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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Volume 21, Issue 6, 2020

Endemic Infections

Practical Diagnostic Accuracy of Nasopharyngeal Swab Testing for Novel Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

Introduction: The novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) is the cause of COVID-19, which has had a devastating international impact. Prior reports of testing have reported low sensitivities of nasopharyngeal polymerase chain reaction (PCR), and reports of viral co-infections have varied from 0-20%. Therefore, we sought to determine the accuracy of nasopharyngeal PCR for COVID-19 and rates of viral co-infection.

Methods: We conducted a retrospective chart review of all patients who received viral testing between March 1, 2020–April 28, 2020. Test results of a complete viral pathogen panel and COVID-19 testing were abstracted. We compared patients with more than one COVID-19 test for diagnostic accuracy against the gold standard of chart review.

Results: We identified 1950 patients, of whom 1024 were tested for COVID-19. There were 221 repeat tests for COVID-19. Among patients with a repeat test, COVID-19 swabs had a sensitivity of 84.6% (95% confidence interval (CI), 69.5-94.4%) and a specificity of 99.5% (95%CI, 97-100%) compared to a clinical and radiographic criterion reference by chart review. We found viral co-infection rates of 2.3% in patients without COVID-19 and 6.1% in patients with COVID-19. Rates of co-infection appeared to be related to base rates of infection in the community and not a specific property of COVID-19.

Conclusion: COVID-19 nasopharyngeal PCR specimens are accurate but have imperfect sensitivity. Repeat testing for high-risk patients should be considered, and presence of an alternative virus should not be used to limit testing for COVID-19 for patients where it would affect treatment or isolation.

Risk Stratification of COVID-19 Patients Using Ambulatory Oxygen Saturation in the Emergency Department

Introduction: It is difficult to determine illness severity for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) patients, especially among stable-appearing emergency department (ED) patients. We evaluated patient outcomes among ED patients with a documented ambulatory oxygen saturation measurement.

Methods: This was a retrospective chart review of ED patients seen at New York University Langone Health during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic in New York City. We identified ED patients who had a documented ambulatory oxygen saturation. We studied the outcomes of high oxygen requirement (defined as >4 liters per minute) and mechanical ventilation among admitted patients and bounceback admissions among discharged patients. We also performed logistic regression and compared the performance of different ambulatory oxygen saturation cutoffs in predicting these outcomes.

Results: Between March 15–April 14, 2020, 6194 patients presented with fever, cough, or shortness of breath at our EDs. Of these patients, 648 (11%) had a documented ambulatory oxygen saturation, of which 165 (24%) were admitted. Notably, admitted and discharged patients had similar initial vital signs. However, the average ambulatory oxygen saturation among admitted patients was significantly lower at 89% compared to 96% among discharged patients (p<0.01). Among admitted patients with an ambulatory oxygen saturation, 30% had high oxygen requirements and 8% required mechanical ventilation. These rates were predicted by low ambulatory oxygen saturation (p<0.01). Among discharged patients, 50 (10%) had a subsequent ED visit resulting in admission. Although bounceback admissions were predicted by ambulatory oxygen saturation at the first ED visit (p<0.01), our analysis of cutoffs suggested that this association may not be clinically useful.

Conclusion: Measuring ambulatory oxygen saturation can help ED clinicians identify patients who may require high levels of oxygen or mechanical ventilation during admission. However, it is less useful for identifying which patients may deteriorate clinically in the days after ED discharge and require subsequent hospitalization.


Emergency Department Management of COVID-19: An Evidence-Based Approach

The novel coronavirus, SARs-CoV-2, causes a clinical disease known as COVID-19. Since being declared a global pandemic, a significant amount of literature has been produced and guidelines are rapidly changing as more light is shed on this subject. Decisions regarding disposition must be made with attention to comorbidities. Multiple comorbidities portend a worse prognosis. Many clinical decision tools have been postulated; however, as of now, none have been validated. Laboratory testing available to the emergency physician is nonspecific but does show promise in helping prognosticate and risk stratify. Radiographic testing can also aid in the process. Escalating oxygen therapy seems to be a safe and effective therapy; delaying intubation for only the most severe cases in which respiratory muscle fatigue or mental status demands this. Despite thrombotic concerns in COVID-19, the benefit of anticoagulation in the emergency department (ED) seems to be minimal. Data regarding adjunctive therapies such as steroids and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories are variable with no concrete recommendations, although steroids may decrease mortality in those patients developing acute respiratory distress syndrome. With current guidelines in mind, we propose a succinct flow sheet for both the escalation of oxygen therapy as well as ED management and disposition of these patients.

  • 3 supplemental files

Underutilization of the Emergency Department During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Introduction: The novel coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic in the United States (US) prompted widespread containment measures such as shelter-in-place (SIP) orders. The goal of our study was to determine whether there was a significant change in overall volume and proportion of emergency department (ED) encounters since SIP measures began.

Methods: This was a retrospective, observational, cross-sectional study using billing data from January 1, 2017–April 20, 2020. We received data from 141 EDs across 16 states, encompassing a convenience sample of 26,223,438 ED encounters. We used a generalized least squares regression approach to ascertain changes for overall ED encounters, hospital admissions, and New York University ED visit algorithm categories.

Results: ED encounters decreased significantly in the post-SIP period. Overall, there was a 39.6% decrease in ED encounters compared to expected volume in the pre-SIP period. Emergent encounters decreased by 35.8%, while non-emergent encounters decreased by 52.1%. Psychiatric encounters decreased by 30.2%. Encounters related to drugs and alcohol decreased the least, by 9.3% and 27.5%, respectively.

Conclusion: There was a significant overall reduction in ED utilization in the post-SIP period. There was a greater reduction in lower acuity encounters than higher acuity encounters. Of all subtypes of ED encounters, substance abuse- and alcohol-related encounters reduced the least, and injury-related encounters reduced the most.

  • 1 supplemental file

Point-of-care Lung Ultrasound Is Useful to Evaluate Emergency Department Patients for COVID-19

Introduction: Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) can be a life-threatening lung disease or a trivial upper respiratory infection depending on whether the alveoli are involved. Emergency department (ED) evaluation of symptomatic patients with normal vital signs is frequently limited to chest auscultation and oro-nasopharyngeal swabs. We tested the null hypothesis that patients being screened for COVID-19 in the ED with normal vital signs and without hypoxia would have a point-of-care lung ultrasound (LUS) consistent with COVID-19 less than 2% of the time.

Methods: We performed a retrospective, structured, blinded ultrasound review and chart review in patients 14 years or older with symptoms prompting ED evaluation for COVID-19. We excluded those with known congestive heart failure or other chronic lung conditions likely to cause excessive B-lines on LUS. We used a two-sided exact hypothesis test for binomial random variables. We measured LUS diagnostic performance using computed tomography as the gold standard.

Results: We reviewed 77 charts; 49 met inclusion criteria. Vital signs were normal in 30/49 patients; 10 (33%) of these patients had LUS consistent with viral pneumonitis. We rejected the null hypothesis (p-value <0.001). The treating physicians’ interpretations of their own point-of-care LUS had a sensitivity of 100% (95% confidence interval (CI), 74%, 100%), specificity 88% (95% CI, 47%, 100%), likelihood ratio (LR) positive of 5.8 (95% CI, 1.3, 25), and LR negative of 0.05 (95% CI, 0.03, 0.71) when compared to CT findings.

Conclusion: LUS had a meaningful detection rate for pneumonitis in symptomatic ED patients with normal vital signs who were being evaluated for COVID-19. We recommend at least LUS be used in addition to polymerase chain reaction testing when evaluating symptomatic ED patients for COVID-19.

