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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Volume 22, Issue 4, 2021

Critical Care

Utilization of Point-of-care Echocardiography in Cardiac Arrest: A Cross-sectional Pilot Study

Introduction: Point-of-care (POC) echocardiography (echo) is a useful adjunct in the management of cardiac arrest. However, the practice pattern of POC echo utilization during management of cardiac arrest cases among emergency physicians (EP) is unclear. In this pilot study we aimed to characterize the utilization of POC echo and the potential barriers to its use in the management of cardiac arrest among EPs.

Methods: This was a cross-sectional survey of attending EPs who completed an electronic questionnaire composed of demographic variables (age, gender, year of residency graduation, practice setting, and ultrasound training) and POC echo utilization questions. The first question queried participants regarding frequency of POC echo use during the management of cardiac arrest. Branching logic then presented participants with a series of subsequent questions regarding utilization and barriers to use based on their responses. 

Results: A total of 155 EPs participated in the survey, with a median age of 39 years (interquartile range 31-67). Regarding POC echo utilization, participants responded that they always (66%), sometimes (30%), or never (4.5%) use POC echo during cardiac arrest cases. Among participants who never use POC echo, 86% reported a lack of training, competency, or credentialing as a barrier to use. Among participants who either never or sometimes use POC echo, the leading barrier to use (58%) reported was a need for improved competency. Utilization was not different among participants of different age groups (P = 0.229) or different residency graduation dates (P = 0.229). POC echo utilization was higher among participants who received ultrasound training during residency (P = 0.006) or had completed ultrasound fellowship training (P <0.001) but did not differ by gender (P = 0.232), or practice setting (0.231).

Conclusion: Only a small minority of EPs never use point-of-care echocardiography during the management of cardiac arrest. Lack of training, competency, or credentialing is reported as the leading barrier to use among those who do not use POC echo during cardiac arrest cases. Participants who do not always use ultrasound are less likely to have received ultrasound training during residency.

  • 2 supplemental PDFs

Effectiveness of Mechanical Chest Compression Devices over Manual Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation: A Systematic Review with Meta-analysis and Trial Sequential Analysis

Introduction: Our goal was to systematically review contemporary literature comparing the relative effectiveness of two mechanical compression devices (LUCAS and AutoPulse) to manual compression for achieving return of spontaneous circulation (ROSC) in patients undergoing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) after an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA). 

Methods: We searched medical databases systematically for randomized controlled trials (RCT) and observational studies published between January 1, 2000–October 1, 2020 that compared mechanical chest compression (using any device) with manual chest compression following OHCA. We only included studies in the English language that reported ROSC outcomes in adult patients in non-trauma settings to conduct random-effects metanalysis and trial sequence analysis (TSA). Multivariate meta-regression was performed using preselected covariates to account for heterogeneity. We assessed for risk of biases in randomization, allocation sequence concealment, blinding, incomplete outcome data, and selective outcome reporting.

Results: A total of 15 studies (n = 18474), including six RCTs, two cluster RCTs, five retrospective case-control, and two phased prospective cohort studies, were pooled for analysis. The pooled estimates’ summary effect did not indicate a significant difference (Mantel-Haenszel odds ratio = 1.16, 95% confidence interval, 0.97 to 1.39, P = 0.11, I2 = 0.83) between mechanical and manual compressions during CPR for ROSC. The TSA showed firm evidence supporting the lack of improvement in ROSC using mechanical compression devices. The Z-curves successfully crossed the TSA futility boundary for ROSC, indicating sufficient evidence to draw firm conclusions regarding these outcomes. Multivariate meta-regression demonstrated that 100% of the between-study variation could be explained by differences in average age, the proportion of females, cardiac arrests with shockable rhythms, witnessed cardiac arrest, bystander CPR, and the average time for emergency medical services (EMS) arrival in the study samples, with the latter three attaining statistical significance.

Conclusion: Mechanical compression devices for resuscitation in cardiac arrests are not associated with improved rates of ROSC. Their use may be more beneficial in non-ideal situations such as lack of bystander CPR, unwitnessed arrest, and delayed EMS response times. Studies done to date have enough power to render further studies on this comparison futile.

  • 1 supplemental ZIP

Randomised Controlled Trial Assessing Head Down Deep Breathing Method Versus Modified Valsalva Manoeuvre for Treatment of Supraventricular Tachycardia in the Emergency Department

Introduction: Supraventricular tachycardia (SVT) is commonly encountered in the emergency department (ED). Vagal manoeuvres are internationally recommended therapy in stable patients. The head down deep breathing (HDDB) technique was previously described as an acceptable vagal manoeuvre, but there are no studies comparing its efficacy to other vagal manoeuvres. Our objective in this study was to compare the rates of successful cardioversion with HDDB and the commonly practiced, modified Valsalva manoeuvre (VM). 

Methods: We conducted a randomised controlled trial at an acute hospital ED. Patients presenting with SVT were randomly assigned to HDDB or modified VM in a 1:1 ratio. A block randomisation sequence was prepared by an independent biostatistician, and then serially numbered, opaque, sealed envelopes were opened just before the intervention. Patients and caregivers were not blinded. Primary outcome was cardioversion to sinus rhythm. Secondary outcome(s) included adverse effects/complications of each technique. 

Results: A total of 41 patients were randomised between 1 August, 2018–1 February, 2020 (20 HDDB and 21 modified VM). Amongst the 41 patients, three spontaneously cardioverted to sinus rhythm before receiving the allocated treatment and were excluded. Cardioversion was achieved in six patients (31.6%) and seven patients (36.8%) with HDDB and modified VM, respectively (odds ratio1.26, 95% confidence interval, 0.33, 4.84, P = 0.733) . Seventeen (89.5%) patients in the HDDB group and 14 (73.7%) from the modified VM group did not encounter any adverse effects. No major adverse cardiovascular events were recorded.

