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Volume 15, Issue 7, 2014
Disaster Medicine/ Emergency Medical Services
Emergency Medical Services Public Health Implications and Interim Guidance for the Ebola Virus in the United States
The 25th known outbreak of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) is now a global public health emergency and the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the epidemic to be a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). Since the first cases of the West African epidemic were reported in March 2014, there has been an increase in infection rates of over 13,000% over a 6-month period. The Ebola virus has now arrived in the United States and public health professionals, doctors, hospitals, Emergency Medial Services Administrators, Medical Directors, and policy makers have been working with haste to develop strategies to prevent the disease from reaching epidemic proportions. Prehospital care providers (emergency medical technicians and paramedics) and medical first responders (including but not limited to firefighters and law enforcement) are the healthcare systems front lines when it comes to first medical contact with patients outside of the hospital setting. Risk of contracting Ebola can be particularly high in this population of first responders if the appropriate precautions are not implemented. This article provides a brief clinical overview of the Ebola Virus Disease and provides a comprehensive summary of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Interim Guidance for Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Systems and 9-1-1 Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPS) for Management of Patients with Known of Suspected Ebola Virus Disease in the United States. [West J Emerg Med. 2014;15(7):-0.]
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Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) has become a public health emergency of international concern. The World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have developed guidance to educate and inform healthcare workers and travelers worldwide. Symptoms of EVD include abrupt onset of fever, myalgias, and headache in the early phase, followed by vomiting, diarrhea and possible progression to hemorrhagic rash, life-threatening bleeding, and multi-organ failure in the later phase. The disease is not transmitted via airborne spread like influenza, but rather from person-to-person, or animal to person, via direct contact with bodily fluids or blood. It is crucial that emergency physicians be educated on disease presentation and how to generate a timely and accurate differential diagnosis that includes exotic diseases in the appropriate patient population. A patient should be evaluated for EVD when both suggestive symptoms, including unexplained hemorrhage, AND risk factors within 3 weeks prior, such as travel to an endemic area, direct handling of animals from outbreak areas, or ingestion of fruit or other uncooked foods contaminated with bat feces containing the virus are present. There are experimental therapies for treatment of EVD virus; however the mainstay of therapy is supportive care. Emergency department personnel on the frontlines must be prepared to rapidly identify and isolate febrile travelers if indicated. All healthcare workers involved in care of EVD patients should wear personal protective equipment. Despite the intense media focus on EVD rather than other threats, emergency physicians must master and follow essential public health principles for management of all infectious diseases. This includes not only identification and treatment of individuals, but also protection of healthcare workers and prevention of spread, keeping in mind the possibility of other more common disease processes. [West J Emerg Med. 2014;15(7):–0.]
Introduction: Violent and agitated patients pose a serious challenge for emergency medical services (EMS) personnel. Rapid control of these patients is paramount to successful prehospital evaluation and also for the safety of both the patient and crew. Sedation is often required for these patients, but the ideal choice of medication is not clear. The objective is to demonstrate that ketamine, given as a single intramuscular injection for violent and agitated patients, including those with suspected excited delirium syndrome (ExDS), is both safe and effective during the prehospital phase of care, and allows for the rapid sedation and control of this difficult patient population.
Methods: We reviewed paramedic run sheets from five different catchment areas in suburban Florida communities. We identified 52 patients as having been given intramuscular ketamine 4mg/kg IM, following a specific protocol devised by the EMS medical director of these jurisdictions, to treat agitated and violent patients, including a subset of which would be expected to suffer from ExDS. Twenty-six of 52 patients were also given parenteral midazolam after medical control was obtained to prevent emergence reactions associated with ketamine.
Results: Review of records demonstrated that almost all patients (50/52) were rapidly sedated and in all but three patients no negative side effects were noted during the prehospital care. All patients were subsequently transported to the hospital before ketamine effects wore off.
Conclusion: Ketamine may be safely and effectively used by trained paramedics following a specific protocol. The drug provides excellent efficacy and few clinically significant side effects in the prehospital phase of care, making it an attractive choice in those situations requiring rapid and safe sedation especially without intravenous access. [West J Emerg Med. 2014;15(7):–0.]
National Trends in the Utilization of Emergency Medical Services for Acute Myocardial Infarction and Stroke
Introduction: The emergency medical services (EMS) system plays a crucial role in the chain of survival for acute myocardial infarction (AMI) and stroke. While regional studies have shown underutilization of the 911 system for these time-sensitive conditions, national trends have not been studied. Our objective was to describe the national prevalence of EMS use for AMI and stroke, examine trends over a six-year period, and identify patient factors that may contribute to utilization.
Methods: Using the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey-ED (NHAMCS) dataset from 2003-2009, we looked at patients with a discharge diagnosis of AMI or stroke who arrived to the emergency department (ED) by ambulance. We used a survey-weighted χ2 test for trend and logistic regression analysis.
Results: In the study, there were 442 actual AMI patients and 220 (49.8%) presented via EMS. There were 1,324 actual stroke patients and 666 (50.3%) presented via EMS. There was no significant change in EMS usage for AMI or stroke over the six-year period. Factors independently associated with EMS use for AMI and stroke included age (OR 1.21; 95% CI 1.12-1.31), Non-Hispanic black race (OR 1.72; 95% CI 1.16-2.29), and nursing home residence (OR 11.50; 95% CI 6.19-21.36).
Conclusion: In a nationally representative sample of ED visits from 20003-2009, there were no trends of increasing EMS use for AMI and stroke. Efforts to improve access to care could focus on patient groups that underutilize the EMS system for such conditions. [West J Emerg Med. 2014;15(7):–0.]
Does Pre-hospital Endotracheal Intubation Improve Survival in Adults with Non-traumatic Out-of-hospital Cardiac Arrest? A Systematic Review
Introduction: Endotracheal intubation (ETI) is currently considered superior to supraglottic airway devices (SGA) for survival and other outcomes among adults with non-traumatic out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA). We aimed to determine if the research supports this conclusion by conducting a systematic review.