  • 2 supplemental PDFs
  • 1 supplemental file

Update on Neurological Manifestations of SARS-CoV-2

Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, the source of COVID-19, causes numerous clinical findings including respiratory and gastrointestinal findings. Evidence is now growing for increasing neurological symptoms. This is thought to be from direct in-situ effects in the olfactory bulb caused by the virus. Angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 receptors likely serve as a key receptor for cell entry for most coronaviridae as they are present in multiple organ tissues in the body, notably neurons, and in type 2 alveolar cells in the lung. Hematogenous spread to the nervous system has been described, with viral transmission along neuronal synapses in a retrograde fashion. The penetration of the virus to the central nervous system (CNS) allows for the resulting intracranial cytokine storm, which can result in a myriad of CNS complications. There have been reported cases of associated cerebrovascular accidents with large vessel occlusions, cerebral venous sinus thrombosis, posterior reversible encephalopathy syndrome, meningoencephalitis, acute necrotizing encephalopathy, epilepsy, and myasthenia gravis. Peripheral nervous system effects such as hyposmia, hypogeusia, ophthalmoparesis, Guillain-Barré syndrome, and motor peripheral neuropathy have also been reported. In this review, we update the clinical manifestations of COVID-19 concentrating on the neurological associations that have been described, including broad ranges in both central and peripheral nervous systems.

CEdRIC: Strategy for Patient Education During COVID-19 Triage

The current coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic is forcing healthcare systems around the word to organise care differently than before. Prompt detection and effective triage and isolation of potentially infected and infectious patients are essential to preventing unnecessary community exposure. Since there are as yet no medications to treat or vaccines to prevent COVID-19, prevention focuses on self-management strategies, creating patient education challenges for physicians doing triage and testing. This article describes a five-step process for effectively educating, at discharge, patients who are suspected of being infectious and instructed to self-isolate at home. We are proposing the CEdRIC strategy as a practical, straightforward protocol that meets patient education and health psychology science requirements. The main goal of the CEdRIC process is to give patients self-management strategies aimed at preventing complications and disease transmission. The COVID-19 pandemic is challenging clinicians to rapidly teach their patients self-management strategies while managing the inherent pressures of this emergency situation. The CEdRIC strategy is designed to deliver key information to patients and standardize the discharge process. CEdRIC is currently being tested at triage centres in Belgium. Formal assessment of its implementation is still needed.

Preparedness, Adaptation, and Innovation: Approach to the COVID-19 Pandemic at a Decentralized, Quaternary Care Department of Emergency Medicine

The COVID-19 pandemic has required healthcare systems to be creative and adaptable in response to an unprecedented crisis. Below we describe how we prepared for and adapted to this pandemic at our decentralized, quaternary-care department of emergency medicine, with specific recommendations from our experience. We discuss our longstanding history of institutional preparedness, as well as adaptations in triage, staffing, workflow, and communications. We also discuss innovation through working with industry on solutions in personal protective equipment, as well as telemedicine and methods for improving morale. These preparedness and response solutions and recommendations may be useful moving forward as we transition between response and recovery in this pandemic as well as future pandemics.

CODE BLUE-19: A Proposed Protocol to Mitigate COVID-19 Transmission in the Emergency Department when Receiving Out-of-hospital Cardiac Arrest Patients

Resuscitation of cardiac arrest in coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) patients places the healthcare staff at higher risk of exposure to severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). Unfortunately, COVID-19 status is unknown in most patients presenting to the emergency department (ED), and therefore special attention must be given to protect the healthcare staff along with the other patients. This is particularly true for out-of-hospital cardiac arrest patients who are transported to the ED. Based on the current data available on transmissibility of SARS-CoV-2, we have proposed a protocolized approach to out-of-hospital cardiac arrests to limit risk of transmission.

Effect of an Aerosol Box on Intubation in Simulated Emergency Department Airways: A Randomized Crossover Study

Introduction: The use of transparent plastic aerosol boxes as protective barriers during endotracheal intubation has been advocated during the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 pandemic. There is evidence of worldwide distribution of such devices, but some experts have warned of possible negative impacts of their use. The objective of this study was to measure the effect of an aerosol box on intubation performance across a variety of simulated difficult airway scenarios in the emergency department.

Methods: This was a randomized, crossover design study. Participants were randomized to intubate one of five airway scenarios with and without an aerosol box in place, with randomization of intubation sequence. The primary outcome was time to intubation. Secondary outcomes included number of intubation attempts, Cormack-Lehane view, percent of glottic opening, and resident physician perception of intubation difficulty.

Results: Forty-eight residents performed 96 intubations. Time to intubation was significantly longer with box use than without (mean 17 seconds [range 6-68 seconds] vs mean 10 seconds [range 5-40 seconds], p <0.001). Participants perceived intubation as being significantly more difficult with the aerosol box. There were no significant differences in the number of attempts or quality of view obtained.

Conclusion: Use of an aerosol box during difficult endotracheal intubation increases the time to intubation and perceived difficulty across a range of simulated ED patients.

  • 2 supplemental files

Physician Wellness During a Pandemic

Introduction: We are currently in the midst of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Research into previous infectious disease outbreaks has shown that healthcare workers are at increased risk for burnout during these dire times, with those on the front lines at greatest risk. The purpose of this prospective study was to determine the effect that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the wellness of emergency physicians (EP).

Methods: A survey was sent to 137 EPs in a multi-hospital network in eastern Pennsylvania. We compared 10 primary and two supplemental questions based on how the physicians had been feeling in the prior 2-3 weeks (COVID-19 period) to the same questions based on how they were feeling in the prior 4-6 months (pre-COVID-19 period).

Results: We received 55 responses to the survey (40.1% response rate). The study found that during the pandemic, EPs felt less in control (p-value = 0.001); felt decreased happiness while at work (p-value 0.001); had more trouble falling asleep (p-value = 0.001); had an increased sense of dread when thinking of work needing to be done (p-value = 0.04); felt more stress on days not at work (p-value <0.0001); and were more concerned about their own health (p-value <0.0001) and the health of their families and loved ones (p-value <0.0001).

Conclusion: This study showed a statistically significant decrease in EP wellness during the COVID-19 pandemic when compared to the pre-pandemic period. We need to be aware of evidence-based recommendations to help mitigate the risks and prevent physician burnout.

A Video-based Debriefing Program to Support Emergency Medicine Clinician Well-being During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Introduction: Emergency clinicians on the frontline of the coronavirus pandemic experience a range of emotions including anxiety, fear, and grief. Debriefing can help clinicians process these emotions, but the coronavirus pandemic makes it difficult to create a physically and psychologically safe space in the emergency department (ED) to perform this intervention. In response, we piloted a video-based debriefing program to support emergency clinician well-being. We report the details of our program and results of our evaluation of its acceptability and perceived value to emergency clinicians during the pandemic.

Methods: ED attending physicians, resident physicians, and non-physician practitioners (NPP) at our quaternary-care academic medical center were invited to participate in role-based, weekly one-hour facilitated debriefings using Zoom. ED attendings with experience in debriefing led each session and used an explorative approach that focused on empathy and normalizing reactions. At the end of the pilot, we distributed to participants an anonymous 10-point survey that included multiple-answer questions and visual analogue scales.

Results: We completed 18 debriefings with 68 unique participants (29 attending physicians, 6 resident physicians, and 33 NPPs. A total of 76% of participants responded to our survey and 77% of respondents participated in at least two debriefings. Emergency clinicians reported that the most common reasons to participate in the debriefings were “to enhance my sense of community and connection” (81%) followed by “to support colleagues” (75%). Debriefing with members of the same role group (92%) and the Zoom platform (81%) were considered to be helpful aspects of the debriefing structure. Although emergency clinicians found these sessions to be useful (78.8 +/- 17.6) interquartile range: 73-89), NPPs were less comfortable speaking up (58.5 +/- 23.6) than attending physicians (77.8 +/- 25.0) (p = < 0.008).

Conclusion: Emergency clinicians participating in a video-based debriefing program during the coronavirus pandemic found it to be an acceptable and useful approach to support emotional well-being. Our program provided participants with a platform to support each other and maintain a sense of community and connection. Other EDs should consider implementing a debriefing program to safeguard the emotional well-being of their emergency clinician workforce.