Conclusion: Both the head down deep breathing technique and the modified Valsalva manoeuvre appear safe and effective in cardioverting patients with SVT in the ED.

Quality Improvement Initiative to Increase Rate of and Time to Post-intubation Analgesia in the Emergency Department

Introduction: Intubation and mechanical ventilation are common interventions performed in the emergency department (ED). These interventions cause pain and discomfort to patients and necessitate analgesia and sedation. Recent trends in the ED and intensive care unit focus on an analgesia-first model to improve patient outcomes. Initial data from our institution demonstrated an over-emphasis on sedation and an opportunity to improve analgesic administration. As a result of these findings, the ED undertook a quality improvement (QI) project aimed at improving analgesia administration and time to analgesia post-intubation.

Methods: We performed a pre-post study between January 2017–February 2019 in the ED. Patients over the age of 18 who were intubated using rapid sequence intubation (RSI) were included in the study. The primary outcome was the rate of analgesia administration; a secondary outcome was time to analgesia administration. Quality improvement interventions occurred in two phases: an initial intervention focused on nursing education only, and a subsequent intervention that included nursing and physician education.

Results: During the study period, 460 patients were intubated in the ED and met inclusion/exclusion criteria. Prior to the first intervention, the average rate of analgesia administration was 57.3%; after the second intervention, the rate was 94.9% (P <0.01). Prior to the first intervention, average time to analgesia administration was 36.0 minutes; after the second intervention, the time was 16.6 minutes (P value <0.01).

Conclusion: This QI intervention demonstrates the ability of education interventions alone to increase the rate of analgesia administration and reduce the time to analgesia in post-intubation patients.

Comparing Drugs for Out-of-hospital, Shock-refractory Cardiac Arrest: Systematic Review and Network Meta-analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials

Introduction: The benefit of medications used in out-of-hospital, shock-refractory cardiac arrest remains controversial. This study aims to compare the treatment outcomes of medications for out-of-hospital, shock-refractory ventricular fibrillation (VF) or pulseless ventricular tachycardia (pVT).

Methods: The inclusion criteria were randomized controlled trials of participants older than eight years old who had atraumatic, out-of-hospital, shock-refractory VF/pVT in which at least one studied group received a medication. We conducted a database search on October 28, 2019, that included PubMed, Scopus, Web of Science, CINAHL Complete, and Cochrane CENTRAL. Citations of relevant meta-analyses were also searched. We performed frequentist network meta-analysis (NMA) to combine the comparisons. The outcomes were analyzed by using odds ratios (OR) and compared to placebo. The primary outcome was survival to hospital discharge. The secondary outcomes included the return of spontaneous circulation (ROSC), survival to hospital admission, and the neurological outcome at discharge. We ranked all outcomes using surface under the cumulative ranking score.

Results: We included 18 studies with 6,582 participants. The NMA of 20 comparisons included 12 medications and placebo. Only norepinephrine showed a significant increase of ROSC (OR = 8.91, 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.88-42.29). Amiodarone significantly improved survival to hospital admission (OR = 1.53, 95% CI, 1.01-2.32). The ROSC and survival-to-hospital admission data were significantly heterogeneous with the I2 of 55.1% and 59.1%, respectively. This NMA satisfied the assumption of transitivity.

Conclusion: No medication was associated with improved survival to hospital discharge from out-of-hospital, shock-refractory cardiac arrest. For the secondary outcomes, norepinephrine was associated with improved ROSC and amiodarone was associated with an increased likelihood of survival to hospital admission in the NMA.

  • 1 supplemental ZIP

Emergency Department Operations

Reduction in Emergency Department Presentations in a Regional Health System during the Covid-19 Pandemic

Introduction: Nationally, there has been more than a 40% decrease in Emergency Department (ED) patient volume during the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) crisis, with reports of decreases in presentations of time-sensitive acute illnesses. We analyzed ED clinical presentations in a Maryland/District of Columbia regional hospital system while health mitigation measures were instituted.

Methods: We conducted a retrospective observational cohort study of all adult ED patients presenting to five Johns Hopkins Health System (JHHS) hospitals comparing visits from March 16 through May 15, in 2019 and 2020. We analyzed de-identified demographic information, clinical conditions, and ICD-10 diagnosis codes for year-over-year comparisons.

Results: There were 36.7% fewer JHHS ED visits in 2020 compared to 2019 (43,088 vs. 27,293, P<.001). Patients 75+ had the greatest decline in visits (-44.00%, P<.001). Both genders had significant decreases in volume (-41.9%, P<.001 females vs -30.6%, P<.001 males). Influenza like illness (ILI) symptoms increased year-over-year including fever (640 to 1253, 95.8%, P<.001) and shortness of breath (2504 to 2726, 8.9%, P=.002). ICD-10 diagnoses for a number of time-sensitive illnesses decreased including deep vein thrombosis (101 to 39, -61%, P<.001), acute myocardial infarction (157 to 105, -33%, P=.002), gastrointestinal bleeding (290 to 179, -38.3%, P<.001), and strokes (284 to 234, -17.6%, P=0.03).

Conclusion: ED visits declined significantly among JHHS hospitals despite offsetting increases in ILI complaints. Decreases in presentations of time-sensitive illnesses were of particular concern. Efforts should be taken to inform patients that EDs are safe, otherwise preventable morbidity and mortality will remain a problem.


The Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic on Emergency Department Visits at a Canadian Academic Tertiary Care Center

Introduction: Public health response to the coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has emphasized social distancing and stay-at-home policies. Reports of decreased emergency department (ED) visits in non-epicenters of the outbreak have raised concerns that patients with non-COVID-19 emergencies are delaying or avoiding seeking care. We evaluated the impact of the pandemic on ED visits at an academic tertiary care center.

Methods: We conducted an observational health records review between January 1–April 22, 2020, comparing characteristics of all ED visits between pre- and post-pandemic declaration by the World Health Organization. Measures included triage acuity, presenting complaints, final diagnoses, disposition, and mortality. We further examined three time-sensitive final diagnoses: stroke; sepsis; and acute coronary syndrome (ACS).