Methods: We searched the MEDLINE, Scopus and CINAHL databases for studies published between January 1, 1980, and 30 April 30, 2013, which compared pre-hospital use of ETI with SGA for outcomes of return of spontaneous circulation (ROSC); survival to hospital admission; survival to hospital discharge; and favorable neurological or functional status. We selected studies using pre-specified criteria. Included studies were independently screened for quality using the Newcastle-Ottawa scale. We did not pool results because of study variability. Study outcomes were extracted and results presented as summed odds ratios with 95% CI.
Results: We identified five eligible studies: one quasi-randomized controlled trial and four cohort studies, involving 303,348 patients in total. Only three of the five studies reported a higher proportion of ROSC with ETI versus SGA with no difference reported in the remaining two. None found significant differences between ETI and SGA for survival to hospital admission or discharge. One study reported better functional status at discharge for ETI versus SGA. Two studies reported no significant difference for favorable neurological status between ETI and SGA.
Conclusion: Current evidence does not conclusively support the superiority of ETI over SGA for multiple outcomes among adults with OHCA. [West J Emerg Med. 2014;15(7):-0.]
Introduction: The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends regionalized care following out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) at cardiac resuscitation centers (CRCs). Key level 1 CRC criteria include 24/7 percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) capability, therapeutic hypothermia capability, and annual volume of ≥40 patients resuscitated from OHCA. Our objective was to characterize the availability and utilization of resources relevant to post-cardiac arrest care, including level 1 CRCs in California.
Methods: We combined data from the AHA, the California Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development (OSHPD), and surveys to identify CRCs. We surveyed emergency department directors and nurse managers at all 24/7 PCI centers identified by the AHA to determine their post-OHCA care capabilities. The survey included questions regarding therapeutic hypothermia use and specialist availability and was pilot-tested prior to distribution. Cases of OHCA were identified in the 2011 OSHPD Patient Discharge Database using a “present on admission” diagnosis of cardiac arrest (ICD-9-CM code 427.5). We defined key level 1 CRC criteria as 24/7 PCI capability, therapeutic hypothermia, and annual volume ≥40 patients admitted with a “present on admission” diagnosis of cardiac arrest. Our primary outcome was the proportion of hospitals meeting these criteria. Descriptive statistics and 95% CI are presented.
Results: Of the 333 acute care hospitals in California, 31 (9.3%, 95% CI 6.4-13%) met level 1 CRC criteria. These hospitals treated 25% (1937/7780; 95% CI 24-26%) of all admitted OHCA patients in California in 2011. Of the 125 hospitals identified as 24/7 PCI centers by the AHA, 54 (43%, 95% CI 34-52%) admitted ≥40 patients following OHCA in 2011. Seventy (56%, 95% CI 47-65%) responded to the survey; 69/70 (99%, 95% CI 92-100%) reported having a therapeutic hypothermia protocol in effect by 2011. Five percent of admitted OHCA patients (402/7780; 95% CI 4.7-5.7%) received therapeutic hypothermia and 18% (1372/7780; 95% CI 17-19%) underwent cardiac catheterization.
Conclusion: Approximately 10% of hospitals met key criteria for AHA level 1 CRCs. These hospitals treated one-quarter of patients resuscitated from OHCA in 2011. The feasibility of regionalized care for OHCA requires detailed evaluation prior to widespread implementation. [West J Emerg Med. 2014;15(7):–0.]
Emergency Department Operations
Introduction: This study examines the emergency department (ED) waiting room (WR) population’s knowledge about the ED process and hospital function and explores the types of educational materials that might appeal to patients and their companions in an ED waiting room. Our goal was to identify potential high-impact opportunities for patient education.
Methods: A 32-question survey about demographics, usage of primary care physicians (PCP), understanding of the ED and triage process, desire to know about delays, health education and understanding of teaching hospitals was offered to all qualified individuals.
Results: Five hundred and forty-four surveys were returned. Fifty-five percent reported having a PCP, of which 53% (29% of all WR patients) called a PCP prior to coming to the ED. It was found that 51.2% can define triage; 51% as an acuity assessment and 17% as a vital signs check. Sixty-nine percent knew why patients were seen according to triage priority. Seventy-two percent wanted to know about delays, yet only 25% wanted to know others’ wait times. People wanted updates every 41 minutes and only three percent wanted a physician to do this. Forty-one percent wanted information on how the ED functions, 60% via handouts and 43% via video. Information on updates and common medical emergencies is significantly more important than material on common illnesses, finding a PCP, or ED function (p<0.05). Median estimated time for medical workup ranged from 35 minutes for radiographs, to one hour for lab results, computed tomography, specialist consult, and admission. Sixty-nine percent knew the definition of a teaching hospital and of those, 87% knew they were at a teaching hospital. Subgroup analysis between racial groups showed significantly reduced knowledge of the definitions of triage and teaching hospitals and significantly increased desire for information on ED function in minority groups (p<0.05).
Conclusion: The major findings in this study were that many visitors would like handouts about ED function and medical emergencies over other topics. Additionally, the knowledge of functions such as triage and teaching hospitals were 70% and 69%, respectively. This was reduced in non-Caucasian ethnicities, while there was an increased desire for information on ED function relative to Caucasians. This research suggests increasing updates and educational materials in the waiting room could impact the waiting room and overall hospital experience. [West J Emerg Med. 2014;15(7):-0.]
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Introduction: While emergency department (ED) crowding has myriad causes and negative downstream effects, applying systems engineering science and targeting throughput remains a potential solution to increase functional capacity. However, the most effective techniques for broad application in the ED remain unclear. We examined the hypothesis that Lean-based reorganization of Fast Track process flow would improve length of stay (LOS), percent of patients discharged within one hour, and room use, without added expense.
Methods: This study was a prospective, controlled, before-and-after analysis of Fast Track process improvements in a Level 1 tertiary care academic medical center with >95,000 annual patient visits. We included all adult patients seen during the study periods of 6/2010-10/2010 and 6/2011-10/2011, and data were collected from an electronic tracking system. We used concurrent patients seen in another care area used as a control group. The intervention consisted of a simple reorganization of patient flow through existing rooms, based in systems engineering science and modeling, including queuing theory, demand-capacity matching, and Lean methodologies. No modifications to staffing or physical space were made. Primary outcomes included LOS of discharged patients, percent of patients discharged within one hour, and time in exam room. We compared LOS and exam room time using Wilcoxon rank sum tests, and chi-square tests for percent of patients discharged within one hour.
