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ARTICLES IN PRESS
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Volume 17, Issue 2, 2016
Volume 17 Issue 2
Table of Contents
Reduction in Radiation Exposure through a Stress Test Algorithm in an Emergency Department Observation Unit
Introduction: Clinicians are urged to decrease radiation exposure from unnecessary medical procedures. Many emergency department (ED) patients placed in an observation unit (EDOU) do not require chest pain evaluation with a nuclear stress test (NucST). We sought to implement a simple ST algorithm that favors non-nuclear stress test (Non-NucST) options to evaluate the effect of the algorithm on the proportion of patients exposed to radiation by comparing use of NucST versus Non-NucST pre- and post-algorithm.
Methods: An ST algorithm was introduced favoring Non-NucST and limiting NucST to a subset of EDOU patients in October 2008. We analyzed aggregate data before (Jan-Sept 2008, period 1) and after (Jan-Sept 2009 and Jan-Sept 2010, periods 2 and 3 respectively) algorithm introduction. A random sample of 240 EDOU patients from each period was used to compare 30-day major adverse cardiac events (MACE). We calculated confidence intervals for proportions or the difference between two proportions.
Results: A total of 5,047 STs were performed from Jan-Sept 2008-2010. NucST in the EDOU decreased after algorithm introduction from period 1 to 2 (40.7%, 95% CI [38.3-43.1] vs. 22.1%, 95% CI [20.1-24.1]), and remained at 22.1%, 95% CI [20.3-24.0] in period 3. There was no difference in 30-day MACE rates before and after algorithm use (0.1% for period 1 and 3, 0% for period 2).
Conclusion: Use of a simple ST algorithm that favors non-NucST options decreases the proportion of EDOU chest pain patients exposed to radiation exposure from ST almost 50% by limiting NucST to a subset of patients, without a change in 30-day MACE.
Health Policy Analysis
Introduction: In the United States, Emergency Medical Services (EMS) protocols vary widely across jurisdictions. We sought to develop evidence-based recommendations for the prehospital evaluation and treatment of a patient with a suspected stroke and to compare these recommendations against the current protocols utilized by the 33 EMS agencies in the State of California.
Methods: We performed a literature review of the current evidence in the prehospital treatment of a patient with a suspected stroke and augmented this review with guidelines from various national and international societies to create our evidence-based recommendations. We then compared the stroke protocols of each of the 33 EMS agencies for consistency with these recommendations. The specific protocol components that we analyzed were the use of a stroke scale, blood glucose evaluation, use of supplemental oxygen, patient positioning, 12 lead ECG and cardiac monitoring, fluid assessment and intravenous access, and stroke regionalization.
Results: Protocols across EMS agencies in California varied widely. Most used some sort of stroke scale with the majority using the Cincinnati Prehospital Stroke Scale (CPSS). All recommended the evaluation of blood glucose with the level for action ranging from 60 to 80mg/dL. Cardiac monitoring was recommended in 58% and 33% recommended an ECG. More than half required the direct transport to a primary stroke center and 88% recommended hospital notification.
Conclusion: Protocols for a patient with a suspected stroke vary widely across the State of California. The evidence-based recommendations that we present for the prehospital diagnosis and treatment of this condition may be useful for EMS medical directors tasked with creating and revising these protocols.
Introduction: The objective of this study was to investigate the factors associated with first-pass success in pediatric intubation in the emergency department (ED).
Methods: We analyzed the data from two multicenter prospective studies of ED intubation in 17 EDs between April 2010 and September 2014. The studies prospectively measured patient’s age, sex, principal indication for intubation, methods (e.g., rapid sequence intubation [RSI]), devices, and intubator’s level of training and specialty. To evaluate independent predictors of first-pass success, we fit logistic regression model with generalized estimating equations. In the sensitivity analysis, we repeated the analysis in children <10 years.
Results: A total of 293 children aged ≤18 years who underwent ED intubation were eligible for the analysis. The overall first-pass success rate was 60% (95%CI [54%-66%]). In the multivariable model, age ≥10 years (adjusted odds ratio [aOR], 2.45; 95% CI [1.23-4.87]), use of RSI (aOR, 2.17; 95% CI [1.31-3.57]), and intubation attempt by an emergency physician (aOR, 3.21; 95% CI [1.78-5.83]) were significantly associated with a higher chance of first-pass success. Likewise, in the sensitivity analysis, the use of RSI (aOR, 3.05; 95% CI [1.63-5.70]), and intubation attempt by an emergency physician (aOR, 4.08; 95% CI [1.92-8.63]) were significantly associated with a higher chance of first-pass success.