Results: In this analysis, we included 44,497 ED visits. Average daily ED visits declined from 458.1 to 289.0 patients/day (-36.9%). For the highest acuity triaged patients there was a drop of 1.1 patients/day (-24.9%). Daily ED visits related to respiratory complaints increased post-pandemic (+14.1%) while ED visits for many other complaints decreased, with the greatest decline in musculoskeletal (-52.5%) and trauma (-53.6%). On average there was a drop of 1.0 patient/day diagnosed with stroke (-17.6%); a drop of 1.6 patients/day diagnosed with ACS (-49.9%); and no change in patients diagnosed with sepsis (pre = 2.8 patients/day; post = 2.9 patients/day). 

Conclusion: Significant decline in ED visits was observed immediately following formal declaration of the COVID-19 pandemic, with potential for delayed/missed presentations of time-sensitive emergencies. Future research is needed to better examine long-term clinical outcomes of the decline in ED visits during pandemics.

Impact of Coronavirus Disease 2019 Pandemic on Crowding: A Call to Action for Effective Solutions to “Access Block”

Introduction: Healthcare patterns change during disease outbreaks and pandemics. Identification of modified patterns is important for future preparedness and response. Emergency department (ED) crowding can occur because of the volume of patients waiting to be seen, which results in delays in patient assessment or treatment and impediments to leaving the ED once treatment is complete. Therefore, ED crowding has become a growing problem worldwide and represents a serious barrier to healthcare operations.

Methods: This observational study was based on a retrospective review of the epidemiologic and clinical records of patients who presented to the Foundation IRCCS Policlinic San Matteo in Pavia, Italy, during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak (February 21–May 1, 2020, pandemic group). The methods involved an estimation of the changes in epidemiologic and clinical data from the annual baseline data after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Results: We identified reduced ED visits (180 per day in the control period vs 96 per day in the pandemic period; P < 0.001) during the COVID-19 pandemic, irrespective of age and gender, especially for low-acuity conditions. However, patients who did present to the ED were more likely to be hemodynamically unstable, exhibit abnormal vital signs, and more frequently required high-intensity care and hospitalization. During the pandemic, ED crowding dramatically increased primarily because of an increased number of visits by patients with high-acuity conditions, changes in patient management that prolonged length of stay, and increased rates of boarding, which led to the inability of patients to gain access to appropriate hospital beds within a reasonable amount of time. During the pandemic, all crowding output indices increased, especially the rates of boarding (36% vs 57%; P < 0.001), “access block” (24% vs 47%; P < 0.001), mean boarding time (640 vs 1,150 minutes [min]; P 0.001), mean “access block” time (718 vs 1,223 min; P < 0.001), and “access block” total time (650,379 vs 1,359,172 min; P < 0.001).

Conclusion: Crowding in the ED during the COVID-19 pandemic was due to the inability to access hospital beds. Therefore, solutions to this lack of access are required to prevent a recurrence of crowding due to a new viral wave or epidemic.

  • 1 supplemental ZIP

Impact of a Novel Emergency Department Forward Treatment Area During the New York City COVID-19 Surge

Introduction: Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused a disproportionate number of patients to seek emergency care at hospitals in New York City (NYC) during the initial crisis. Our urban emergency department (ED), a member of the NYC public hospital system had to process the increased volume while also differentiating our patients’ critical needs. We established a forward treatment area (FTA) directly in front of the ED to accomplish these goals from March 23–April 16, 2020.

Methods: A clinical greeter evaluated patients 18 years and older who presented to the walk-in entrance of the ED where they were screened for COVID-19-like complaints. If they did not appear critically ill and could ambulate they were directed into the FTA. Clinical and non-clinical staff worked in concert to register, evaluate, and process patients with either a disposition of directly home or into the ED for further care.

Results: A total of 634 patients were seen in the FTA from March 23–April 16, 2020. Of the 634 patients evaluated, 135 (21%) were referred into the ED for further evaluation, of whom 81 (12.7% of the total) were admitted. These patients were disproportionately male (91 into the ED and 63 admitted) and tended to have a higher heart rate (105.4 vs 93.7), a higher respiratory rate (21.5 vs 18.1), and lower oxygen saturation (93.9% vs 97.8%).

Conclusion: A forward treatment area is an effective method to rapidly screen and process an increased volume of COVID-19 patients when resources are limited. This treatment area helped decompress the ED by being rapidly deployable and effectively screening patients for safe discharge home.


  • 1 supplemental ZIP

Are Smaller Emergency Departments More Prone to Volume Variability?

Introduction: Daily patient volume in emergency departments (ED) varies considerably between days and sites. Although studies have attempted to define “high-volume” days, no standard definition exists. Furthermore, it is not clear whether the frequency of high-volume days, by any definition, is related to the size of an ED. We aimed to determine the correlation between ED size and the frequency of high-volume days for various volume thresholds, and to develop a measure to identify high-volume days.

Methods: We queried retrospective patient arrival data including 1,682,374 patient visits from 32 EDs in 12 states between July 1, 2018–June 30, 2019 and developed linear regression models to determine the correlation between ED size and volume variability. In addition, we performed a regression analysis and applied the Pearson correlation test to investigate the significance of median daily volumes with respect to the percent of days that crossed four volume thresholds ranging from 5–20% (in 5% increments) greater than each site’s median daily volume.

Results: We found a strong negative correlation between ED median daily volume and volume variability (R2 = 81.0%; P < 0.0001). In addition, the four regression models for the percent of days exceeding specified thresholds greater than their daily median volumes had R2 values of 49.4%, 61.2%, 70.0%, and 71.8%, respectively, all with P < 0.0001.