Results: Following the intervention, median LOS among discharged patients was reduced by 15 minutes (158 to 143 min, 95%CI 12 to 19 min, p<0.0001). The number of patients discharged in <1 hr increased by 2.8% (from 6.9% to 9.7%, 95%CI 2.1% to 3.5%, p<0.0001), and median exam room time decreased by 34 minutes (90 to 56 min, 95%CI 31 to 38 min, p<0.0001). In comparison, the control group had no change in LOS (265 to 267 min) or proportion of patients discharged in <1 hr (2.9% to 2.9%), and an increase in exam room time (28 to 36 min, p<0.0001).
Conclusion: In this single center trial, a focused Lean-based reorganization of patient flow improved Fast Track ED performance measures and capacity, without added expense. Broad multi-centered application of systems engineering science might further improve ED throughput and capacity. [West J Emerg Med. 2014;15(7):–0.]
Impact of a Health Information Exchange on Resource Use and Medicare-Allowable Reimbursements at 11 Emergency Departments in a Midsized City
Introduction: Use clinician perceptions to estimate the impact of a health information exchange (HIE) on emergency department (ED) care at four major hospital systems (HS) within a region. Use survey data provided by ED clinicians to estimate reduction in Medicare-allowable reimbursements (MARs) resulting from use of an HIE.
Methods: We conducted the study during a one-year period beginning in February 2012. Study sites included eleven EDs operated by four major HS in the region of a mid-sized Southeastern city, including one academic ED, five community hospital EDs, four free-standing EDs and 1 ED/Chest Pain Center (CPC) all of which participated in an HIE. The study design was observational, prospective using a voluntary, anonymous, online survey. Eligible participants included attending emergency physicians, residents, and mid-level providers (PA & NP). Survey items asked clinicians whether information obtained from the HIE changed resource use while caring for patients at the study sites and used branching logic to ascertain specific types of services avoided including laboratory/microbiology, radiology, consultations, and hospital admissions. Additional items asked how use of the HIE affected quality of care and length of stay. The survey was automated using a survey construction tool (REDCap Survey Software © 2010 Vanderbilt University). We calculated avoided MARs by multiplying the numbers and types of services reported to have been avoided. Average cost of an admission from the ED was based on direct cost trends for ED admissions within the region.
Results: During the 12-month study period we had 325,740 patient encounters and 7,525 logons to the HIE (utilization rate of 2.3%) by 231 ED clinicians practicing at the study sites. We collected 621 surveys representing 8.25% of logons of which 532 (85.7% of surveys) reported on patients who had information available in the HIE. Within this group the following services and MARs were reported to have been avoided [type of service: number of services; MARs]: Laboratory/Microbiology:187; $2,073, Radiology: 298; $475,840, Consultations: 61; $6,461, Hospital Admissions: 56; $551,282. Grand total of MARs avoided: $1,035,654; average $1,947 per patient who had information available in the HIE (Range: $1,491 - $2,395 between HS). Changes in management other than avoidance of a service were reported by 32.2% of participants. Participants stated that quality of care was improved for 89% of patients with information in the HIE. Eighty-two percent of participants reported that valuable time was saved with a mean time saved of 105 minutes.
Conclusion: Observational data provided by ED clinicians practicing at eleven EDs in a mid-sized Southeastern city showed an average reduction in MARs of $1,947 per patient who had information available in an HIE. The majority of reduced MARs were due to avoided radiology studies and hospital admissions. Over 80% of participants reported that quality of care was improved and valuable time was saved. [West J Emerg Med. 2014;15(7):–0.]
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Noninvasive Hemodynamic Monitoring in Emergency Patients with Suspected Heart Failure, Sepsis and Stroke: The Premium Registry
Introduction: Noninvasive hemodynamic (HD) assessments in the emergency department (ED) might assist in the diagnosis, therapeutic plan development and risk stratification of acutely ill patients. This multinational observational study was designed to initiate noninvasive HD measurements prior to any ED patient therapeutic interventions and broadly evaluate them for potential diagnostic, therapeutic and predictive value.
Methods: We enrolled patients with suspected acute heart failure (AHF), sepsis or stroke. Continuous noninvasive HD monitoring was begun using the Nexfin finger cuff device (Edwards LifeSciences, BMEYE, Amsterdam, Netherlands). Beat-to-beat HD measurements were averaged for the initial 15 minutes, prior to therapeutic intervention. We performed suspected disease group comparisons and evaluated HD predictors of 30-day mortality.
Results: Of 510 patients enrolled: 185 (36%) AHF, 194 (38%) sepsis and 131 (26%) stroke. HD variables were significantly different (p<0.05) amongst the groups. Cardiac output and index and stroke volume index (SVI) were highest in sepsis (6.5, 3.5, 36), followed by stroke (5.5, 2.7, 35.8), and lowest in AHF (5.4, 2.7, 33.6). The in-group HD standard deviations and ranges measurements were large, indicating heterogeneous underlying HD profiles. Presenting SVI predicted 30-day mortality for all groups.
Conclusion: Presenting ED noninvasive HD data has not been previously reported in any large patient population. Our data suggest a potential role for early noninvasive HD assessments aiding in diagnosing of patients, individualizing therapy based on each person’s unique HD values and predicting 30-day mortality. Further studies and analyses are needed to determine how HD assessments should be best used in the ED. [West J Emerg Med. 2014;15(7):-0.]
Shock Index and Prediction of Traumatic Hemorrhagic Shock 28-Day Mortality: Data from the DCLHb Resuscitation Clinical Trials
Introduction: To assess the ability of the shock index (SI) to predict 28-day mortality in traumatic hemorrhagic shock patients treated in the diaspirin cross-linked hemoglobin (DCLHb) resuscitation clinical trials.
Methods: We used data from two parallel DCLHb traumatic hemorrhagic shock efficacy trials, one in U.S. emergency departments, and one in the European Union prehospital setting to assess the relationship between SI values and 28-day mortality.