Conclusion: Based on two large multicenter prospective studies of ED airway management, we found that older age, use of RSI, and intubation by emergency physicians were the independent predictors of a higher chance of first-pass success in children. Our findings should facilitate investigations to develop optimal airway management strategies in critically-ill children in the ED.
While great strides have been made in diagnostic and treatment strategies, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) remains a major public health epidemic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report article, “Vital Signs: HIV Diagnosis, Care, and Treatment Among Persons Living with HIV – United States, 2011,” highlights current areas of concern regarding HIV diagnosis and care. The CDC estimates that 1.2 million people in the U.S. are living with HIV. Of them, 86% have received a diagnosis (14% remain undiagnosed and unaware), but only 40% are engaged in care and a mere 30% are virally suppressed. Emergency departments (EDs) can play a major role in combatting the HIV epidemic through regular screening and facilitating linkage to chronic HIV care. Universal opt-out screening as recommended by the CDC in 2006 has been shown to be effective but expensive, and has not been widely implemented in EDs nationwide. Cost-effective models and a renewed commitment from ED providers are needed to enhance ED-based HIV containment strategies.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has published significant data and trends related to the rising epidemic of usage of alternate forms of tobacco among the nation’s youth. For the first time ever, the use of the electronic cigarette (e-cigarrette) has surpassed traditional cigarette usage in adolescents. E-cigarettes are battery-operated products designed to deliver aerosolized nicotine and other flavors to the consumer. Most look like conventional cigarettes but some resemble everyday items such as pens, USB drives, and memory sticks.1 In the following article, we present findings from the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report with commentary on the state of this growing epidemic and barriers to effective screening methods.
Impact of a Dedicated Emergency Medicine Teaching Resident Rotation at a Large Urban Academic Center
Introduction: In the face of declining bedside teaching and increasing emergency department (ED) crowding, balancing education and patient care is a challenge. Dedicated shifts by teaching residents (TRs) in the ED represent an educational intervention to mitigate these difficulties. We aimed to measure the perceived learning and departmental impact created by having TR.
Methods: TRs were present in the ED from 12pm-10pm daily, and their primary roles were to provide the following: assist in teaching procedures, give brief “chalk talks,” instruct junior trainees on interesting cases, and answer clinical questions in an evidence-based manner. This observational study included a survey of fourth-year medical students (MSs), residents and faculty at an academic ED. Surveys measured the perceived effect of the TR on teaching, patient flow, ease of procedures, and clinical care.
Results: Survey response rates for medical students, residents, and faculty are 56%, 77%, and 75%, respectively. MSs perceived improved procedure performance with TR presence and the majority agreed that the TR was a valuable educational experience. Residents perceived increased patient flow, procedure performance, and MS learning with TR presence. The majority agreed that the TR improved patient care. Faculty agreed that the TR increased resident and MS learning, as well as improved patient care and procedure performance.
Conclusion: The presence of a TR increased MS and resident learning, improved patient care and procedure performance as perceived by MSs, residents and faculty. A dedicated TR program can provide a valuable resource in achieving a balance of clinical education and high quality healthcare.
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Can Simulation Measure Differences in Task-Switching Ability Between Junior and Senior Emergency Medicine Residents?
Introduction: Work interruptions during patient care have been correlated with error. Task-switching is identified by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) as a core competency for emergency medicine (EM). Simulation has been suggested as a means of assessing EM core competencies. We assumed that senior EM residents had better task-switching abilities than junior EM residents. We hypothesized that this difference could be measured by observing the execution of patient care tasks in the simulation environment when a patient with a ST-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) interrupted the ongoing management of a septic shock case.
Methods: This was a multi-site, prospective, observational, cohort study. The study population consisted of a convenience sample of EM residents in their first three years of training. Each subject performed a standardized simulated encounter by evaluating and treating a patient in septic shock. At a predetermined point in every sepsis case, the subject was given a STEMI electrocardiogram (ECG) for a separate chest pain patient in triage and required to verbalize an interpretation and action. We scored learner performance using a dichotomous checklist of critical actions covering sepsis care, ECG interpretation and triaging of the STEMI patient.