Conclusion: We sought to determine whether smaller EDs experience high-volume days more frequently than larger EDs. We found that high-volume days, when defined as days with a count of arrivals at or above certain median-based thresholds, are significantly more likely to occur in lower-volume EDs than in higher-volume EDs. To the extent that EDs allocate resources and plan to staff based on median volumes, these results suggest that smaller EDs are more likely to experience unpredictable, volume-based staffing challenges and operational costs. Given the lack of a standard measure to define a high-volume day in an ED, we recommend 10% above the median daily volume as a metric, for its relevance, generalizability across a broad range of EDs, and computational simplicity.

The Effects of Implementing a “Waterfall” Emergency Physician Attending Schedule

Introduction: Increases in emergency department (ED) crowding and boarding are a nationwide issue resulting in worsening patient care and throughput. To compensate, ED administrators often look to modifying staffing models to improve efficiencies. 

Methods: This study evaluates the impact of implementing the waterfall model of physician staffing on door-to-doctor time (DDOC), door-to-disposition time (DDIS), left without being seen (LWBS) rate, elopement rate, and the number of patient sign-outs. We examined 9,082 pre-intervention ED visits and 8,983 post-intervention ED visits. 

Results: The change in DDOC, LWBS rate, and elopement rate demonstrated statistically significant improvement from a mean of 65.1 to 35 minutes (P <0.001), 1.12% to 0.92% (P = 0.004), and 3.96% to 1.95% (P <0.001), respectively. The change in DDIS from 312 to 324.7 minutes was not statistically significant (P = 0.310). The number of patient sign-outs increased after the implementation of a waterfall schedule (P <0.001). 

Conclusion: Implementing a waterfall schedule improved DDOC time while decreasing the percentage of patients who LWBS and eloped. The DDIS and number of patient sign-outs appears to have increased post implementation, although this may have been confounded by the increase in patient volumes and ED boarding from the pre- to post-intervention period.

Health Equity

An Assessment of the Social Determinants of Health in an Urban Emergency Department

Introduction: Social determinants of health (SDOH) have significant impacts on patients who seek care in the emergency department (ED). We administered a social needs screening tool and needs assessment survey to assess SDOH and evaluate for trends in the population of patients visiting our ED.

Methods: A survey was distributed via convenience sampling to adult ED patients to capture self-reported demographic information and data about social needs. We categorized the questions related to SDOH based on the International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Revision, Clinical Modification coding format and created a composite variable called “SDOH Strata” based on the SDOH Index scores (0-5-low, 6-10-middle, or ≥11-high). We conducted bivariate analyses using the sociodemographic characteristics of the patients and their SDOH Strata using Fisher’s exact test. We then conducted multinomial logistic regression to examine the association between the patients’ sociodemographic characteristics and the SDOH Strata. 

Results: A total of 269 surveys were collected. We observed that Hispanic/Latino patients were more than two times as likely (odds ratio: 2.04, 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.12,-6.51) to be in the higher impact stratum than in the lower impact stratum. Those who were undocumented had 3.43 times increased adjusted odds (95% CI, 1.98, 9.53) of being in the higher than the lower impact stratum compared to US citizens. Additionally, people speaking Spanish as their primary language were 5.16 times as likely to be in the higher impact stratum compared to the reference (English-speaking and lower impact stratum). 

Conclusion: In our patient population, patients noted to have the highest impact burden of the SDOH were those who identified as Hispanic/Latino, Spanish-speaking, and undocumented immigrant status.

  • 1 supplemental ZIP

Perceptions of Emergency Care by Sexual and Gender Minorities in Colorado: Barriers, Quality, and Factors Affecting Identity Disclosure

Introduction: Expanding on data concerning emergency department (ED) use and avoidance by the sexual minority (those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, other [LGTBQ+]) and gender minority (those who identify as transgender, gender nonconforming, other) community may inform future ED LGTBQ+ training and clinical practice. Investigation objectives included characterizing rates of emergency care avoidance, identifying barriers to emergency care, and assessing emergency care quality and cultural competency for sexual and gender minorities.

Methods: In this population-based, cross-sectional needs assessment, sexual minority, gender minority, and/or cisgender heterosexual-identified participants were selected based on participants’ subscription to newsletters or social media accounts for One Colorado, an LGBTQ+ advocacy organization. Each participant completed a single digital survey that collected qualitative and quantitative data about ED perception, use, and demographics.

Results: A total of 477 LGBTQ+ or heterosexual-identified individuals (mean age = 44.3 (standard deviation [SD] = 16.7)) participated in the study. Lifetime emergency care avoidance rates for gender minorities were markedly increased (odds ratio [OR] 3.8, 95% confidence interval [CI], 2.2 – 6.6; P <.001), while avoidance rates for sexual minorities were similar to those of cisgender heterosexual respondents (17% vs 14%; P <.001). Gender minorities were more likely than sexual minorities to both avoid emergency care due to fear of discrimination (43% vs 15%; P =.002) and to have experienced discrimination during their last ED visit (OR 11, [95% CI, 5–24]; P <.001). No significant differences were observed between participants in care avoidance due to financial reasons or prior negative experiences. No cited ED factors that influenced identity disclosure decisions were distinctly predictive.

Conclusion: Gender minorities are more likely than sexual minorities and heterosexual cisgender individuals to report ED avoidance and discrimination at last ED visit. Future work characterizing deficits in LGBTQ+ ED care might reduce these avoidance and discrimination rates, enhancing the level of patient care provided to this population.

Cross-sectional Analysis of Food Insecurity and Frequent Emergency Department Use

Introduction: Emergency department (ED) patients have higher than average levels of food insecurity. We examined the association between multiple measures of food insecurity and frequent ED use in a random sample of ED patients.

Methods: We completed survey questionnaires with randomly sampled adult patients from an urban public hospital ED (n = 2,312). We assessed food insecurity using four questions from the United States Department of Agriculture Household Food Security Survey. The primary independent variable was any food insecurity, defined as an affirmative response to any of the four items. Frequent ED use was defined as self-report of ≥4 ED visits in the past year. We examined the relationship between patient food insecurity and frequent ED use using bivariate and multivariable analyses and examined possible mediation by anxiety/depression and overall health status.