Results: In the 219 patients, the mean age was 37 years, 64% sustained a blunt injury, 48% received DCLHb, 36% died, and 88% had an SI>1.0 at study entry. The percentage of patients with an SI>1.0 dropped by 57% (88 to 38%) from the time of study entry to 120 minutes after study resuscitation (p<0.001). Patients with a SI>1.0, 1.4, and 1.8 at any time point were 2.3, 2.7, and 3.1 times, respectively, more likely to die by 28 days than were patients with SI values below these cutoffs (p<0.001). Similarly, after 120 minutes of resuscitation, patients with a SI>1.0 were 3.9x times more likely to die by 28 days (40 vs. 15%, p<0.001). Although the distribution of SI values differed based on treatment group, the receiver operator characeristics data showed no difference in SI predictive ability for 28-day mortality in patients treated with DCLHb.
Conclusion: In these traumatic hemorrhagic shock patients, the shock index correlates with 28-day mortality, with higher SI values indicating greater mortality risk. Although DCLHb treatment did alter the distribution of SI values, it did not influence the ability of the SI to predict 28-day mortality. [West J Emerg Med. 2014;15(7):–0.]
Technology in Emergency Care
The U.S. national out-of-hospital and in-hospital cardiac arrest survival rates, although improving recently, have remained suboptimal despite the collective efforts of individuals, communities, and professional societies. Only until very recently, and still with inconsistency, has focus been placed specifically on survival with pre-arrest neurologic function. The reality of current approaches to sudden cardiac arrest is that they are often lacking an integrative, multi-disciplinary approach, and without deserved funding and outcome analysis. In this manuscript, a multidisciplinary group of authors propose practice, process, technology, and policy initiatives to improve cardiac arrest survival with a focus on neurologic function. [West J Emerg Med. 2014;15(7):-0.]
Bedside Ultrasonography as an Adjunct to Routine Evaluation of Acute Appendicitis in the Emergency Department
Introduction: Appendicitis is a common condition presenting to the emergency department (ED). Increasingly emergency physicians (EP) are using bedside ultrasound (BUS) as an adjunct diagnostic tool. Our objective is to investigate the test characteristics of BUS for the diagnosis of appendicitis and identify components of routine ED workup and BUS associated with the presence of appendicitis.
Methods: Patients four years of age and older presenting to the ED with suspected appendicitis were eligible for enrollment. After informed consent was obtained, BUS was performed on the subjects by trained EPs who had undergone a minimum of one-hour didactic training on the use of BUS to diagnose appendicitis.They then recorded elements of clinical history, physical examination, white blood cell count (WBC) with polymophonuclear percentage (PMN), and BUS findings on a data form. We ascertained subject outcomes by a combination of medical record review and telephone follow-up.
Results: A total of 125 subjects consented for the study, and 116 had adequate image data for final analysis. Prevalence of appendicitis was 40%. Mean age of the subjects was 20.2 years, and 51% were male. BUS was 100% sensitive (95% CI 87-100%) and 32% specific (95% CI 14-57%) for detection of appendicitis, with a positive predictive value of 72% (95% CI 56-84%), and a negative predictive value of 100% (95% CI 52-100%). Assuming all non-diagnostic studies were negative would yield a sensitivity of 72% and specificity of 81%. Subjects with appendicitis had a significantly higher occurrence of anorexia, nausea, vomiting, and a higher WBC and PMN count when compared to those without appendicitis. Their BUS studies were significantly more likely to result in visualization of the appendix, appendix diameter >6mm, appendix wall thickness >2mm, periappendiceal fluid, visualization of the appendix tip, and sonographic Mcburney’s sign (p<0.05). In subjects with diagnostic BUS studies, WBC, PMN, visualization of appendix, appendix diameter >6mm, appendix wall thickness >2mm, periappendiceal fluid were found to be predictors of appendicitis on logistic regression.
Conclusion: BUS is moderately useful for appendicitis diagnosis. We also identified several components in routine ED workup and BUS that are associated with appendicitis generating hypothesis for future studies. [West J Emerg Med. 2014;15(7):-0.]
Gastrointestinal Manifestations of Hereditary Angioedema Diagnosed by Ultrasound in the Emergency Department
Abdominal angioedema is a less recognized type of angioedema, which can occur in patients with hereditary angioedema (HAE). The clinical signs may range from subtle, diffuse abdominal pain and nausea, to overt peritonitis. We describe two cases of abdominal angioedema in patients with known HAE that were diagnosed in the emergency department by point-of-care (POC) ultrasound. In each case, the patient presented with isolated abdominal complaints and no signs of oropharyngeal edema. Findings on POC ultrasound included intraperitoneal free fluid and bowel wall edema. Both patients recovered uneventfully after receiving treatment. Because it can be performed rapidly, requires no ionizing radiation,and can rule out alternative diagnoses, POC ultrasound holds promise as a valuable tool in the evaluation and management of patients with HAE. [West J Emerg Med. 2014;15(7):-0.]
A 49-year-old man presented to the emergency department (ED) with shoulder pain after intramuscular injection of heroin into his right deltoid muscle. Point-of-care (POC) ultrasound identified a subdeltoid abscess, and ultrasound-guided aspiration of the fluid collection was performed. The patient was admitted and improved on antibiotics and made a complete recovery. POC ultrasound and ultrasound-guided aspiration can assist in the diagnosis and treatment of deep musculoskeletal abscesses. [West J Emerg Med. 2014;15(7):–0.]
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A 33 year-old female presented to the emergency department (ED) with of two weeks of diffuse abdominal pain, right flank pain, and a slowly enlarging right inguinal mass. She had no associated fever, chills, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. She was evaluated by her primary care physician, and an inguinal ultrasound was obtained prior to referral to the ED. On arrival in the ED, her vital signs were unremarkable, and she was afebrile. On exam, there was no abdominal tenderness, and a 2cm x 2cm non-reducible, mildly tender right inguinal mass was noted. A bedside ultrasound (Figures 1 and 2) was performed in the ED. [West J Emerg Med. 2014;15(7):–0.]