Results: Ninety-one subjects participated (30 postgraduate year [PGY]1s, 32 PGY2s, and 29 PGY3s). Of those, 87 properly managed the patient with septic shock (90.0% PGY1s, 100% PGY2, 96.6% PGY 3s; p=0.22). Of the 87 who successfully managed the septic shock, 80 correctly identified STEMI on the simulated STEMI patient (86.7% PGY1s, 96.9% PGY2s, 93.1% PGY3s; p=0.35). Of the 80 who successfully managed the septic shock patient and correctly identified the STEMI, 79 provided appropriate interventions for the STEMI patient (73.3% PGY1s, 93.8% PGY2s, 93.8% PGY3s; p=0.07).
Conclusion: When management of a septic shock patient was interrupted with a STEMI ECG in a simulated environment we were unable to measure a significant difference in the ability of EM residents to successfully task-switch when compared across PGY levels of training. This study may help refine the use of simulation to assess EM resident competencies.
Impact of Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders on Emergency Department Visit Outcomes for HIV Patients
Introduction: A disproportionate number of individuals with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) have mental health and substance-use disorders (MHSUDs), and MHSUDs are significantly associated with their emergency department (ED) visits. With an increasing share of older adults among HIV patients, this study investigated the associations of MHSUDs with ED outcomes of HIV patients in four age groups: 21-34, 35-49, 50-64, and 65+ years.
Methods: We used the 2012 Nationwide Emergency Department Sample (NEDS) dataset (unweighted n=23,244,819 ED events by patients aged 21+, including 115,656 visits by patients with HIV). Multinomial and binary logistic regression analyses, with “treat-and-release” as the base outcome, were used to examine associations between ED outcomes and MHSUDs among visits that included a HIV diagnosis in each age group.
Results: Mood and “other” mental disorders had small effects on ED-to-hospital admissions, as opposed to treat-and-release, in age groups younger than 65+ years, while suicide attempts had medium effects (RRR=3.56, CI [2.69-4.70]; RRR=4.44, CI [3.72-5.30]; and RRR=5.64, CI [4.38-7.26] in the 21-34, 35-49, and 50-64 age groups, respectively). Cognitive disorders had medium-to-large effects on hospital admissions in all age groups and large effects on death in the 35-49 (RRR=7.29, CI [3.90-13.62]) and 50-64 (RRR=5.38, CI [3.39-8.55]) age groups. Alcohol use disorders (AUDs) had small effects on hospital admission in all age groups (RRR=2.35, 95% CI [1.92-2.87]; RRR=2.15, 95% CI [1.95-2.37]; RRR=1.92, 95% CI [1.73-2.12]; and OR=1.93, 95% CI [1.20-3.10] in the 21-34, 35-49, 50-64, and 65+ age groups, respectively). Drug use disorders (DUDs) had small-to-medium effects on hospital admission (RRR=4.40, 95% CI [3.87-5.0]; RRR=4.07, 95% CI [3.77-4.40]; RRR=4.17, 95% CI [3.83-4.55]; and OR=2.53, 95% CI [2.70-3.78] in the 21-34, 35-49, 50-64, and 65+ age groups, respectively). AUDs and DUDs were also significantly related to the risk of death, and DUDs had a small effect on the risk of discharge against medical advice in the 35-49 and 50-64 age groups.
Conclusion: The high prevalence of MHSUDs and their significant roles in ED visit outcomes in patients with HIV provide support for integrated care for these patients outside the ED to reduce their ED visits and costly hospital admissions and institutional care that follows, especially for the increasing numbers of older adults with HIV.
Introduction: Patient agitation represents a significant challenge in the emergency department (ED), a setting in which medical staff are working under pressure dealing with a diverse range of medical emergencies. The potential for escalation into aggressive behavior, putting patients, staff, and others at risk, makes it imperative to address agitated behavior rapidly and efficiently. Time constraints and limited access to specialist psychiatric support have in the past led to the strategy of “restrain and sedate,” which was believed to represent the optimal approach; however, it is increasingly recognized that more patient-centered approaches result in improved outcomes. The objective of this review is to raise awareness of best practices for the management of agitation in the ED and to consider the role of new pharmacologic interventions in this setting.