Results: One-third (30.9%) of study participants reported frequent ED use, and half (50.8%) reported any food insecurity. Prevalence of food insecurity was higher among frequent vs. non-frequent ED users, 62.8% vs 45.4% (P <0.001). After controlling for potential confounders, food insecurity remained significantly associated with frequent ED use (adjusted odds ratio 1.48, 95% confidence interval, 1.20-1.83). This observed association was partially attenuated when anxiety/depression and overall health status were added to models.

Conclusion: The high observed prevalence of food insecurity suggests that efforts to improve care of ED patients should assess and address this need. Further research is needed to assess whether addressing food insecurity may play an important role in efforts to reduce frequent ED use for some patients.


The Role of Gender in Nurse-Resident Interactions: A Mixed-methods Study

Introduction: The role of gender in interprofessional interactions is poorly understood. This mixed-methods study explored perceptions of gender bias in interactions between emergency medicine (EM) residents and nurses.

Methods: We analyzed qualitative interviews and focus groups with residents and nurses from two hospitals for dominant themes. An electronic survey, developed through an inductive-deductive approach informed by qualitative data, was administered to EM residents and nurses. Quantitative analyses included descriptive statistics and between-group comparisons.

Results: Six nurses and 14 residents participated in interviews and focus groups. Key qualitative themes included gender differences in interprofessional communication, specific examples of, and responses to, gender bias. Female nurses perceived female residents as more approachable and collaborative than male residents, while female residents perceived nurses’ questions as doubting their clinical judgment. A total of 134 individuals (32%) completed the survey. Females more frequently perceived interprofessional gender bias (mean 30.9; 95% confidence interval {CI}, 25.6, 36.2; vs 17.6 [95% CI, 10.3, 24.9). Residents reported witnessing interprofessional gender bias more frequently than nurses (58.7 (95% CI, 48.6, 68.7 vs 23.9 (95% CI, 19.4, 28.4). Residents reported that gender bias affected job satisfaction (P = 0.002), patient care (P = 0.001), wellness (P = 0.003), burnout (P = 0.002), and self-doubt (P = 0.017) more frequently than nurses.

Conclusion: Perceived interprofessional gender bias negatively impacts personal wellbeing and workplace satisfaction, particularly among female residents. Key institutional stakeholders including residency, nursing, and hospital leadership should invest the resources necessary to develop and integrate evidence-based strategies to improve interprofessional relationships that will ultimately enhance residency training, work climate, and patient care.

  • 1 supplemental ZIP

A Novel, Low-cost, Low-fidelity Pericardiocentesis Teaching Model

Introduction: Pericardiocentesis is a high-risk/low-frequency procedure important to emergency medicine (EM). However, due to case rarity it is not often performed on a patient during residency training. Because the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic limited cadaver-based practice, we developed a novel, low-cost, low-fidelity pericardiocentesis model using three dimensional-printing technology to provide advances on prior home-made models. 

Methods: Residents watched a 20-minute video about performing a pericardiocentesis and practiced both a blind and ultrasound-guided technique. We assessed model fidelity, convenience, and perceived provider competence via post-workshop questionnaire. 

Results: A total of 24/26 (93%) individuals practicing on the ultrasound-guided model and 22/24 (92%) on the blind approach model agreed or strongly agreed that the models reasonably mimicked a pericardial effusion. 

Conclusion: Our low-cost, low-fidelity model is durable, mimics the clinical case, and is easy to use. It also addresses known limitations from prior low-fidelity models.

  • 1 supplemental ZIP

Descriptive Analysis of Components of Emergency Medicine Residency Program Websites

Introduction: Most emergency medicine (EM) applicants use the internet as a source of information when evaluating residency programs. Previous studies have analyzed the components of residency program websites; however, there is a paucity of information regarding EM program websites. The purpose of our study was to analyze information on EM residency program websites.

Methods: In April–May 2020, we evaluated 249 United States EM residency program websites for presence or absence of 38 items relevant to EM applicants. Descriptive statistics were performed, including means and standard deviations.

Results: Of the 249 EM websites evaluated, the websites contained a mean of 20 of 38 items (53%). Only 16 programs (6%) contained at least three-quarters of the items of interest, and no programs contained all 38 items. The general categories with the least amount of items were social media use (9%), research (46%), and lifestyle (49%), compared to the other general categories such as application process (58%), resident information (63%), general program information (67%), and facility information (69%). The items provided by programs most often included program description (98%), blocks and rotations (91%), and faculty listing (88%). The items provided least often included housing/neighborhood information (17%) and social media links (19%). 

Conclusion: Our comprehensive review of EM residency websites in the US revealed the absence of many variables on most programs’ websites. Use of this information to enhance accessibility of desired information stands to benefit both applicants and programs in the increasingly competitive specialty of EM.


Management of Minor Traumatic Brain Injury in an ED Observation Unit

Introduction: Traumatic intracranial hemorrhages (TIH) have traditionally been managed in the intensive care unit (ICU) setting with neurosurgery consultation and repeat head CT (HCT) for each patient. Recent publications indicate patients with small TIH and normal neurological examinations who are not on anticoagulation do not require ICU-level care, repeat HCT, or neurosurgical consultation. It has been suggested that these patients can be safely discharged home after a short period of observation in emergency department observation units (EDOU) provided their symptoms do not progress.