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Ultrasound-Guided Small Vessel Cannulation: Long-Axis Approach Is Equivalent to Short-Axis in Novice Sonographers Experienced with Landmark-Based Cannulation
Introduction: Our primary objective was to describe the time to vessel penetration and difficulty of long-axis and short-axis approaches for ultrasound-guided small vessel penetration in novice sonographers experienced with landmark-based small vessel penetration.
Methods: This was a prospective, observational study of experienced certified emergency nurses attempting ultrasound-guided small vessel cannulation on a vascular access phantom. We conducted a standardized training, practice, and experiment session for each participant. Five long-axis and five short-axis approaches were attempted in alternating sequence. The primary outcome was time to vessel penetration. Secondary outcomes were number of skin penetrations and number of catheter redirections. We compared long-axis and short-axis approaches using multivariable regression adjusting for repeated measures, vessel depth, and vessel caliber.
Results: Each of 10 novice sonographers made 10 attempts for a total of 100 attempts. Median time to vessel penetration in the long-axis and short-axis was 11 (95% confidence interval [CI] 7-12) and 10 (95% CI 6-13) seconds, respectively. Skin penetrations and catheter redirections were equivalent and near optimal between approaches. The median caliber of cannulated vessels in the long-axis and short-axis was 4.6 (95% CI 4.1-5.5) and 5.6 (95% CI 5.1-6.2) millimeters, respectively. Both axes had equal success rates of 100% for all 50 attempts. In multivariable regression analysis, long-axis attempts were 32% (95% CI 11%-48%; p=0.009) faster than short-axis attempts.
Conclusion: Novice sonographers, highly proficient with peripheral IV cannulation, can perform after instruction ultrasound-guided small vessel penetration successfully with similar time to vessel penetration in either the long-axis or short-axis approach on phantom models . [West J Emerg Med. 2014;15(7):–0.]
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Accuracy of a Novel Ultrasound Technique for Confirmation of Endotracheal Intubation by Expert and Novice Emergency Physicians
Introduction: Recent research has investigated the use of ultrasound (US) for confirming endotracheal tube (ETT) placement with varying techniques, accuracies, and challenges. Our objective was to evaluate the accuracy of a novel, simplified, four-step (4S) technique.
Methods: We conducted a blinded, randomized trial of the 4S technique utilizing an adult human cadaver model. ETT placement was randomized to tracheal or esophageal location. Three US experts and 45 emergency medicine residents (EMR) performed a total of 150 scans. The primary outcome was the overall sensitivity and specificity of both experts and EMRs to detect location of ETT placement. Secondary outcomes included a priori subgroup comparison of experts and EMRs for thin and obese cadavers, time to detection, and level of operator confidence.
Results: Experts had a sensitivity of 100% (95% CI = 72% to 100%) and specificity of 100% (95% CI = 77% to 100%) on thin, and a sensitivity of 93% (95% CI = 66% to 100%) and specificity of 100% (95% CI = 75% to 100%) on obese cadavers. EMRs had a sensitivity of 91% (95% CI = 69% to 98%) and of specificity 96% (95% CI = 76% to 100%) on thin, and a sensitivity of 100% (95% CI = 82% to 100%) specificity of 48% (95% CI = 27% to 69%) on obese cadavers. The overall mean time to detection was 17 seconds (95% CI = 13 seconds to 20 seconds, range: 2 to 63 seconds) for US experts and 29 seconds (95% CI = 25 seconds to 33 seconds; range: 6 to 120 seconds) for EMRs. There was a statistically significant decrease in the specificity of this technique on obese cadavers when comparing the EMRs and experts, as well as an increased overall time to detection among the EMRs.
Conclusion: The simplified 4S technique was accurate and rapid for US experts. Among novices, the 4S technique was accurate in thin, but appears less accurate in obese cadavers. Further studies will determine optimal teaching time and accuracy in emergency department patients. [West J Emerg Med. 2014;15(7)-0.]
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We report the case of a 33-year-old woman returning from Haiti, presenting to our emergency department (ED) with fever, rash and arthralgia. Following a broad workup that included laboratory testing for dengue and malaria, our patient was diagnosed with Chikungunya virus, which was then reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for initiation of infection control. This case demonstrates the importance of the ED for infectious disease case identification and initiation of public health measures. This case also addresses public health implications of Chikungunya virus within the United States, and issues related to the potential for local spread and autochthonous cases. [West J Emerg Med. 2014;15(7):-0.]
Propofol is frequently used in the emergency department to provide procedural sedation for patients undergoing various procedures and is considered to be safe when administered by trained personnel. Pulmonary edema after administration of propofol has rarely been reported. We report a case of a 23-year-old healthy male who developed acute cough, hemoptysis and hypoxia following administration of propofol for splinting of a foot fracture. Chest radiography showed bilateral patchy infiltrates. The patient was treated successfully with supportive care. This report emphasizes the importance of this potentially fatal propofol-associated complication and discusses possible underlying mechanisms and related literature. [West J Emerg Med. 2014;15(7):–0.]
High altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE) is a form of high altitude illness characterized by cough, dyspnea upon exertion progressing to dyspnea at rest and eventual death, seen in patients who ascend over 2,500 meters, particularly if that ascent is rapid. This case describes a patient with no prior history of HAPE and extensive experience hiking above 2,500 meters who developed progressive dyspnea and cough while ascending to 3,200 meters. His risk factors included rapid ascent, high altitude, male sex, and a possible genetic predisposition for HAPE. [West J Emerg Med. 2014;15(7):–0.]
This case outlines the emergency department and surgical course of a 63-year-old male presenting with acute onset abdominal pain. Appendicitis was high on the differential for the treating physician, but after the computed tomography and laboratory evaluation were unremarkable, the patient was discharged only to return the next day. What ensued was one of the rarest cases of missed appendicitis documented in the medical literature. [West J Emerg Med. 2014;15(7):-0.]
Diphenhydramine Overdose with Intraventricular Conduction Delay Treated with Hypertonic Sodium Bicarbonate and IV Lipid Emulsion
Diphenhydramine toxicity commonly manifests with antimuscarinic features, including dry mucous membranes, tachycardia, urinary retention, mydriasis, tachycardia, and encephalopathy. Severe toxicity can include seizures and intraventricular conduction delay. We present here a case of a 23-year-old male presenting with recurrent seizures, hypotension and wide complex tachycardia who had worsening toxicity despite treatment with sodium bicarbonate. The patient was ultimately treated with intravenous lipid emulsion therapy that was temporally associated with improvement in the QRS duration. We also review the current literature that supports lipid use in refractory diphenhydramine toxicity. [West J Emerg Med. 2014;15(7):–0.]