  • 2 supplemental files

Method to Reduce Aerosolized Contaminant Concentration Exposure to Healthcare Workers During the COVID-19 Pandemic when Temporary Isolation Systems Are Required

The COVID-19 pandemic has strained the healthcare system. It has led to the use of temporary isolation systems and less-then-optimum patient placement configurations because of inadequate number of isolation rooms, both of which can compromise provider safety. Three key elements require special attention to reduce the maximum and average aerosolized contaminant concentration exposure to a healthcare worker in any isolation system: flow rate; air changes per hour; and patient placement. This is important because concentration exposures of aerosolized contaminants to healthcare workers in hospitals using temporary isolation systems can reach levels 21-30 times greater than a properly engineered negative pressure isolation room. A working knowledge of these three elements can help create a safer environment for healthcare workers when isolation rooms are not available.

  • 1 supplemental PDF

In-situ Simulation Use for Rapid Implementation and Process Improvement of COVID-19 Airway Management

Introduction: The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic presents unique challenges to frontline healthcare workers. In order to safely care for patients new processes, such as a plan for the airway management of a patient with COVID-19, must be implemented and disseminated in a rapid fashion. The use of in-situ simulation has been used to assist in latent problem identification as part of a Plan-Do-Study-Act cycle. Additionally, simulation is an effective means for training teams to perform high-risk procedures before engaging in the actual procedure. This educational advance seeks to use and study in-situ simulation as a means to rapidly implement a process for airway management in patients with COVID-19.

Methods: Using an airway algorithm developed by the authors, we designed an in-situ simulation scenario to train physicians, nurses, and respiratory therapists in best practices for airway management of patients with COVID-19. Physician participants were surveyed using a five-point Likert scale with regard to their comfort level with various aspects of the airway algorithm both before and after the simulation in a retrospective fashion. Additionally, we obtained feedback from all participants and used it to refine the airway algorithm.

Results: Over a two-week period, 93 physicians participated in the simulation. We received 81 responses to the survey (87%), which showed that the average level of comfort with personal protective equipment procedures increased significantly from 2.94 (95% confidence interval, 2.71-3.17) to 4.36 (4.24-4.48), a difference of 1.42 (1.20-1.63, p < 0.001). There was a significant increase in average comfort level in understanding the physician role with scores increasing from 3.51 (3.26-3.77) to 4.55 (2.71-3.17), a difference of 1.04 (0.82-1.25, p < 0.001). There was also increased comfort in performing procedural tasks such as intubation, from 3.08 (2.80-3.35) to 4.38 (4.23-4.52) after the simulation, a difference of 1.30 points (1.06-1.54, p < 0.001). Feedback from the participants also led to refinement of the airway algorithm.

Conclusion: We successfully implemented a new airway management guideline for patients with suspected COVID-19. In-situ simulation is an essential tool for both dissemination and onboarding, as well as process improvement, in the context of an epidemic or pandemic.

  • 1 supplemental PDF

Critical Care

Minimizing Pulse Check Duration Through Educational Video Review

Introduction: The American Heart Association Guidelines for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) recommend pulse checks of less than 10 seconds. We assessed the effect of video review-based educational feedback on pulse check duration with and without point-of-care ultrasound (POCUS).

Methods: Cameras recorded cases of CPR in the emergency department (ED). Investigators reviewed resuscitation videos for ultrasound use during pulse check, pulse check duration, and compression-fraction ratio. Investigators reviewed health records for patient outcomes. Providers received written feedback regarding pulse check duration and compression-fraction ratio. Researchers reviewed selected videos in multidisciplinary grand round presentations, with research team members facilitating discussion. These presentations highlighted strategies that include the following: limit on pulse check duration; emphasis on compressions; and use of “record, then review” method for pulse checks with POCUS. The primary endpoint was pulse check duration with and without POCUS.

Results: Over 19 months, investigators reviewed 70 resuscitations with a total of 325 pulse checks. The mean pulse check duration was 11.5 ± 8.8 seconds (n = 224) and 13.8 ± 8.6 seconds (n = 101) without and with POCUS, respectively. POCUS pulse checks were significantly longer than those without POCUS (P = 0.001). Mean pulse check duration per three-month block decreased statistically significantly from study onset to the final study period (from 17.2 to 10 seconds [P<0.0001]) overall; decreased from 16.6 to 10.5 seconds (P<0.0001) without POCUS; and with POCUS from 19.8 to 9.88 seconds (P<0.0001) with POCUS. Pulse check times decreased significantly over the study period of educational interventions. The strongest effect size was found in POCUS pulse check duration (P = -0.3640, P = 0.002).

Conclusion: Consistent with previous studies, POCUS prolonged pulse checks. Educational interventions were associated with significantly decreased overall pulse-check duration, with an enhanced effect on pulse checks involving POCUS. Performance feedback and video review-based education can improve CPR by increasing chest compression-fraction ratio.

Emergency Department Administration

Patient Age, Race and Emergency Department Treatment Area Associated with “Topbox” Press Ganey Scores

Introduction: Hospitals commonly use Press Ganey (PG) patient satisfaction surveys forbenchmarking physician performance. PG scores range from 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest,which is known as the “topbox” score. Our objective was to identify patient and physician factorsassociated with topbox PG scores in the emergency department (ED).

Methods: We looked at PG surveys from January 2015–December 2017 at an academic, urbanhospital with 78,000 ED visits each year. Outcomes were topbox scores for the questions:“Likelihood of your recommending our ED to others”; and “Courtesy of the doctor.” We analyzedtopbox scores using generalized estimating equation models clustered by physician and adjustedfor patient and physician factors. Patient factors included age, gender, race, ethnicity, and ED areawhere patient was seen. The ED has four areas based on patient acuity: emergent; urgent; vertical(urgent but able to sit in a recliner rather than a gurney); and fast track (non-urgent). Physicianfactors included age, gender, race, ethnicity, and number of years at current institution.

Results: We analyzed a total of 3,038 surveys. For “Likelihood of your recommending our ED toothers,” topbox scores were more likely with increasing patient age (odds ratio [OR] 1.07; 95%confidence interval [CI], 1.03-1.12); less likely among female compared to male patients (OR 0.81;95% CI, 0.70-0.93); less likely among Asian compared to White patients (OR 0.71; 95% CI, 0.60-0.83); and less likely in the urgent (OR 0.71; 95% CI, 0.54-0.93) and vertical areas (OR 0.71; 95% CI0.53-0.95) compared to fast track. For “Courtesy of the doctor,” topbox scores were more likely withincreasing patient age (OR 1.1; CI, 1.06-1.14); less likely among Asian (OR 0.70; 95% CI, 0.58-0.84),Black (OR 0.66; 95% CI ,0.45-0.96), and Hispanic patients (OR 0.68; 95% CI ,0.55-0.83) compared toWhite patients; and less likely in urgent area (OR 0.69; 95% CI ,0.50-0.95) compared to fast track.

Conclusion: Increasing patient age was associated with increased likelihood of topbox scores,while Asian patients, and urgent and vertical areas had decreased likelihood of topbox scores. Weencourage hospitals that use PG topbox scores as financial incentives to understand the contributionof non-service factors to these scores.

International Medicine

How the COVID-19 Epidemic Affected Prehospital Emergency Medical Services in Tehran, Iran

Introduction: Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has substantially impacted the healthcare delivery system in Tehran, Iran. The country’s first confirmed positive test for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) was on February 18, 2020. Since then, the number of cases has steadily increased in Iran and worldwide. Emergency medical services (EMS) quickly adapted its operations to accommodate a greater number of patients, and it worked to decrease the risk of COVID-19 spread among EMS personnel, given the disease’s high transmissibility.

Methods: We evaluated the chief complaint as well as the pattern and number of EMS calls and dispatches during the 28-day intervals before and after the February 18, 2020, COVID-19 outbreak in Iran.

