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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Volume 8, Issue 3, 2007

Volume 8 Issue 3 2007


The Birth of the Western Journal of Emergency Medicine: WestJEM

This editorial describes the rational for the transformation of the California Journal of Emergency Medicine to the Western Journal of Emergency Medicine, and lays out its new mission, vision and focus.

Asthma: Effect of Genotype on Response to Therapy in the Emergency Department

Objective: We examined the effect of two β2-adrenoreceptor (β2AR) polymorphisms (A46G and C79G) in asthmatics presenting to the Emergency Department (ED) in relation to their response to standard therapy measured by change in Forced Expiratory Volume at one second (FEV1). Our hypothesis was that the polymorphisms in the β2AR gene would predict clinical response to therapy with 46G and 79C displaying decreased response to inhaled therapy. Methods: This was a pilot feasibility study of a convenience sample of patients seen in the ED for acute exacerbation of asthma. Baseline data collected included: age, gender, ethnicity, vital signs, baseline FEV1, body mass index (BMI), smoking history and medications taken prior to arrival to the ED. Patients received standard ED care and FEV1 was measured after each treatment. Blood was taken and genotyped. Results: Fifty-three patients were enrolled over a three-month period. Using mean improvement in FEV1 from baseline to the first treatment as the primary outcome of interest, we performed multivariable linear regression analyses, with the FEV1 change as the dependent variable. When modeled as an ordinal covariate representing the number of G alleles present, there was a significant positive trend for the C79G locus (p=0.035). Those who were GG homozygotes had a 0.284 L/min improvement in FEV1 (31%) after their initial albuterol treatment compared to 0.123 L/min (12%) in those who were CC homozygotes. This represents a 2.5 times relative difference and a 19% actual difference. Genotypes at the A46G locus were not associated with FEV1 change. Conclusion: In this pilot study of ED patients with acute asthma exacerbation, there was a significant effect of genotype on response to therapy.

A Prospective, Randomized Trial in The Emergency Department Of Suggestive Audio-Therapy Under Deep Sedation for Smoking Cessation

Objectives: In a sample of patients undergoing procedural deep sedation in the emergency department (ED), we conducted a prospective, randomized, single-blinded trial of audio-therapy for smoking cessation. Methods: We asked subjects about their smoking, including desire to quit (0-10 numerical scale) and number of cigarettes smoked per day. Subjects were randomized to either a control tape (music alone) or a tape with repeated smoking-cessation messages over music. Tapes were started with first doses of sedation and stopped with patient arousal. Telephone follow-up occurred between two weeks and three months to assess the number of cigarettes smoked per day. Study endpoints were self-reported complete cessation and decrease of half or more in total cigarettes smoked per day. Results: One hundred eleven patients were enrolled in the study, 54 to intervention and 57 to control. Mean desire to quit was 7.15 ± 2.6 and mean cigarettes per day was 17.5 ± 12.1. We successfully contacted 69 (62%) patients. Twenty-seven percent of intervention and 26% of control patients quit (mean difference = 1%; 95% CI: –22.0% to 18.8%). Thirty-seven percent of intervention and 51% of control patients decreased smoking by half or more (mean difference = 14.6%; 95% CI: –8.7% to 35.6%). Conclusion: Suggestive audio-therapy delivered during deep sedation in the ED did not significantly decrease self-reported smoking behavior.

Educational Assessment of Medical Student Rotation in Emergency Ultrasound

Background: Medical student ultrasound education is sparse. In 2002, we began the first medical student rotation in emergency ultrasound. Objective: To evaluate if medical students can learn and retain sonographic skills during a two- or four-week elective. Methods: We gave students an exam on the first and last days of the rotation. Six months later, students took the exam a third time. A control group was used for comparison. Results: Over a 19-month period, we enrolled 45 students (25 on the two-week and 20 on the four-week elective). The four-week student post-test score was significantly better than the two- week posttest score (81% vs. 72%, p=0.003). On the six-month exam, the four-week student post-test score was significantly better than the two-week post-test score (77% vs 69%, p=0.008). The control group did not statistically improve. Conclusion: Medical students can learn bedside ultrasound interpretation with clinical integration and retain the knowledge six months later.

The Basics of Alcohol Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment in the Emergency Department

Nearly eight million emergency department (ED) visits are attributed to alcohol every year in the United States. A substantial proportion is due to trauma. In 2005, 16,885 people were killed as a result of alcohol-related motor vehicle crashes. Patients with alcohol-use problems (AUPs) are not only more likely to drive after drinking but are also at greater risk for serious alcohol-related illness and injury. Emergency departments have an important and unique opportunity to identify these patients and intervene during the “teachable moment” of an ED visit. The American College of Emergency Physicians, Emergency Nurses Association, American College of Surgeons-Committee on Trauma, American Public Health Association, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, have identified Alcohol Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) as a pivotal injury and illness-prevention strategy to improve the health and well-being of ED patients. We provide a general overview of the basis and need for integrating SBIRT into EDs. Models of SBIRT, as well as benefits and challenges to its implementation, are also discussed.

New Onset Thyrotoxicosis Presenting as Vomiting, Abdominal Pain and Transaminitis in the Emergency Department

This case report describes an unusual presentation of an emergency department (ED) patient with nausea, vomiting, and epigastric pain, who was initially diagnosed with viral hepatitis. The patient returned to the ED seven days later with persistent tachycardia, and was diagnosed with new onset thyrotoxicosis.