Introduction: Acute appendicitis is the most common abdominal emergency requiring emergency surgery. However, the diagnosis is often challenging and the decision to operate, observe or further work-up a patient is often unclear. The utility of clinical scoring systems (namely the Alvarado score), laboratory markers, and the development of novel markers in the diagnosis of appendicitis remains controversial. This article presents an update on the diagnostic approach to appendicitis through an evidence-based review.
Methods: We performed a broad Medline search of radiological imaging, the Alvarado score, common laboratory markers, and novel markers in patients with suspected appendicitis.
Results: Computed tomography (CT) is the most accurate mode of imaging for suspected cases of appendicitis, but the associated increase in radiation exposure is problematic. The Alvarado score is a clinical scoring system that is used to predict the likelihood of appendicitis based on signs, symptoms and laboratory data. It can help risk stratify patients with suspected appendicitis and potentially decrease the use of CT imaging in patients with certain Alvarado scores. White blood cell (WBC), C-reactive protein (CRP), granulocyte count and proportion of polymorphonuclear (PMN) cells are frequently elevated in patients with appendicitis, but are insufficient on their own as a diagnostic modality. When multiple markers are used in combination their diagnostic utility is greatly increased. Several novel markers have been proposed to aid in the diagnosis of appendicitis; however, while promising, most are only in the preliminary stages of being studied.
Conclusion: While CT is the most accurate mode of imaging in suspected appendicitis, the accompanying radiation is a concern. Ultrasound may help in the diagnosis while decreasing the need for CT in certain circumstances. The Alvarado Score has good diagnostic utility at specific cutoff points. Laboratory markers have very limited diagnostic utility on their own but show promise when used in combination. Further studies are warranted for laboratory markers in combination and to validate potential novel markers. [West J Emerg Med. 2014;15(7):–0.]
A 67-year-old man presented to the emergency department with abdominal pain and groin bruising. He had no history of any disease or drug use. In his breaf story he had a heavy cough five days ago and bruises appeared on the abdomen skin and groin in the last two days. Ecchymosis extends in the midline from umblicus to the penis and scrotum in physical examination (Figure 1). Laboratory evaluation revealed normal hemoglobin level, platelet count, prothrombin time, and activated partial thromboplastin time. [West J Emerg Med. 2014;15(7):–0.]
Osteomyelitis pubis is an infectious inflammation of the symphysis pubis and accounts for 2% of hematogenous osteomyelitis. This differs from osteitis pubis, a non-infectious inflammation of the pubic symphysis, generally caused by shear forces in young athletes. Both conditions present with similar symptoms and are usually differentiated on the basis of biopsy and/or culture. A case of osteomyelitis pubis is presented with a discussion of symphisis pubis anatomy, clinical and laboratory presentation, etiology and risk factors, and optimal imaging studies. [West J Emerg Med. 2014;15(7):–0.]
Introduction: Documentation and billing for laceration repair involves a description of wound length. We designed this study to test the hypothesis that emergency department (ED) personnel can accurately estimate wound lengths without the aid of a measuring device.
Methods: This was a single-center prospective observational study performed in an academic ED. Seven wounds of varying lengths were simulated by creating lacerations on purchased pigs’ ears and feet. We asked healthcare providers, defined as nurses and physicians working in the ED, to estimate the length of each wound by visual inspection. Length estimates were given in centimeters (cm) and inches. Estimated lengths were considered correct if the estimate was within 0.5 cm or 0.2 inches of the actual length. We calculated the differences between estimated and actual laceration lengths for each laceration and compared the accuracy of physicians to nurses using an unpaired t-test.
Results: Thirty-two physicians (nine faculty and 23 residents) and 16 nurses participated. All subjects tended to overestimate in cm and inches. Physicians were able to estimate laceration length within 0.5 cm 36% of the time and within 0.2 inches 29% of the time. Physicians were more accurate at estimating wound lengths than nurses in both cm and inches. Both physicians and nurses were more accurate at estimating shorter lengths (<5.0 cm) than longer (>5.0 cm).
Conclusion: ED personnel are often unable to accurately estimate wound length in either cm or inches and tend to overestimate laceration lengths when based solely on visual inspection. Abstract [West J Emerg Med. 2014;15(7):–0.]
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A 55-year-old female presented to the emergency department at a small community hospital with cough, fever, dyspnea and blood-streaked sputum. A chest radiograph was ordered. She was diagnosed with pneumonia and discharged home with antibiotics. She returned three days later, afebrile, with worsening dyspnea and gross hemoptysis. She was found to have a murmur reported as chronic but had never been evaluated by echocardiography. A computed tomography chest and echocardiography were performed (Figure). She was diagnosed with a left atrial myxoma (Video). She was transferred and underwent tumor excision. [West J Emerg Med. 2014;15(7):-0.]
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Ethical and Legal Issues
Medical Identity theft in the emergency department (ED) can harm numerous individuals, and many frontline healthcare providers are unaware of this growing concern. The two cases described began as typical ED encounters until red flags were discovered upon validating the patient’s identity. Educating all healthcare personnel within and outside the ED regarding the subtle signs of medical identity theft and implementing institutional policies to identify these criminals will discourage further fraudulent behavior. [West J Emerg Med. 2014;15(7):–0.]
Introduction: Emergency department (ED) crowding negatively impacts patient care quality and efficiency. To reduce crowding many EDs use a physician-in-triage (PIT) process. However, few studies have evaluated the effect of a PIT processes on resident education. Our objective was to determine the impact of a PIT process implementation on resident education within the ED of an academic medical center.