Results: EMS calls increased from 355,241 in the pre-outbreak period to 1,589,346 in the post-outbreak period, a 347% increase (p<0.001). EMS dispatches rose more modestly from 82,282 to 99,926, a 21% increase (p<0.001). The average time on telephone hold decreased from 10.6 ± 12.7 seconds pre-outbreak to 9.8 ± 11.8 seconds post-outbreak, a 7% decrease (p<0.001). The average length of call also decreased from 1.32 ± 1.42 minutes pre-outbreak to 1.06 ± 1.28 minutes post-outbreak, a 20% decrease (p<0.001). The highest number of daily dispatches occurred during the second and third weeks of the four-week post-outbreak period, peaking at 4557 dispatches/day. After the first reported case of SARS-CoV-2, there were significant increases in chief complaints of fever (211% increase, p<0.001) and respiratory symptoms (245% increase, p<0.001).

Conclusion: The number of EMS calls and dispatches in Tehran increased 347% and 20%, respectively, after the outbreak of COVID-19. Despite this, the time on hold for EMS response decreased. The Tehran EMS system accomplished this by increasing personnel hours, expanding call-center resources, and implementing COVID-19-specific training.

Patients Presenting with Bull-related Injuries to a Southern Indian Emergency Department

Introduction: Bull-related injuries are commonly observed in rural areas of India as result of the animal’s use in sporting events as well as for agricultural purposes. These patients need early resuscitation due to complications from severe injuries. Previous work examining the epidemiology of bull-related injuries is limited, with most studies focusing on injuries in Spain and Latin America.  There is scant literature examining the prevalence of such injuries in India. The objective of this study was to evaluate the demographic and clinical characteristics of bull-related injuries at a hospital in Tamil Nadu, India.

Methods: This was a prospective, observational study of patients who presented to an emergency department (ED) in Madurai, India, with a reported history of bull-related injuries between June 2017 and March 2019. We recorded information about patient demographics, location of injury, disposition, initial Injury Severity Score (ISS), and transport time.

Results: Our sample included a total of 42 patients. Almost a third of patients who presented were between the ages of 20-30 years (31%, n = 13), and most were male (86%, n = 36). Approximately 59% of patients (n = 25) had provoked injuries, occurring as a result of active participation during sporting activities. Injuries to the trunk were most common (55%, n = 23), followed by injuries to the perineum (19%, n = 19). The majority of patients (59.5%) had penetrating injuries (n = 25), The mean ISS was 10.1 (standard deviation 6.3).  Five (12%) patients had a complication after injury including intra-abdominal abscess formation, peritonitis, and sepsis. Two patients died as a result of septicemia from peritonitis.

Conclusion: Bull-related injuries may result in significant morbidity and mortality. Education of the population about the dangers of bull injuries from sporting events and the need for early transportation to the ED have the potential for significant reduction in morbidity and mortality.

Emergency Medicine Challenges in Ecuador

Introduction: Emergency medicine (EM) was recognized as a specialty in Ecuador in 1993.Currently, there are two four-year EM residency programs and an estimated 300 residency-trainedemergency physicians countrywide. This study describes the current challenges in EM in Ecuador.

Methods: We conducted 25 semi-structured, in-person interviews with residency-trained emergencyphysicians, general practitioners, public health specialists, prehospital personnel, and physiciansfrom other specialties. The interviewer asked about challenges in the areas of emergency care,working conditions of emergency physicians, EM residency education, EM leadership, andprehospital care. We analyzed data for challenges and registered the number of interviewees whomentioned each challenge.

Results: Interviewees worked in the three largest cities in the country: Quito (60%); Guayaquil(20%); and Cuenca (20%). Interviewees included 16 (64%) residency-trained emergency physicians;six (24%) residency-trained physicians from other specialties working in or closely associatedwith the emergency department (ED); one (4%) general practitioner working in the ED; one (4%)specialist in disasters; and one (4%) paramedic. Shortage of medical supplies, need for bettermedico-legal protection, lack of EM residencies outside of Quito, and desire for more bedsideteaching were the challenges mentioned with the highest frequency (each 44%). The next mostfrequently mentioned challenges (each 38%) were the need for better access to ultrasoundequipment and the low presence of EM outside the capital city. Other challenges mentioned includedthe low demand for emergency physicians in private institutions, the lack of differential pay for nightand weekends, need for more training in administration and leadership, need for a more effective EMnational society, and lack of resources and experience in EM research.

Conclusion: Emergency medicine has a three-decade history in Ecuador, reaching importantmilestones such as the establishment of two EM residencies and a national EM society. Challengesremain in medical care, working conditions, residency education, leadership, and prehospitalcare. Stronger collaboration and advocacy among emergency physicians can help strengthen thespecialty and improve emergency care.

Medical Decision Making

Review of the Basics of Cognitive Error in Emergency Medicine and Updates: Still No Easy Answers

Emergency physicians (EP) make clinical decisions multiple times daily. In some instances, medical errors occur due to flaws in the complex process of clinical reasoning and decision-making. Cognitive error can be difficult to identify and is equally difficult to prevent. To reduce the risk of patient harm resulting from errors in critical thinking, it has been proposed that we train physicians to understand and maintain awareness of their thought process, to identify error-prone clinical situations, to recognize predictable vulnerabilities in thinking, and to employ strategies to avert cognitive errors. The first step to this approach is to gain an understanding of how physicians make decisions and what conditions may predispose to faulty decision-making. We review the dual-process theory, which offers a framework to understand both intuitive and analytical reasoning, and to identify the necessary conditions to support optimal cognitive processing. We also discuss systematic deviations from normative reasoning known as cognitive biases, which were first described in cognitive psychology and have been identified as a contributing factor to errors in medicine. Training physicians in common biases and strategies to mitigate their effect is known as debiasing. A variety of debiasing techniques have been proposed for use by clinicians. We sought to review the current evidence supporting the effectiveness of these strategies in the clinical setting. This discussion of improving clinical reasoning is relevant to medical educators as well as practicing EPs engaged in continuing medical education.

Violence Assessment and Prevention

A Case for Risk Stratification in Survivors of Firearm and Interpersonal Violence in the Urban Environment

The emergency department (ED) serves as the main source of care for patients who are victimsof interpersonal violence. As a result, emergency physicians across the nation are at the forefrontof delivering care and determining dispositions for many at-risk patients in a dynamic healthcareenvironment. In the majority of cases, survivors of interpersonal violence are treated and dischargedbased on the physical implications of the injury without consideration for risk of reinjury and thestructural drivers that may be at play. Some exceptions may exist at institutions with hospital-basedviolence intervention programs (HVIPs). At these institutions, disposition decisions often includeconsideration of a patient’s risk for repeat exposure to violence. Ideally, HVIP services would beavailable to all survivors of interpersonal violence, but a variety of current constraints limit availability.Here we offer a scoping review of HVIPs and our perspective on how risk-stratification could helpemergency physicians determine which patients will benefit most from HVIP services and potentiallyreduce re-injury secondary to interpersonal violence.

Population Health Research Design

Consolidating Emergency Department-specific Data to Enable Linkage with Large Administrative Datasets

Introduction: The American Hospital Association (AHA) has hospital-level data, while the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has patient-level data. Merging these with other distinct databases would permit analyses of hospital-based specialties, units, or departments, and patient outcomes. One distinct database is the National Emergency Department Inventory (NEDI), which contains information about all EDs in the United States. However, a challenge with merging these databases is that NEDI lists all US EDs individually, while the AHA and CMS group some EDs by hospital network. Consolidating data for this merge may be preferential to excluding grouped EDs. Our objectives were to consolidate ED data to enable linkage with administrative datasets and to determine the effect of excluding grouped EDs on ED-level summary results.

Methods: Using the 2014 NEDI-USA database, we surveyed all New England EDs. We individually matched NEDI EDs with corresponding EDs in the AHA and CMS. A “group match” was assigned when more than one NEDI ED was matched to a single AHA or CMS facility identification number. Within each group, we consolidated individual ED data to create a single observation based on sums or weighted averages of responses as appropriate.

Results: Of the 195 EDs in New England, 169 (87%) completed the NEDI survey. Among these, 130 (77%) EDs were individually listed in AHA and CMS, while 39 were part of groups consisting of 2-3 EDs but represented by one facility ID. Compared to the individually listed EDs, the 39 EDs included in a “group match” had a larger number of annual visits and beds, were more likely to be freestanding, and were less likely to be rural (all P<0.05). Two grouped EDs were excluded because the listed ED did not respond to the NEDI survey; the remaining 37 EDs were consolidated into 19 observations. Thus, the consolidated dataset contained 149 observations representing 171 EDs; this consolidated dataset yielded summary results that were similar to those of the 169 responding EDs.