Discussion: The Best practices in Evaluation and Treatment of Agitation (BETA) guidelines address the complete management of agitation, including triage, diagnosis, interpersonal calming skills, and medicine choices. Since their publication in 2012, there have been further developments in pharmacologic approaches for dealing with agitation, including both new agents and new modes of delivery, which increase the options available for both patients and physicians. Newer modes of delivery that could be useful in rapidly managing agitation include inhaled, buccal/sublingual and intranasal formulations. To date, the only formulation administered via a non-intramuscular route with a specific indication for agitation associated with bipolar or schizophrenia is inhaled loxapine. Non-invasive formulations, although requiring cooperation from patients, have the potential to improve overall patient experience, thereby improving future cooperation between patients and healthcare providers.
Conclusion: Management of agitation in the ED should encompass a patient-centered approach, incorporating non-pharmacologic approaches if feasible. Where pharmacologic intervention is necessary, a cooperative approach using non-invasive medications should be employed where possible.
Methylsalicylate-containing rubefacients have been reported to cause salicylate poisoning after ingestion, topical application to abnormal skin, and inappropriate topical application to normal skin. Many over-the-counter products contain methylsalicylate. Topical salicylates rarely produce systemic toxicity when used appropriately; however, methylsaliclyate can be absorbed through intact skin. Scrotal skin can have up to 40-fold greater absorption compared to other dermal regions. We report a unique case of salicylate poisoning resulting from the use of a methylsalicylate-containing rubefacient to facilitate masturbation in a male teenager. Saliclyate toxicity has not previously been reported from the genital exposure to methylsaliclyate.
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Technology in Emergency Medicine
There’s an App for That? Highlighting the Difficulty in Finding Clinically Relevant Smartphone Applications
Introduction: The use of personal mobile devices in the medical field has grown quickly, and a large proportion of physicians use their mobile devices as an immediate resource for clinical decision-making, prescription information and other medical information. The iTunes App Store (Apple, Inc.) contains approximately 20,000 apps in its “Medical” category, providing a robust repository of resources for clinicians; however, this represents only 2% of the entire App Store. The App Store does not have strict criteria for identifying content specific to practicing physicians, making the identification of clinically relevant content difficult. The objective of this study is to quantify the characteristics of existing medical applications in the iTunes App Store that could be used by emergency physicians, residents, or medical students.
Methods: We found applications related to emergency medicine (EM) by searching the iTunes App Store for 21 terms representing core content areas of EM, such as “emergency medicine,” “critical care,” “orthopedics,” and “procedures.” Two physicians independently reviewed descriptions of these applications in the App Store and categorized each as the following: Clinically Relevant, Book/Published Source, Non-English, Study Tools, or Not Relevant. A third physician reviewer resolved disagreements about categorization. Descriptive statistics were calculated.
Results: We found a total of 7,699 apps from the 21 search terms, of which 17.8% were clinical, 9.6% were based on a book or published source, 1.6% were non-English, 0.7% were clinically relevant patient education resources, and 4.8% were study tools. Most significantly, 64.9% were considered not relevant to medical professionals. Clinically relevant apps make up approximately 6.9% of the App Store’s “Medical” Category and 0.1% of the overall App Store.
Conclusion: Clinically relevant apps represent only a small percentage (6.9%) of the total App volume within the Medical section of the App Store. Without a structured search-and-evaluation strategy, it may be difficult for the casual user to identify this potentially useful content. Given the increasing adoption of devices in healthcare, national EM associations should consider curating these resources for their members.
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Introduction: Retinal detachment is an ocular emergency that commonly presents to the emergency department (ED). Ophthalmologists are able to accurately make this diagnosis with a dilated fundoscopic exam, scleral depression or ophthalmic ultrasound when a view to the retina is obstructed. Emergency physicians (EPs) are not trained to examine the peripheral retina, and thus ophthalmic ultrasound can be used to aid in diagnosis. We assessed the accuracy of ocular point-of-care ultrasound (POCUS) in diagnosing retinal detachment.