Methods: We performed a prospective cross-sectional study for a 10-week period from March to June 2011, during operationally historic trended peak patient volume and arrival periods. Emergency medicine residents (three-year program) and faculty, blinded to the research objectives, were asked to evaluate the educational quality of each shift using a 5-point Likert scale. Residents and faculty also completed a questionnaire at the end of the study period assessing the perceived impact of the PIT process on resident education, patient care, satisfaction, and throughput. We compared resident and attending data using Mann-Whitney U tests.
Results: During the study period, 54 residents and attendings worked clinically during the PIT process with 78% completing questionnaires related to the study. Attendings and residents indicated “no impact” of the PIT process on resident education [median Likert score of 3.0, inter-quartile range (IQR): 2-4]. There was no difference in attending and resident perceptions (p-value =0.18). Both groups perceived patient satisfaction to be “positively impacted” [4.0, IQR:2-4 for attendings vs 4.0,IQR:1-5 for residents, p-value =0.75]. Residents perceived more improvement in patient throughput to than attendings [3.5, IQR:3-4 for attendings vs 4.0, IQR:3-5 for residents, p-value =0.006]. Perceived impact on differential diagnosis generation was negative in both groups [2.0, IQR:1-3 vs 2.5, IQR:1-5, p-value = 0.42]. The impact of PIT on selection of diagnostic studies and medical decision making was negative for attendings and neutral for residents: [(2.0, IQR:1-3 vs 3.0,IQR:1-4, p-value =0.10) and (2.0, IQR:1-4 vs 3.0, IQR:1-5, p-value =0.14 respectively].
Conclusion: Implementation of a PIT process at an academic medical center was not associated with a negative (or positive) perceived impact on resident education. However, attendings and residents felt that differential diagnosis development was negatively impacted. Attendings also felt diagnostic test selection and medical decision-making learning were negatively impacted by the PIT process. [West J Emerg Med. 2014;15(7):–0.]
Osteopathic Emergency Medicine Programs Infrequently Publish in High-Impact Emergency Medicine Journals
Introduction: Both the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) and the American Osteopathic Association (AOA) require core faculty to engage in scholarly work, including publication in peer-reviewed journals. With the ACGME/AOA merger, we sought to evaluate the frequency of publication in high-impact peer-reviewed EM journals from authors affiliated with osteopathic emergency medicine (EM) programs.
Methods: We performed a retrospective literature review using the Journal Citation Report database and identified the top five journals in the category of ‘Emergency Medicine’ by their 2011 Impact Factor. We examined all publications from each journal for 2011. For each article we recorded article type, authors’ names, position of authorship (first, senior or other), the author’s degree and affiliated institution. We present the data in raw numbers and percentages.
Results: The 2011 EM journals with the highest impact factor were the following: Annals of Emergency Medicine, Resuscitation, Journal of Trauma, Injury, and Academic Emergency Medicine. Of the 9,298 authors published in these journals in 2011; 1,309 (15%) claimed affiliation with U.S.-based EM programs, of which 16 (1%) listed their affiliations with eight different osteopathic EM programs. The 16 authors claimed affiliation with 8 of 46 osteopathic EM programs (17%), while 1,301 authors claimed affiliation with 104 of 148 (70%) U.S.-based allopathic programs.
Conclusion: Authors from osteopathic EM programs are under-represented in the top EM journals. With the pending ACGME/AOA merger, there is a significant opportunity for improvement in the rate of publication of osteopathic EM programs in top tier EM journals. [West J Emerg Med. 2014;15(7):-0.]
Introduction: Mounting evidence suggests that high-fidelity mannequin-based (HFMBS) and computer-based simulation are useful adjunctive educational tools for advanced cardiac life support (ACLS) instruction. We sought to determine whether access to a supplemental, online computer-based ACLS simulator would improve students’ performance on a standardized Mega Code using high-fidelity mannequin based simulation (HFMBS).
Methods: Sixty-five third-year medical students were randomized. Intervention group subjects (n = 29) each received a two-week access code to the online ACLS simulator, whereas the control group subjects (n = 36) did not. Primary outcome measures included students’ time to initiate chest compressions, defibrillate ventricular fibrillation, and pace symptomatic bradycardia. Secondary outcome measures included students’ subjective self-assessment of ACLS knowledge and confidence.
Results: Students with access to the online simulator on average defibrillated ventricular fibrillation in 112 seconds, whereas those without defibrillated in 149.9 seconds, an average of 38 seconds faster [p<.05]. Similarly, those with access to the simulator paced symptomatic bradycardia on average in 95.14 seconds whereas those without access paced on average 154.9 seconds a difference of 59.81 seconds [p<.05]. On a subjective 5-point scale, there was no difference in self-assessment of ACLS knowledge between the control (mean 3.3) versus intervention (mean 3.1) [p-value =.21]. Despite having outperformed the control group subjects in the standardized Mega Code test scenario, the intervention group felt less confident on a 5-point scale (mean 2.5) than the control group. (mean 3.2) [p<.05]
Conclusion: The reduction in time to defibrillate ventricular fibrillation and to pace symptomatic bradycardia among the intervention group subjects suggests that the online computer-based ACLS simulator is an effective adjunctive ACLS instructional tool. [West J Emerg Med. 2014;15(7):–0.]
Introduction: Our objective was to assess the efficacy of ultrasound-guided hip injections performed by emergency physicians (EPs) for the treatment of chronic hip pain in an outpatient clinic setting.
Methods: Patients were identified on a referral basis from the orthopedic chronic pain clinic. The patient population was either identified as having osteoarthritis of the hip, osteonecrosis of varying etiologies, post-traumatic osteoarthritis of the hip, or other non-infectious causes of chronic hip pain. Patients had an ultrasound-guided hip injection of 4ml of 0.5% bupivacaine and 1ml of triamcinolone acetate (40mg/1ml). Emergency medicine resident physicians under the supervision of an attending EP performed all injections. Pain scores were collected using a Likert pain scale from patients prior to the procedure, and 10 minutes post procedure and at short-term follow-up of one week and one month. The primary outcome was patient-reported pain score on a Likert pain scale at one week.