Methods: This study is a retrospective cross-sectional evaluation of an EDOU protocol for minor traumatic brain injury (mTBI). It was conducted at a Level I trauma center. The protocol was developed by emergency medicine, neurosurgery and trauma surgery and modeled after the Brain Injury Guidelines (BIG). All patients were managed by attendings in the ED with discretionary neurosurgery and trauma surgery consultations. Patients were eligible for the mTBI protocol if they met BIG 1 or BIG 2 criteria (no intoxication, no anticoagulation, normal neurological examination, no or non-displaced skull fracture, subdural or intraparenchymal hematoma up to 7 millimeters, trace to localized subarachnoid hemorrhage), and had no other injuries or medical co-morbidities requiring admission. Protocol in the EDOU included routine neurological checks, symptom management, and repeat HCT for progression of symptoms. The EDOU group was compared with historical controls admitted with primary diagnosis of TIH over the 12 months prior to the initiation of the mTBI protocols. Primary outcome was reduction in EDOU length of stay (LOS) as compared to inpatient LOS. Secondary outcomes included rates of neurosurgical consultation, repeat HCT, conversion to inpatient admission, and need for emergent neurosurgical intervention. 

Results: There were 169 patients placed on the mTBI protocol between September 1, 2016 and August 31, 2019. The control group consisted of 53 inpatients. Median LOS (interquartile range [IQR]) for EDOU patients was 24.8 (IQR: 18.8 – 29.9) hours compared with a median LOS for the comparison group of 60.2 (IQR: 45.1 – 85.0) hours (P < .001). In the EDOU group 47 (27.8%) patients got a repeat HCT compared with 40 (75.5%) inpatients, and 106 (62.7%) had a neurosurgical consultation compared with 53 (100%) inpatients. Subdural hematoma was the most common type of hemorrhage. It was found in 60 (35.5%) patients, and subarachnoid hemorrhage was found in 56 cases (33.1%). Eleven patients had multicompartment hemorrhage of various classifications. Twelve (7.1%) patients required hospital admission from the EDOU. None of the EDOU patients required emergent neurosurgical intervention. 

Conclusion: Patients with minor TIH can be managed in an EDOU using an mTBI protocol and discretionary neurosurgical consults and repeat HCT. This is associated with a significant reduction in length of stay.

The FAST VIP (First Aid for Severe Trauma “Virtual” in-Person) Educational Study

Introduction: Trauma is the leading cause of death for young Americans. Increased school violence, combined with an emphasis on early hemorrhage control, has boosted demand to treat injuries in schools. Meanwhile, coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has made educating the public about trauma more difficult. A federally funded high school education program in development, called First Aid for Severe Trauma™ (FAST™), will teach students to aid the severely injured. The program will be offered in instructor-led, web-based, and blended formats. We created a program to prepare high school teachers to become FAST instructors via “virtual” in-person (VIP) instruction. We used a webinar followed by VIP skills practice, using supplies shipped to participants’ homes. To our knowledge, no prior studies have evaluated this type of mass, widely distributed, VIP education.

Methods: This study is a prospective, single-arm, educational cohort study. We enrolled a convenience sample of all high school teachers attending FAST sessions at the Health Occupations Students of America–Future Health Professionals International Leadership Conference. Half of the participants were randomized to complete the Stop the Bleed Education Assessment Tool (SBEAT) prior to the webinar, and the other completed it afterward; SBEAT is a validated tool to measure learning of bleeding competencies. We then performed 76 VIP video-training sessions from June–August 2020. The FAST instructors assessed each participant’s ability to apply a tourniquet and direct pressure individually, then provided interactive group skills training, and finally re-evaluated each participant’s performance post-training.

Results: A total of 190 (96%) participants successfully applied a tourniquet after VIP training, compared to 136 (68%) prior to training (P < 0.001). Participants significantly improved their ability to apply direct pressure: 116 (56%) pre-assessment vs 204 (100%) post-assessment (P < 0.001). The mean score for the SBEAT increased significantly from pre-training to post-training: 2.09 with a standard deviation (SD) of 0.97 to 2.55 post-training with a SD of 0.72 (P < 0.001).

Conclusion: This study suggests that a webinar combined with VIP training is effective for teaching tourniquet and direct-pressure application skills, as well as life-threatening bleeding knowledge. VIP education may be useful for creating resuscitative medicine instructors from distributed locations, and to reach learners who cannot attend classroom-based instruction.

Research Publishing

A Review of COVID-19-Related Publications and Lag Times During the First Six Months of the Year 2020

Introduction: Considering the need for information regarding approaches to prevention and treatment of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), we sought to determine publication lag times of COVID-19-related original research articles published in top general medicine and emergency medicine (EM) journals. We further sought to characterize the types of COVID-19 publications within these journals.

Methods: We reviewed 125 top-ranked general medicine journals and 20 top-ranked EM-specific journals for COVID-19-related publications. We abstracted article titles and manuscript details for each COVID-19-related article published between January 1–June 30, 2020, and categorized articles as one of the following: original research; case report; review; or commentary. We abstracted data for preprint publications over the same time period and determined whether articles from the general medicine and EM journals had been previously published as preprint articles. Our primary outcomes were the following: 1) lag time (days) between global cumulative World Health Organization (WHO)-confirmed cases of COVID-19 and publications; 2) lag times between preprint article publication and peer-reviewed journal publication; and 3) lag times between submission and publication in peer-reviewed journals. Our secondary outcome was to characterize COVID-19-related publications.

Results: The first original research publications appeared in a general medicine journal 20 days and in an EM journal 58 days after the first WHO-confirmed case of COVID-19. We found median and mean lag times between preprint publications and journal publications of 32 days (19, 49) and 36 days (22) for general medicine journals, and 26 days (16, 36) and 25 days (13) for EM journals. Median and mean lag times between submission and publication were 30 days (19, 45) and 35 days (13) for general medicine journals, and 23 days (11, 39) and 27 days (19) for EM journals. Of 2530 general medicine journal articles and 351 EM journal articles, 28% and 23.6% were original research. We noted substantial closing of the preprint to peer-reviewed publication (160 days pre-pandemic) and peer-reviewed journal submission to publication (194 days pre-pandemic) lag times for COVID-19 manuscripts.

Conclusion: We found a rapid and robust response with shortened publication lag times to meet the need for the publication of original research and other vital medical information related to COVID-19 during the first six months of 2020.