Conclusion: Excluding grouped EDs would have resulted in a non-representative dataset. The original vs consolidated NEDI datasets yielded similar results and enabled linkage with large administrative datasets. This approach presents a novel opportunity to use characteristics of hospital-based specialties, units, and departments in studies of patient-level outcomes, to advance health services research.

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United States’ Emergency Department Visits for Fever by Young Children 2007-2017

Introduction: Our goal in this study was to estimate rates of emergency department (ED) visits for fever by children <2 years of age, and evaluate frequencies of testing and treatment during these visits.

Methods: We performed a cross-sectional study of ED encounters from 2007-2017 using the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, a cross-sectional, multi-stage probability sample survey of visits to nonfederal United States EDs. We included encounters with a visit reason of “fever” or recorded fever in the ED. We report demographics and management strategies in two groups: infants ≤90 days in age; and children 91 days to <2 years old. For patients 91 days to <2 years, we compared testing and treatment strategies between general and pediatric EDs using chi-squared tests.

Results: Of 1.5 billion encounters over 11 years, 2.1% (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.9-2.2%) were by children <2 years old with fever. Two million encounters (95% CI, 1.7-2.4 million) were by infants ≤90 days, and 28.4 million (95% CI, 25.5-31.4 million) were by children 91 days to <2 years. Among infants ≤90 days, 27.6% (95% CI, 21.1-34.1%) had blood and 21.3% (95% CI, 13.6-29.1%) had urine cultures; 26.8% (95% CI, 20.9-32.7%) were given antibiotics, and 21.1% (95% CI, 15.3-26.9%) were admitted or transferred. Among patients 91 days to <2 years in age, 6.8% (95% CI, 5.8-7.8%) had blood and 7.7% (95% CI 6.1-9.4%) had urine cultures; 40.5% (95% CI, 40.5-40.5%) were given antibiotics, and 4.4% (95% CI, 3.5-5.3%) were admitted or transferred. Patients 91 days to <2 years who were evaluated in general EDs had higher rates of radiography (27.1% vs 15.2%; P<0.01) and antibiotic utilization (42.3% vs 34.2%; P<0.01), but lower rates of urine culture testing (6.4% vs 11.6%, p = 0.03), compared with patients evaluated in pediatric EDs.

Conclusion: Approximately 180,000 patients ≤90 days old and 2.6 million patients 91 days to <2 years in age with fever present to US EDs annually. Given existing guidelines, blood and urine culture performance was low for infants ≤90 days old. For children 91 days to <2 years, rates of radiography and antibiotic use were higher in general EDs compared to pediatric EDs. These findings suggest opportunities to improve care among febrile young children in the ED.

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Health Equity

Prevalence of Emergency Department Social Risk and Social Needs

Introduction: Social risks, or adverse social conditions associated with poor health, are prevalent in emergency department (ED) patients, but little is known about how the prevalence of social risk compares to a patient’s reported social need, which incorporates patient preference for intervention. The goal of this study was to describe the relationship between social risk and social need, and identify factors associated with differential responses to social risk and social need questions.

Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional study with 48 hours of time-shift sampling in a large urban ED. Consenting patients completed a demographic questionnaire and assessments of social risk and social need. We applied descriptive statistics to the prevalence of social risk and social need, and multivariable logistic regression to assess factors associated with social risk, social need, or both.

Results: Of the 269 participants, 100 (37%) reported social risk, 83 (31%) reported social need, and 169 (63%) reported neither social risk nor social need. Although social risk and social need were significantly associated (p < 0.01), they incompletely overlapped. Over 50% in each category screened positive in more than one domain (eg, housing instability, food insecurity). In multivariable models, those with higher education (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] 0.44 [95% confidence interval {CI}, 0.24-0.80]) and private insurance (aOR 0.50 [95% CI, 0.29-0.88]) were less likely to report social risk compared to those with lower education and state/public insurance, respectively. Spanish-speakers (aOR 4.07 [95% CI, 1.17-14.10]) and non-Hispanic Black patients (aOR 5.00 [95% CI, 1.91-13.12]) were more likely to report social need, while those with private insurance were less likely to report social need (private vs state/public: aOR 0.13 [95% CI, 0.07-0.26]).

Conclusion: Approximately one-third of patients in a large, urban ED screened positive for at least one social risk or social need, with over half in each category reporting risk/need across multiple domains. Different demographic variables were associated with social risk vs social need, suggesting that individuals with social risks differ from those with social needs, and that screening programs should consider including both assessments.


User Characteristics of a Low-Acuity Emergency Department Alternative for Low-Income Patients

Introduction: Emergency department (ED) use for healthcare that can be treated elsewhere is costly to the healthcare system. However, convenience settings such as urgent care centers (UCC) are generally inaccessible to low-income patients. Housing an UCC within a federally qualified health center (FQHC UCC) provides an accessible convenience setting for low-income patients. In 2014 a FQHC UCC opened two blocks from an ED in the same health system. Our goal was to compare characteristics, access to care, and utilization preferences for FQHC UCC and low-acuity ED patients through retrospective chart review and prospective surveying.

Methods: We completed a retrospective chart review of all patients from March 1, 2018–March 1, 2019, and compared characteristics of low-acuity ED patients (N = 3,911) and FQHC UCC patients (N = 12,571). We also surveyed FQHC UCC patients (N = 201) and low-acuity ED patients (N = 198) from January–July 2019.

Results: Half of FQHC UCC patients had private insurance. Of ED patients, 29% were aware of the FQHC UCC. Both groups had similar rates of primary care providers. The most common reason for choosing the ED was perceived severity, and for choosing a FQHC UCC was speed.

Conclusion: These findings show similarities and differences between these two patient populations. Future research is needed to determine utilization patterns and in-depth reasons behind them. Interventions that help patients decide where to go for low-acuity care may create more utilization efficiency.

Health Outcomes

Point-of-care Ultrasound in Morbidity and Mortality Cases in Emergency Medicine: Who Benefits the Most?

Introduction: Point-of-care ultrasound (POCUS) is an essential tool in the timely evaluation of an undifferentiated patient in the emergency department (ED). Our primary objective in this study was to determine the perceived impact of POCUS in high-risk cases presented at emergency medicine (EM) morbidity and mortality (M&M) conferences. Additionally, we sought to identify in which types of patients POCUS might be most useful, and which POCUS applications were considered to be highest yield.

Methods: This was a retrospective survey of cases submitted to M&M at an EM residency program that spans two academic EDs, over one academic year. Postgraduate year 4 (PGY) residents who presented M&M cases at departmental sessions were surveyed on perceived impacts of POCUS on individual patient outcomes. We evaluated POCUS use and indications while the POCUS was used.

Results: Over the 12-month period, we reviewed 667 cases from 18 M&M sessions by 15 PGY-4 residents and a supervising EM attending physician who chairs the M&M committee. Of these cases, 75 were selected by the M&M committee for review and presentation. POCUS was used in 27% (20/75) of the cases and not used in 73% (55/75). In cases where POCUS was not used, retrospective review determined that if POCUS had been used it would have “likely prevented the M&M” in 45% (25/55). Of these 25 cases, the majority of POCUS applications that could have helped were cardiac (32%, 8/25) and lung (32%, 8/25) ultrasound. POCUS was felt to have greatest potential in identifying missed diagnoses (92%, 23/25), and decreasing the time to diagnosis (92%, 23/25). Patients with cardiopulmonary chief complaints and abnormal vital signs were most likely to benefit. There were seven cases (35%, 7/20, 95% CI 15-59%) in which POCUS was performed and thought to have possibly adversely affected the outcome of the M&M.

Conclusion: POCUS was felt to have the potential to reduce or prevent M&M in 45% of cases in which it was not used. Cardiac and lung POCUS were among the most useful applications, especially in patients with cardiopulmonary complaints and in those with abnormal vital signs.