Results: We performed a total of 47 ultrasound-guided intra-articular hip injections on 44 subjects who met inclusion criteria. Three subjects received bilateral injections. Follow-up data were available for 42/47 (89.4%) hip injections at one week and 40/47 (85.1%) at one month. The greatest improvement was at 10 minutes after injection with a mean decrease in Likert pain score from pre-injection baseline of 5.57 (95% CI, 4.76-6.39). For the primary outcome at one week, we found a mean decrease in Likert pain score from pre-injection baseline of 3.85 (95% CI, 2.94-4.75). At one month we found a mean decrease in Likert pain score of 1.8 (95% CI, 1.12-2.53). There were no significant adverse outcomes reported.
Conclusion: Under the supervision of an attending EP, junior emergency medicine resident physicians can safely and effectively inject hips for chronic pain relief in an outpatient clinical setting using ultrasound guidance. [West J Emerg Med. 2014;15(7):-0.]
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Management of In-Flight Medical Emergencies: Are Senior Medical Students Prepared to Respond to this Community Need?
Introduction: In-flight medical emergencies on commercial aircraft are common in both domestic and international flights. We hypothesized that fourth-year medical students feel inadequately prepared to lend assistance during in-flight medical emergencies. This multicenter study of two U.S. medical schools obtains a baseline assessment of knowledge and confidence in managing in-flight medical emergencies.
Methods: A 25-question survey was administered to fourth-year medical students at two United States medical schools. Questions included baseline knowledge of in-flight medicine (10 questions) and perceived ability to respond to in-flight medical emergencies.
Results: 229 participants completed the survey (75% response rate). The average score on the fund of knowledge questions was 64%. Responses to the 5-point Likert scale questions indicated that, on average, students did not feel confident or competent responding to an in-flight medical emergency. Participants on average also disagreed with statements that they had adequate understanding of supplies, flight crew training, and ground-based management.
Conclusion: This multicenter survey indicates that fourth-year medical students do not feel adequately prepared to respond to in-flight medical emergencies and may have sub-optimal knowledge. This study provides an initial step in identifying a deficiency in current medical education. [West J Emerg Med. 2014;15(7):–0.]
Learning Curves for Direct Laryngoscopy and GlideScope® Video Laryngoscopy in an Emergency Medicine Residency
Introduction: Our objective is to evaluate the resident learning curves for direct laryngoscopy (DL) and GlideScope® video laryngoscopy (GVL) over the course of an emergency medicine (EM) residency training program.
Methods: This was an analysis of intubations performed in the emergency department (ED) by EM residents over a seven-year period from July 1, 2007 to June 30, 2014 at an academic ED with 70,000 annual visits. After EM residents perform an intubation in the ED they complete a continuous quality improvement (CQI) form. Data collected includes patient demographics, operator post- graduate year (PGY), difficult airway characteristics (DACs), method of intubation, device used for intubation and outcome of each attempt. We included in this analysis only adult intubations performed by EM residents using a DL or a standard reusable GVL. The primary outcome was first pass success, defined as a successful intubation with a single laryngoscope insertion. First pass success was evaluated for each PGY of training for DL and GVL. Logistic mixed-effects models were constructed for each device to determine the effect of PGY level on first pass success, after adjusting for important confounders.
Results: Over the seven-year period, the DL was used as the initial device on 1,035 patients and the GVL was used as the initial device on 578 patients by EM residents. When using the DL the first past success of PGY-1 residents was 69.9% (160/229; 95% CI 63.5%-75.7%), of PGY-2 residents was 71.7% (274/382; 95% CI 66.9%-76.2%), and of PGY-3 residents was 72.9% (309/424; 95% CI 68.4%-77.1%). When using the GVL the first pass success of PGY-1 residents was 74.4% (87/117; 95% CI 65.5%-82.0%), of PGY-2 residents was 83.6% (194/232; 95% CI 76.7%-87.7%), and of PGY-3 residents was 90.0% (206/229; 95% CI 85.3%-93.5%). In the mixed-effects model for DL, first pass success for PGY-2 and PGY-3 residents did not improve compared to PGY-1 residents (PGY-2 aOR 1.3, 95% CI 0.9-1.9; p-value 0.236) (PGY-3 aOR 1.5, 95% CI 1.0-2.2, p-value 0.067). However, in the model for GVL, first pass success for PGY-2 and PGY-3 residents improved compared to PGY-1 residents (PGY-2 aOR 2.1, 95% CI 1.1-3.8, p-value 0.021) (PGY-3 aOR 4.1, 95% CI 2.1-8.0, p<0.001).
Conclusion: Over the course of residency training there was no significant improvement in EM resident first pass success with the DL, but substantial improvement with the GVL. [West J Emerg Med. 2014;15(7):-0.]
The Flipped Classroom: A Modality for Mixed Asynchronous and Synchronous Learning in a Residency Program
Introduction: A “flipped classroom” educational model exchanges the traditional format of a classroom lecture and homework problem set. We piloted two flipped classroom sessions in our emergency medicine (EM) residency didactic schedule. We aimed to learn about resident and faculty impressions of the sessions, in order to develop them as a regular component of our residency curriculum.
Methods: We evaluated residents’ impression of the asynchronous video component and synchronous classroom component using four Likert items. We used open-ended questions to inquire about resident and faculty impressions of the advantages and disadvantages of the format.
Results: For the Likert items evaluating the video lectures, 33/35 residents (94%, 95% CI 80%-99%) responded that the video lecture added to their knowledge about the topic, and 33/35 residents felt that watching the video was a valuable use of their time. For items evaluating the flipped classroom format, 36/38 residents (95%, 95% CI 82%-99%) preferred the format to a traditional lecture on the topic, and 38/38 residents (100%, 95% CI 89%-100%) felt that the small group session was effective in helping them learn about the topic. Most residents preferred to see the format monthly in our curriculum and chose an ideal group size of 5.5 (first session) and 7 (second session). Residents cited the interactivity of the sessions and access to experts as advantages of the format. Faculty felt the ability to assess residents’ understanding of concepts and provide feedback were advantages.
Conclusion: Our flipped classroom model was positively received by EM residents. Residents preferred a small group size and favored frequent use of the format in our curriculum. The flipped classroom represents one modality that programs may use to incorporate a mixture of asynchronous and interactive synchronous learning and provide additional opportunities to evaluate residents. [West J Emerg Med. 2014;15(7):-0.]
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