average age of children presenting with nursemaid’s elbow was 28.6 months.Females were affected more than males, and the left arm was predominately affected. Most patientswere above the 75th percentile for weight and more than one quarter were over the 95th percentile forweight. [West J Emerg Med. 2014;15(4):554–557.]

Wit in Emergency Medicine

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