Plastic Surgery Complications: A Review for Emergency Clinicians

The number of aesthetic surgical procedures performed in the United States is increasing rapidly. Over 1.5 million surgical procedures and over three million nonsurgical procedures were performed in 2015 alone. Of these, the most common procedures included surgeries of the breast and abdominal wall, specifically implants, liposuction, and subcutaneous injections. Emergency clinicians may be tasked with the management of postoperative complications of cosmetic surgeries including postoperative infections, thromboembolic events, skin necrosis, hemorrhage, pulmonary edema, fat embolism syndrome, bowel cavity perforation, intra-abdominal injury, local seroma formation, and local anesthetic systemic toxicity. This review provides several guiding principles for management of acute complications. Understanding these complications and approach to their management is essential to optimizing patient care.

Prevalence of Cigarette Smoking Among Adult Emergency Department Patients in Canada

Introduction: Tobacco smoking is a priority public health concern, and a leading cause of deathand disability globally. While the daily smoking prevalence in Canada is approximately 9.7%,the proportion of smokers amongst emergency department (ED) patients has been found to besignificantly higher. The purpose of this survey study was to determine the smoking prevalence ofadult ED patients presenting to three urban Canadian hospitals, and to determine whether there wasan increased prevalence compared to the general public.

Methods: A verbal questionnaire was administered to adult patients aged 18 years and olderpresenting to Royal University Hospital, St. Paul’s Hospital, and Saskatoon City Hospital inSaskatoon, Saskatchewan. We compared patients’ smoking habits to Fagerström tobaccodependence scores, readiness to quit smoking, chief complaints, Canadian Triage Acuity Scalescores, and willingness to partake in ED-specific cessation interventions.

Results: A total of 1190 eligible patients were approached, and 1078 completed the questionnaire.Adult Saskatoon ED patients demonstrated a cigarette smoking prevalence of 19.6%, which issignificantly higher than the adult Saskatchewan public at 14.65% (P<0.0001). Out of the smokingcohort, 51.4% indicated they wanted to quit smoking and would partake in ED-specific cessationcounselling, if available. Of the proposed interventions, ED cessation counselling was most popularamongst patients (62.4%), followed by receiving a pamphlet (56.2%), and referral to a smokers’ quitline (49.5%).

Conclusion: The higher smoking prevalence demonstrated amongst ED patients highlights theneed for a targeted intervention program that is feasible for the fast-paced ED environment. TrainingED staff to conduct brief cessation counselling and referral to community supports for follow-up couldprovide an initial point of contact for smokers not otherwise receiving cessation assistance.

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Prompt Outpatient Care For Older Adults Discharged From The Emergency Department Reduces Recidivism

Introduction: Older adults present unique challenges to both emergency clinicians and health systems. These challenges are especially evident with respect to discharge after an emergency department (ED) visit as older adults are at risk for short-term, negative outcomes including repeat ED visits. The aim of this study was to evaluate characteristics and risk factors associated with repeat ED utilization by older adults.

Methods: ED visits among participants in the Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS) study between 2003-2016 were examined using linked Medicare claims data to identify such visits and resulting disposition. Multilevel proportional hazards models examined associations of age, comorbidity status, race, gender, Medicaid dual eligibility status, social support characteristics (living alone or caregiver support), and use of ambulatory primary and subspecialty care with repeat ED utilization.

Results: Older adults discharged from the ED seen by a primary care provider (hazard ratio [HR] = 0.93, confidence interval [CI], 0.87-0.98, p = 0.01) or subspecialist (HR = 0.91, CI 0.86-0.97, P <0.01) after the ED visit were less likely to return to the ED within 30 days compared to those who did not have such post-ED ambulatory visits. Additionally, comorbidity (HR =1.14, 95% CI ,1.13-1.16, P <0.01) and dual eligibility for Medicare and Medicaid (HR = 1.34, 95% CI, 1.20-1.50, p<0.01) were associated with return to the ED within 30 days. Those who were older (HR = 1.10, 95% CI, 1.05-1.15), had more comorbidities (HR = 1.17, 95% CI 1.15-1.18), Black (HR = 1.23, 95% CI, 1.14-1.33,P <0.01), and dually eligible (HR =1.23, 95% CI, 1.14-1.33, P <0.01) were more likely to return within 31-90 days after their initial presentation. The association of outpatient visits with repeat ED visits was no longer seen beyond 30 days. Patients without a caregiver or who lived alone were no more likely to return to the ED in the time periods evaluated in our study.

Conclusion: Both primary care and subspecialty care visits among older adults who are seen in the ED and discharged are associated with less frequent repeat ED visits within 30 days.

Reducing Emergency Department Transfers from Skilled Nursing Facilities Through an Emergency Physician Telemedicine Service

Introduction: Transfers of skilled nursing facility (SNF) residents to emergency departments (ED) are linked to morbidity, mortality and significant cost, especially when transfers result in hospital admissions. This study investigated an alternative approach for emergency care delivery comprised of SNF-based telemedicine services provided by emergency physicians (EP). We compared this on-site emergency care option to traditional ED-based care, evaluating hospital admission rates following care by an EP.

Methods: We conducted a retrospective, observational study of SNF residents who underwent emergency evaluation between January 1, 2017–January 1, 2018. The intervention group was comprised of residents at six urban SNFs in the Northeastern United States, who received an on-demand telemedicine service provided by an EP. The comparison group consisted of residents of SNFs that did not offer on-demand services and were transferred via ambulance to the ED. Using electronic health record data from both the telemedicine and ambulance transfers, our primary outcome was the odds ratio (OR) of a hospital admission. We also conducted a subanalysis examining the same OR for the three most common chronic disease-related presentations found among the telemedicine study population.

Results: A total of 4,606 patients were evaluated in both the SNF-based intervention and ED-based comparison groups (n=2,311 for SNF based group and 2,295 controls). Patients who received the SNF-based acute care were less likely to be admitted to the hospital compared to patients who were transferred to the ED in our primary and subgroup analyses. Overall, only 27% of the intervention group was transported to the ED for additional care and presumed admission, whereas 71% of the comparison group was admitted (OR for admission = 0.15 [9% confidence interval, 0.13-0.17]).

Conclusion: The use of an EP-staffed telemedicine service provided to SNF residents was associated with a significantly lower rate of hospital admissions compared to the usual ED-based care for a similarly aged population of SNF residents. Providing SNF-based care by EPs could decrease costs associated with hospital-based care and risks associated with hospitalization, including cognitive and functional decline, nosocomial infections, and falls.

Predictors of Mortality in Elderly and Very Elderly Emergency Patients with Sepsis: A Retrospective Study

Introduction: Elderly patients are at increased risk of developing sepsis and its adverse outcomes. Diagnosing and prognosing sepsis is particularly challenging in older patients, especially early at emergency department (ED) arrival. We aimed to study and compare the characteristics of elderly and very elderly ED patients with sepsis and determine baseline factors associated with in-hospital mortality. We also compared prognostic accuracy of the criteria for systemic inflammatory response syndrome, quick sequential organ failure assessment (qSOFA), and the National Early Warning Score in predicting mortality.

Methods: We conducted a retrospective study at the ED of Siriraj Hospital Mahidol University in Bangkok, Thailand. Patients over 18 years old who were diagnosed and treated for sepsis in the ED between August 2018–July 2019 were included. We categorized patients into non-elderly (aged <65 years), elderly (aged 65-79 years), and the very elderly (aged >80 years) groups. The primary outcome was in-hospital mortality. Baseline demographics, comorbidities, source and etiology of sepsis, including physiologic variables, were compared and analyzed to identify predictors of mortality. We calculated and compared the area under the receiver operator characteristics curves (AUROC) of early warning scores.