Evaluating Reproducibility and Transparency in Emergency Medicine Publications

Introduction: We aimed to assess the reproducibility of empirical research by determining the availability of components required for replication of a study, including materials, raw data, analysis scripts, protocols, and preregistration.

Methods: We used the National Library of Medicine catalog to identify MEDLINE-indexed emergency medicine (EM) journals. Thirty journals met the inclusion criteria. From January 1, 2014–  December 31, 2018, 300 publications were randomly sampled using a PubMed search. Additionally, we included four high-impact general medicine journals, which added 106 publications. Two investigators were blinded for independent extraction. Extracted data included statements regarding the availability of materials, data, analysis scripts, protocols, and registration.

Results: After the search, we found 25,473 articles, from which we randomly selected 300. Of the 300, only 287 articles met the inclusion criteria. Additionally, we added 106 publications from high- impact journals of which 77 met the inclusion criteria. Together, 364 publications were included, of which 212 articles contained empirical data to analyze. Of the eligible empirical articles, 2.49%, (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.33% to 4.64%] provided a material statement, 9.91% (95% CI, 5.88% to 13.93%) provided a data statement, 0 provided access to analysis scripts, 25.94% (95% CI, 20.04% to 31.84%) linked the protocol, and 39.15% (95% CI, 32.58% to 45.72%) were preregistered.

Conclusion: Studies in EM lack indicators required for reproducibility. The majority of studies fail to report factors needed to reproduce research to ensure credibility. Thus, an intervention is required and can be achieved through the collaboration of researchers, peer reviewers, funding agencies, and journals.

  • 3 supplemental ZIPs

Emergency Medical Services

Clinical, Operational, and Socioeconomic Analysis of EMS Bypass of the Closest Facility for Pediatric Asthma Patients

Introduction: Pediatric hospital care is becoming increasingly regionalized, with fewer facilities providing inpatient care for common conditions such as asthma. That trend has major implications for emergency medical services (EMS) medical care and operations because EMS historically transports patients to the closest facility. This study describes EMS transport patterns of pediatric asthma patients in greater depth, including an analysis of facility bypass rates and the association of bypass with demographics and clinical outcomes.

Methods: This was a retrospective study of pediatric asthma patients ages 2-18 years transported by  Lee County, FL EMS between March 1, 2018 – December 31, 2019. A priori, we defined bypass as greater than five minutes extra transport time. We performed geospatial analysis and mapping of EMS pediatric asthma encounters. We used the Pediatric Destination Tree (PDTree) project’s tiered approach to characterize receiving hospital facility pediatric capability. We analyzed incidence and characteristics of bypass, and bypass and non-bypass patient characteristics including demographics, emergency department (ED) clinical outcomes, and socioeconomic disadvantage (SED). 

Results: From the study period, there were a total of 262 encounters meeting inclusion criteria, 254 (96.9%) of which could be geocoded to EMS incident and destination locations. Most encounters (72.8%) bypassed at least one facility, and the average number of facilities bypassed per encounter was 1.52. For all 185 bypass encounters, there was a median additional travel time of 13.5 minutes (interquartile range 7.5 – 17.5). Using the PDTree’s classification of pediatric capability of destination facilities, 172 of the 185 bypasses (93%) went to a Level I facility. Bypass incidence varied significantly by age, but not by minority status, asthma severity, or by the area deprivation index of the patient’s home address. Overall, the highest concentrations of EMS incidents tended to occur in areas of greater SED. With regard to ED outcomes, ED length of stay did not vary between bypass and non-bypass patients (P = 0.54), and neither did hospitalization (P = 0.80).

Conclusion: We found high rates of bypass for pediatric EMS encounters for asthma exacerbations, and that bypass frequency was significantly higher in younger age groups. With national trends pointing toward increasing pediatric healthcare regionalization, bypass has significant implications for EMS operations.

  • 2 supplemental ZIPs

Endemic Infections

Emergency Department-initiated High-flow Nasal Cannula for COVID-19 Respiratory Distress

Introduction: Patients with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) can develop rapidly progressive respiratory failure. Ventilation strategies during the COVID-19 pandemic seek to minimize patient mortality. In this study we examine associations between the availability of emergency department (ED)-initiated high-flow nasal cannula (HFNC) for patients presenting with COVID-19 respiratory distress and outcomes, including rates of endotracheal intubation (ETT), mortality, and hospital length of stay. 

Methods: We performed a retrospective, non-concurrent cohort study of patients with COVID-19 respiratory distress presenting to the ED who required HFNC or ETT in the ED or within 24 hours following ED departure. Comparisons were made between patients presenting before and after the introduction of an ED-HFNC protocol.

Results: Use of HFNC was associated with a reduced rate of ETT in the ED (46.4% vs 26.3%, P <0.001) and decreased the cumulative proportion of patients who required ETT within 24 hours of ED departure (85.7% vs 32.6%, P <0.001) or during their entire hospitalization (89.3% vs 48.4%, P <0.001). Using HFNC was also associated with a trend toward increased survival to hospital discharge; however, this was not statistically significant (50.0% vs 68.4%, P = 0.115). There was no impact on intensive care unit or hospital length of stay. Demographics, comorbidities, and illness severity were similar in both cohorts.

Conclusions: The institution of an ED-HFNC protocol for patients with COVID-19 respiratory distress was associated with reductions in the rate of ETT. Early initiation of HFNC is a promising strategy for avoiding ETT and improving outcomes in patients with COVID-19.

  • 2 supplemental ZIPs


Risk Factors of Fall-Related Emergency Department Visits by Fall Location of Older Adults in the US

Introduction: Prior evidence indicates that predictors of older adult falls vary by indoor-outdoor location of the falls. While a subset of United States’ studies reports this finding using primary data from a single geographic area, other secondary analyses of falls across the country do not distinguish between the two fall locations. Consequently, evidence at the national level on risk factors specific to indoor vs outdoor falls is lacking.