Methods: We retrospectively reviewed charts of ED patients with suspected retinal detachment who underwent ocular POCUS between July 2012 and May 2015. Charts were reviewed for patients presenting to the ED with ocular complaints and clinical concern for retinal detachment. We compared ocular POCUS performed by EPs against the criterion reference of the consulting ophthalmologist’s diagnosis.
Results: We enrolled a total of 109 patients. Of the 34 patients diagnosed with retinal detachment by the ophthalmologists, 31 were correctly identified as having retinal detachment by the EP using ocular POCUS. Of the 75 patients who did not have retinal detachment, 72 were ruled out by ocular POCUS by the EP. This resulted in a POCUS sensitivity of 91% (95% CI [76-98]) and specificity of 96% (95% CI [89-99]).
Conclusion: This retrospective study suggests that ocular POCUS performed by EPs can aid in the diagnosis of retinal detachment in ED.
Introduction: Two-point compression ultrasound is purportedly a simple and accurate means to diagnose proximal lower extremity deep vein thrombosis (DVT), but the pitfalls of this technique have not been fully elucidated. The objective of this study is to determine the accuracy of emergency medicine resident-performed two-point compression ultrasound, and to determine what technical errors are commonly made by novice ultrasonographers using this technique.
Methods: This was a prospective diagnostic test assessment of a convenience sample of adult emergency department (ED) patients suspected of having a lower extremity DVT. After brief training on the technique, residents performed two-point compression ultrasounds on enrolled patients. Subsequently a radiology department ultrasound was performed and used as the gold standard. Residents were instructed to save videos of their ultrasounds for technical analysis.
Results: Overall, 288 two-point compression ultrasound studies were performed. There were 28 cases that were deemed to be positive for DVT by radiology ultrasound. Among these 28, 16 were identified by the residents with two-point compression. Among the 260 cases deemed to be negative for DVT by radiology ultrasound, 10 were thought to be positive by the residents using two-point compression. This led to a sensitivity of 57.1% (95% CI [38.8-75.5]) and a specificity of 96.1% (95% CI [93.8-98.5]) for resident-performed two-point compression ultrasound. This corresponds to a positive predictive value of 61.5% (95% CI 42.8% to 80.2%) and a negative predictive value of 95.4% (95% CI 92.9% to 98.0%). The positive likelihood ratio is 14.9 (95% CI 7.5 to 29.5) and the negative likelihood ratio is 0.45 (95% CI 0.29 to 0.68). Video analysis revealed that in four cases the resident did not identify a DVT because the thrombus was isolated to the superior femoral vein (SFV), which is not evaluated by two-point compression. Moreover, the video analysis revealed that the most common mistake made by the residents was inadequate visualization of the popliteal vein.
Conclusion: Two-point compression ultrasound does not identify isolated SFV thrombi, which reduces its sensitivity. Moreover, this technique may be more difficult than previously reported, in part because novice ultrasonographers have difficulty properly assessing the popliteal vein.
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Computerized Diagnostic Assistant for the Automatic Detection of Pneumothorax on Ultrasound: A Pilot Study
Introduction: Bedside thoracic ultrasound (US) can rapidly diagnose pneumothorax (PTX) with improved accuracy over the physical examination and without the need for chest radiography (CXR); however, US is highly operator dependent. A computerized diagnostic assistant was developed by the United States Army Institute of Surgical Research to detect PTX on standard thoracic US images. This computer algorithm is designed to automatically detect sonographic signs of PTX by systematically analyzing B-mode US video clips for pleural sliding and M-mode still images for the seashore sign. This was a pilot study to estimate the diagnostic accuracy of the PTX detection computer algorithm when compared to an expert panel of US trained physicians.
Methods: This was a retrospective study using archived thoracic US obtained on adult patients presenting to the emergency department (ED) between 5/23/2011 and 8/6/2014. Emergency medicine residents, fellows, attending physicians, physician assistants, and medical students performed the US examinations and stored the images in the picture archive and communications system (PACS). The PACS was queried for all ED bedside US examinations with reported positive PTX during the study period along with a random sample of negatives. The computer algorithm then interpreted the images, and we compared the results to an independent, blinded expert panel of three physicians, each with experience reviewing over 10,000 US examinations.