Results: Of 1616 ED patients with sepsis, 668 (41.3%) were very elderly, 512 (31.7%) were elderly, and 436 (27.0%) were non-elderly. The mortality rate was highest in the very elderly, followed by the elderly and the non-elderly groups (32.3%, 25.8%, and 24.8%, respectively). Factors associated with mortality in the very elderly included the following: age; do-not-resuscitate (DNR) status; history of recent admission <3 months; respiratory tract infection; systolic blood pressure <100 millimeters mercury (SBP<100); oxygen saturation; and Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) score. Factors associated with mortality in the elderly were DNR status, body temperature, and GCS score. qSOFA had the highest AUROC in predicting in-hospital mortality in both very elderly and elderly patients (AUROC 0.60 [95% confidence interval {CI}, 0.55-0.65] and 0.55 [95% CI, 0.49-0.61, respectively]).

Conclusion: The mortality rate in the very elderly was higher than in the younger populations. Age, DNR status, recent admission, respiratory tract infection, SBP<100, oxygen saturation. and GCS score independently predicted hospital mortality in very elderly patients. The qSOFA score had better but only moderate accuracy in predicting mortality in elderly and very elderly sepsis patients.

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The Association of Sleep Hygiene and Drowsiness with Adverse Driving Events in Emergency Medicine Residents

Introduction: Prior research shows that physicians in training are at risk for drowsy driving following their clinical duties, which may put them in danger of experiencing adverse driving events. This study explores the relationship between sleepiness, overall sleep hygiene, level of training, and adverse driving events following an overnight shift in emergency medicine (EM) residents.

Methods: Throughout the 2018-2019 academic year, 50 EM residents from postgraduate years 1–4 completed self-administered surveys regarding their sleepiness before and after their drive home following an overnight shift, any adverse driving events that occurred during their drive home, and their overall sleep hygiene.

Results: Fifty out of a possible 57 residents completed the survey for a response rate of 87.7%. Sleepiness was significantly associated with adverse driving events (beta = 0.31; P < .001). Residents with high sleepiness levels reported significantly more adverse driving events. Residents reported significantly higher sleepiness levels after completing their drive home (mean = 7.04, standard deviation [SD] = 1.41) compared to sleepiness levels before driving home (mean = 5.58, SD = 1.81). Residency training level was significantly associated with adverse driving events (beta = -0.59, P < .01). Senior residents reported significantly fewer adverse driving events compared to junior residents.

Conclusion: Emergency physicians in training are at risk for drowsy driving-related motor vehicle crashes following overnight work shifts. Trainees of all levels underestimated their true degree of sleepiness prior to initiating their drive home, while junior residents were at higher risk for adverse driving events.

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A Cross-Sectional Survey of Former International Emergency Medicine Fellows From 2010-1019

Introduction: International emergency medicine is a new subspecialty within emergency medicine. International emergency medicine (EM) fellowships have been in existence for more than 10 years, but data is limited on the experiences of the fellows. Our goal in this study was to understand the fellowship experience.

Methods: The study employed a cross-sectional survey in which participants were asked about their demographics, fellowship program, and advanced degree. Participants consisted of former fellows who completed the fellowship between 2010-19. The survey consisted of both closed and open-ended questions to allow for further explanation of former fellows’ experience. Descriptive analysis was conducted on the quantitative survey data while content analysis was conducted to ascertain salient themes from the open-ended questions.

Results: We contacted 71 former fellows, of whom 40 started and 36 completed surveys, for a 51% response rate (55.6% women). Two-year fellowships predominated, with 69.4% of respondents. Prior to fellowship, a subset of fellows spoke the native languages of their service sites: French, Spanish, Haitian Creole, Mandarin, or Kiswahili. Half the respondents spent 26-50% of their fellowship in field work, with 83.3% of institutions providing direct funding for this component. Many respondents stated a need for further institutional support (money or infrastructure) for fieldwork and mentoring. Non-governmental organizations comprised 29.7% of respondents’ work partners, while 28.6% were with academic institutions in country, focused mostly on education, health systems development, and research. The vast majority (92%) of respondents continued working in global EM, with the majority based in American academic institutions. Those who did not cited finances and lack of institutional support as main reasons.

Conclusion: This study describes the fellow experience in international EM. The majority of fellows completed a two-year fellowship with 26-50% of their time spent in fieldwork with 83.3% of institutions providing funding. The challenges in pursuing a long-term career in global EM included the cost of international work, inadequate mentorship, and departmental funding.

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Evolving from Morbidity and Mortality Conference to a Case-based Error Reduction Conference: An Evidence-based Guide to Best Practices from the Council of Emergency Medicine Residency Directors

Morbidity and mortality conferences are common among emergency medicine residency programs and are an important part of quality improvement initiatives. Here we review the key components of running an effective morbidity and mortality conference with a focus on goals and objectives, case identification and selection, session structure, and case presentation.

Research Publishing

A Social Network Analysis of the Western Journal of Emergency Medicine Special Issue in Educational Research and Practice

Introduction: Scholarship and academic networking are essential for promotion and productivity. To develop education scholarship, the Council of Emergency Medicine Directors (CORD) and Clerkship Directors of Emergency Medicine (CDEM) created an annual Special Issue in Educational Research and Practice of the Western Journal of Emergency Medicine. The objective of this study was to evaluate the network created by the special Issue, and explore changes within the network over time.

Methods: Researchers used bibliometric data from Web of Science to create a social network analysis of institutions publishing in the first four years of the special issue using UCINET software. We analyzed whole-network and node-level metrics to describe variations and changes within the network.

Results: One hundred and three (56%) Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education-accredited emergency medicine programs were involved in 136 articles. The majority of institutions published in one or two issues. Nearly 25% published in three or four issues. The network analysis demonstrated that the mean number of connections per institution increased over the four years (mean of 5.34; standard deviation [SD] 1.27). Mean degree centralization was low at 0.28 (SD 0.05). Network density was low (mean of 0.09; SD 0.01) with little change across four issues. Five institutions scored consistently high in betweenness centrality, demonstrating a role as connectors between institutions within the network and the potential to connect new members to the network.

Conclusion: Network-wide metrics describe a consistently low-density network with decreasing degree centralization over four years. A small number of institutions within the network were persistently key players in the network. These data indicate that, aside from core institutions that publish together, the network is not widely connected. There is evidence that new institutions are coming into the network, but they are not necessarily connected to the core publishing groups. There may be opportunities to intentionally increase connections across the network and create new connections between traditionally high-performing institutions and newer members of the network. Through informal discussions with authors from high-performing institutions, there are specific behaviors that departments may use to promote education scholarship and forge these new connections.



Characterization of Regional Poison Center Utilization Through Geospatial Mapping

Background: Penetrance is the annual rate of human exposure calls per 1000 persons, a measurethat historically describes poison center (PC) utilization. Penetrance varies by sociodemographiccharacteristics and by geography. Our goal in this study was to characterize the geospatial distributionof PC calls and describe the contribution of geospatial mapping to the understanding of PC utilization.

Methods: This was a single-center, retrospective study of closed, human, non-healthcare facilityexposure calls to a regional PC over a five-year period. Exposure substance, gender, age, andzone improvement plan (ZIP) Code were geocoded to 2010 US Census data (household income,educational attainment, age, primary language) and spatially apportioned to US census tracts, andthen analyzed with linear regression. Penetrance was geospatially mapped and qualitatively analyzed.

Results: From a total of 304,458 exposure calls during the study period, we identified 168,630non-healthcare exposure calls. Of those records, 159,794 included ZIP Codes. After exclusions,we analyzed 156,805 records. Penetrance ranged from 0.081 - 38.47 calls/1000 population/year(median 5.74 calls/1000 persons/year). Regression revealed positive associations between >eighthgradeeducational attainment (β = 5.05, p = 0.008), non-Hispanic Black (β = 1.18, p = 0.032) andAmerican Indian (β = 3.10, p = 0.000) populations, suggesting that regions with higher proportionsof these groups would display greater PC penetrance. Variability explained by regression modellingwas low (R2 = 0.054), as anticipated. Geospatial mapping identified previously undocumentedpenetrance variability that was not evident in regression modeling.