Methods: Using the 2017 Nationwide Emergency Department Sample (NEDS) data, we conducted a multivariable analysis of fall-related emergency department (ED) visits disaggregated by indoor vs outdoor fall locations of adults 65 years and older (N = 6,720,937) in the US. 

Results: Results are compatible with findings from previous primary studies. While women (relative risk [RR] = 1.43, 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.42-1.44) were more likely to report indoor falls, men were more likely to present with an outdoor fall. Visits for indoor falls were highest among those 85 years and older (RR = 2.35, 95% CI, 2.33-2.37) with outdoor fall visits highest among those 84 years and younger. Additionally, the probabilities associated with an indoor fall in the presence of chronic conditions were consistently much higher when compared to an outdoor fall. We also found that residence in metropolitan areas increased the likelihood of an indoor elderly fall compared to higher outdoor fall visits from seniors in non-core rural areas, but both indoor and outdoor fall visits were higher among older adults in higher income ZIP codes.

Conclusion: Our findings highlight the contrasting risk profile for elderly ED patients who report indoor vs outdoor falls when compared to the elderly reporting no falls. In conjunction, we highlight implications from three perspectives: a population health standpoint for EDs working with their primary care and community care colleagues; an ED administrative vantage point; and from an individual emergency clinician’s point of view.

Health Policy Analysis

Emergency Absentee Voting for Hospitalized Patients and Voting During COVID-19: A 50-State Study

Introduction: Voters facing illness or disability are disproportionately under-represented in terms of voter turnout. Earlier research has indicated that enfranchisement of these populations may reinforce the implementation of policies improving health outcomes and equity. Due to the confluence of the coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic and the 2020 election, we aimed to assess emergency absentee voting processes, which allow voters hospitalized after regular absentee deadlines to still obtain an absentee ballot, and election changes due to COVID-19 in all 50 states.

Methods: We performed a cross-sectional study collecting 34 variables pertaining to emergency voting processes and COVID-19-related election changes, including deadlines, methods of submission for applications and ballots, and specialized services for patients. Data were obtained from, in order of priority, state boards of elections websites, poll worker manuals, application forms, and state legislation. We verified all data through direct correspondence with state boards of elections.

Results: Emergency absentee voting processes are in place in 39 states, with the remaining states having universal vote-by-mail (n = 5) or extended regular absentee voting deadlines (n = 6). The emergency absentee period most commonly began within 24 hours following the normal absentee application deadline, which was often seven days before an election (n = 11). Unique aspects of emergency voting processes included patients designating an “authorized agent” to deliver their applications and ballots (n = 38), electronic ballot delivery (n = 5), and in-person teams that deliver ballots directly to patients (n = 18). Documented barriers in these processes nationwide include unavailable online information (n = 11), restrictions mandating agents to be family members (n = 7), physician affidavits or signatures (n = 9), and notary or witness signature requirements (n = 15). For the November 2020 presidential election, 12 states expanded absentee eligibility to allow COVID-19 as a reason to request an absentee ballot, and 18 states mailed absentee ballot applications or absentee ballots to all registered voters.

Conclusion: While 39 states operate emergency absentee voting processes for hospitalized voters, there are considerable areas for improvement and heterogeneity in guidelines for these protocols. For future election cycles, information on emergency voting and broader election reforms due to COVID-19 may be useful for emergency providers and patients alike to improve the democratic participation of voters experiencing illness.

  • 2 supplemental ZIPs

Behavioral Health

An Automated Tobacco Cessation Intervention for Emergency Department Discharged Patients

Introduction: Nearly 14% of US adults currently smoke cigarettes. Cigarette smoking causes more than 480,000 deaths each year in the United States. Emergency department (ED) patients are frequently asked for their use of tobacco. Manual selection of pre-formed discharge instructions is the norm for most ED. Providing tobacco cessation discharge instructions to ED patients presents another avenue to combat the tobacco use epidemic we face. The objective of the study is to evaluate the effectiveness of an automated discharge instruction system in increasing the frequency of discharging current tobacco users with instructions for tobacco cessation.

Methods: The study was done at an urban academic tertiary care center. A before and after study was used to test the hypothesis that use of an automated discharged instruction system would increase the frequency that patients who use tobacco were discharged with tobacco cessation instructions. Patients that were admitted, left against medical advice, eloped or left without being seen were excluded. The before phase was from 09/21/14-10/21/14 and the after phase was from the same dates one year later, 09/21/15-10/21/15. This was done to account for confounding by time of year, ED volume and other factors. A Fisher’s Exact Test was calculated to compare these two groups.

Results: Tobacco cessation DC instructions were received 2/486 (0.4%) of tobacco users in the pre-implementation period compared to 357/371 (96%) in the post-implementation period (p < 0.05).

Conclusions: The automated discharge instructions system increases the proportion of tobacco users who receive cessation instructions. Given the public health ramifications of tobacco use, this could prove to be a significant piece in decreasing tobacco use in patients who go to the emergency department.


Severe Vitamin K-dependent Coagulopathy from Rodenticide-contaminated Synthetic Cannabinoids: Emergency Department Presentations

Introduction: Synthetic cannabinoids are a rapidly expanding subset of designer drugs widely available in the United States since 2008. In Illinois during the spring of 2018, over 160 documented cases of bleeding and prolonged coagulopathy occurred secondary to contaminated synthetic cannabinoids.

Methods: We conducted a retrospective cohort study consisting of 38 patients to describe the initial emergency department (ED) presentation, diagnosis, and treatment.

Results: Through serum testing we found that three long-acting anticoagulant rodenticides (LAAR) were detected in patients who had inhaled these tainted products: brodifacoum, difenacoum, and bromodialone. 

Discussion: This study encompasses the largest ED presentation of LAAR poisoning via the inhalational route known to date. Conclusion: The emergency physician should be aware of the potential for tainted coingestants as the cause of undifferentiated coagulopathy.