Results: Query of the PACS system revealed 146 bedside thoracic US examinations for analysis. Thirteen examinations were indeterminate and were excluded. There were 79 true negatives, 33 true positives, 9 false negatives, and 12 false positives. The test characteristics of the algorithm when compared to the expert panel were sensitivity 79% (95 % CI [63-89]) and specificity 87% (95% CI [77-93]). For the 20 images scored as highest quality by the expert panel, the algorithm demonstrated 100% sensitivity (95% CI [56-100]) and 92% specificity (95% CI [62-100]).
Conclusion: This novel computer algorithm has potential to aid clinicians with the identification of the sonographic signs of PTX in the absence of expert physician sonographers. Further refinement and training of the algorithm is still needed, along with prospective validation, before it can be utilized in clinical practice.
Despite multiple advantages, subclavian vein (SCV) cannulation via the traditional landmark approach has become less used in comparison to ultrasound (US) guided internal jugular catheterization due to a higher rate of mechanical complications. A growing body of evidence indicates that SCV catheterization with real-time US guidance can be accomplished safely and efficiently. While several cannulation approaches with real-time US guidance have been described, available literature suggests that the infraclavicular, longitudinal “in-plane” technique may be preferred. This approach allows for direct visualization of needle advancement, which reduces risk of complications and improves successful placement. Infraclavicular SCV cannulation requires simultaneous use of US during needle advancement, but for an inexperienced operator, it is more easily learned compared to the traditional landmark approach. In this article, we review the evidence supporting the use of US guidance for SCV catheterization and discuss technical aspects of the procedure itself.
Introduction: This study compared the effects of vasopressin via tibial intraosseous (IO) and intravenous (IV) routes on maximum plasma concentration (Cmax), the time to maximum concentration (Tmax), return of spontaneous circulation (ROSC), and time to ROSC in a hypovolemic cardiac arrest model.
Methods: This study was a randomized prospective, between-subjects experimental design. A computer program randomly assigned 28 Yorkshire swine to one of four groups: IV (n=7), IO tibia (n=7), cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) + defibrillation (n=7), and a control group that received just CPR (n=7). Ventricular fibrillation was induced, and subjects remained in arrest for two minutes. CPR was initiated and 40 units of vasopressin were administered via IO or IV routes. Blood samples were collected at 0.5, 1, 1.5, 2, 2.5, 3, and 4 minutes. CPR and defibrillation were initiated for 20 minutes or until ROSC was achieved. We measured vasopressin concentrations using high-performance liquid chromatography.
Results: There was no significant difference between the IO and IV groups relative to achieving ROSC (p=1.0) but a significant difference between the IV compared to the CPR+ defibrillation group (p=0.031) and IV compared to the CPR-only group (p=0.001). There was a significant difference between the IO group compared to the CPR+ defibrillation group (p=0.031) and IO compared to the CPR-only group (p=0.001). There was no significant difference between the CPR + defibrillation group and the CPR group (p=0.127). There was no significant difference in Cmax between the IO and IV groups (p=0.079). The mean ± standard deviation of Cmax of the IO group was 58,709 ± 25,463pg/mL compared to the IV group, which was 106,198 ± 62,135pg/mL. There was no significant difference in mean Tmax between the groups (p=0.084). There were no significant differences in odds of ROSC between the tibial IO and IV groups.
Conclusion: Prompt access to the vascular system using the IO route can circumvent the interruption in treatment observed with attempting conventional IV access. The IO route is an effective modality for the treatment of hypovolemic cardiac arrest and may be considered first line for rapid vascular access.
Emergency Department Administration
In 2007, the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) created a novel payment program to create incentives for physician’s to focus on quality of care measures and report quality performance for the first time. Initially termed “The Physician Voluntary Reporting Program,” various Congressional actions, including the Tax Relief and Health Care Act of 2006 (TRHCA) and Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act of 2008 (MIPPA) further strengthened and ensconced this program, eventually leading to the quality program termed today as the Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS). As a result of passage of the Affordable Care Act of 2010, the PQRS program has expanded to include both the “traditional PQRS” reporting program and the newer “Value Modifier” program (VM). For the first time, these programs were designed to include pay-for-performance incentives for all physicians providing care to Medicare beneficiaries and to measure the cost of care. The recent passage of the Medicare Access and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) Reauthorization Act in March of 2015 includes changes to these payment programs that will have an even more profound impact on emergency care providers. We describe the implications of these important federal policy changes for emergency physicians.