Conclusion: PC calls vary substantially across sociodemographic strata. Higher proportionsof non-Hispanic Black or American Indian residents and >eighth-grade educational attainmentwere associated with higher PC call penetrance. Geospatial mapping identified novel variationsin penetrance that were not identified by regression modelling. Coupled with sociodemographiccorrelates, geospatial mapping may reveal disparities in PC access, identifying communities atwhich PC resources may be appropriately directed. Although the use of penetrance to describe PCutilization has fallen away, it may yet provide an important measure of disparity in healthcare accesswhen coupled with geospatial mapping.

Behavioral Health

Beyond Buprenorphine: Models of Follow-up Care for Patients with Opioid Use Disorder in the ED

Recent evidence shows that emergency physicians (EP) can help patients obtain evidence-based treatment for Opioid Use Disorder by starting medication for addiction treatment (MAT) directly in the Emergency Department (ED). Many EDs struggle to provide options for maintenance treatment once patients are discharged from the ED. Health systems around the country are in need of a care delivery structure to link ED patients with OUD to care following initiation of buprenorphine. This paper reviews the three most common approaches to form effective partnerships between EDs and primary care/addiction medicine services: the Project Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services and Referral to Treatment (ASSERT) model, Bridge model, and ED-Bridge model.

The ASSERT Model is characterized by peer educators or community workers in the ED directly referring patients suffering from OUD in the ED to local addiction treatment services. The Bridge model encourages prescribing physicians in an ED to screen patients for OUD, provide a short-term prescription for buprenorphine, and then refer the patient directly to an outpatient Bridge Clinic that is co-located in the same hospital but is a separate from the ED. This Bridge Clinic is staffed by addiction trained physicians and mid-level clinicians. The ED-Bridge model employs physicians trained in both emergency medicine and addiction medicine to serve within the ED as well as in the follow up addiction clinic.

Distinct from the Bridge Clinic model above, EPs in the ED-Bridge model are both able to screen at-risk patients in the ED, often starting treatment, and to longitudinally follow patients in a regularly scheduled addiction clinic. This paper provides examples of these three models as well as implementation and logistical details to support a health system to better address OUD in their communities.

Emergency Medical Services

Applying a Model of Teamwork Processes to Emergency Medical Services

Introduction: Effective teamwork has been shown to optimize patient safety. However, researchcentered on the critical inputs, processes, and outcomes of team effectiveness in emergency medicalservices (EMS) has only recently begun to emerge. We conducted a theory-driven qualitative studyof teamwork processes—the interdependent actions that convert inputs to outputs—by frontline EMSpersonnel in order to provide a model for use in EMS education and research.

Methods: We purposively sampled participants from an EMS agency in Houston, TX. Full-timeemployees with a valid emergency medical technician license were eligible. Using semi-structuredformat, we queried respondents on task/team functions and enablers/obstacles of teamwork in EMS.Phone interviews were recorded and transcribed. Using a thematic analytic approach, we combinedcodes into candidate themes through an iterative process. Analytic memos during coding and analysisidentified potential themes, which were reviewed/refined and then compared against a model ofteamwork processes in emergency medicine.

Results: We reached saturation once 32 respondents completed interviews. Among participants, 30(94%) were male; the median experience was 15 years. The data demonstrated general support forthe framework. Teamwork processes were clustered into four domains: planning; action; reflection;and interpersonal processes. Additionally, we identified six emergent concepts during open coding:leadership; crew familiarity; team cohesion; interpersonal trust; shared mental models; and proceduralknowledge.

Conclusion: In this thematic analysis, we outlined a new framework of EMS teamwork processes todescribe the procedures that EMS operators employ to convert individual inputs into team performanceoutputs. The revised framework may be useful in both EMS education and research to empiricallyevaluate the key planning, action, reflection, and interpersonal processes that are critical to teamworkeffectiveness in EMS.

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Emergency Department Operations

Accuracy of Hemolyzed Potassium Levels in the Emergency Department

Introduction: In the emergency department (ED), pseudohyperkalemia from hemolysis mayindirectly harm patients by exposing them to increased length of stay, cost, and repeat blooddraws. The need to repeat hemolyzed potassium specimens in low-risk patients has not beenwell studied. Our objective was to determine the rate of true hyperkalemia among low-risk, adultED patients with hemolyzed potassium specimens.

Methods: We conducted this prospective observational study at two large (129,000 annualvisits) academic EDs in the mid-Atlantic. Data were collected from June 2017–November2017 as baseline data for planned departmental quality improvement and again from June2018–November 2018. Inclusion criteria were an initial basic metabolic panel in the ED with ahemolyzed potassium level > 5.1 milliequivalents per liter that was repeated within 12 hours, age≥18, and bicarbonate (HCO3) > 20. Exclusion criteria were age > 65, glomerular filtration rate(GFR) < 60, creatine phosphokinase > 500, hematologic malignancy, taking potassium-sparing orangiotensin-acting agents, or treatment with potassium-lowering agents (albuterol, insulin, HCO3,sodium polystyrene sulfonate, or potassium-excreting diuretic) prior to the repeat lab draw.

Results: Of 399 encounters with a hemolyzed, elevated potassium level in patients with GFR≥ 60 and age > 18 that were repeated, we excluded 333 patients for age > 64, lab repeat > 12hours, invalid identifiers, potassium-elevating or lowering medicines or hematologic malignancies.This left 66 encounters for review. There were no instances of hyperkalemia on the repeated,non-hemolyzed potassium levels, correlating to a true positive rate of 0% (95% confidenceinterval 0-6%). Median patient age was 46 (interquartile range [IQR] 34 - 56) years. Medianhemolyzed potassium level was 5.8 (IQR 5.6 - 6.15) millimoles per liter (mmol/L), and medianrepeated potassium level was 3.9 (IQR 3.6 - 4.3) mmol/L. Median time between lab draws was145 (IQR 87 - 262) minutes.

Conclusion: Of 66 patients who met our criteria, all had repeat non-hemolyzed potassiumswithin normal limits. The median of 145 minutes between lab draws suggests an opportunity todecrease the length of stay for these patients. Our results suggest that in adult patients < 65 withnormal renal function, no hematologic malignancy, and not on a potassium-elevating medication,there is little to no risk of true hyperkalemia. Further studies should be done with a larger patientpopulation and multicenter trials.

Erratum (Staff Only)

This Article Corrects: “Identifying Patients at Greatest Risk of Mortality due to COVID-19: A New England Perspective”

Introduction: Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has spread rapidly since December 2019, resulting in a pandemic that has, as of May 24, 2020, yielded over 5.3 million confirmed cases and over 340,000 deaths.1 As businesses move to safely reopen and frontline healthcare workers (HCW) continue to face this crisis, it is essential that health officials know who in the population is at the greatest risk of mortality if hospitalized and, therefore, has the greatest need to protect themselves from being infected. We examined the factors that increase the risk of mortality among hospitalized COVID-19 patients.

Methods: This was a retrospective cohort study including confirmed COVID-19 patients admitted to the four Trinity Health of New England hospitals (THONE) in Connecticut and Massachusetts who either died or were discharged between March 1–April 22, 2020. Demographics, comorbidities, and outcomes of care were extracted from the electronic health record. A model of in-hospital mortality was made using a generalized linear model with binomial distribution and log link.

Results: The analysis included 346 patients: 229 discharged and 117 deceased. The likelihood of in-hospital mortality was increased for patients who were aged 60 or older (relative risk [RR] = 2.873; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.733-4.764; p = <0.001), had diabetes (RR = 1.432; 95% CI,1.068-1.921; p = 0.016), or had chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) (RR = 1.410; 95% CI, 1.058-1.878; p = 0.019). Hyperlipidemia had a protective effect, reducing the likelihood of mortality (RR = 0.745; 95% CI, 0.568-0.975; p = 0.032). Sensitivity and specificity of the model were 51.4% and 88.4%, respectively.

Conclusions: Being age 60 or older or having a history of diabetes or COPD are the most useful risk factors associated with mortality in hospitalized COVID-19 patients. As states ease stay-at-home orders, risk factors of severe disease can be used to identify those more likely to have worse outcomes if infected and hospitalized and, therefore, who in particular should continue to follow public health guidelines for avoiding infection: stay home if possible; practice physical distancing; and wear a facemask.