>EM Reflections – May 2017

Thanks to Dr Paul Page for his summary

Edited by Dr David Lewis

 

Top tips from this month’s rounds:

  1. DVT – Anticoagulation Bridging… when is it needed?
  2. Anticoagulated elderly patient with minor trauma. Can we rely on a recent INR?
  3. Abdominal pain in an elderly patient. Does a nonspecific exam and normal vitals exclude serious illness?

 


DVT – Anticoagulation Bridging… when is it needed?

Consider the type of anticoagulation best suited for your patient. Remember warfarin needs bridging until therapeutic INR is achieved.  Ensure that patients discharged after hours have a robust plan for follow up and enough supply until follow up occurs.

Outpatient Management of Anticoagulation Therapy – American Family Physician 2013

 

For Warfarin therapy in DVT, Thrombosis Canada recommends:

Full-dose low molecular weight heparin (LMWH) overlapping with warfarin for at least 5 days and until the INR is at least 2.0 for at least 2 days.

 

Bridging is not required when prescribing a Direct Oral Anticoagulant (DOAC) e.g Apixaban or Rivaroxaban.

 

Thrombosis Canada tool to support decision making for Anticoagulation therapy in DVT

Management of DVT:

General measures:
Unless compression ultrasound (CUS) is rapidly available, patients with moderate-to-high suspicion of DVT (except those with a high risk of bleeding) should start anticoagulant therapy before the diagnosis is confirmed.  Imaging confirmation should be obtained as soon as possible.
Outpatient management is preferred over hospital-based treatment unless there is an additional indication for hospitalization.
Initial treatment should have an immediate anticoagulant effect. Therefore, warfarin monotherapy is not appropriate initially.

Treatment Regimens:

Depending on the clinical presentation, one of following regimens should be used for the initial 3 months:

  • Full-dose low molecular weight heparin (LMWH) overlapping with warfarin for at least 5 days and until the INR is at least 2.0 for at least 2 days.
  • Full-dose IV heparin overlapping with warfarin for at least 5 days and until the INR is at least 2.0 for at least 2 days.
  • Apixaban 10 mg PO BID for 1 week before reducing dose to 5 mg PO BID.
  • Rivaroxaban 15 mg PO BID for 3 weeks before reducing dose to 20 mg PO once daily.
  • Full-dose SC LMWH or IV heparin for at least 5-10 days before switching to dabigatran 150 mg PO BID or to edoxaban 60 mg PO once daily.
  • Full-dose LMWH alone without switching to an oral anticoagulant.
  • Full-dose LMWH for the 1st month or so before switching to a DOAC or warfarin.

 


Anticoagulated elderly patient with minor trauma. Can we rely on a recent INR?

 

Elderly patients on warfarin presenting with minor trauma are commonly seen in the ED.  Many will have been on warfarin for a prolonged period and will have stable INRs. However we can not rely on a previous INR level when assessing the current presentation. Consider the following rational:

  • Why did the patient fall?
  • Do they have a concomitant illness?
  • Are they compliant with their medication?
  • Have they been prescribed or are you considering prescribing new medication that may interact with warfarin?

Clinically Significant Drug Interactions

Anticoagulated patients frequently re-attend the ED with complications of bleeding after discharge following minor injury e.g enlarging hematoma, blood soaked dressings, missed internal bleeding, mobility failure. Consider whether admission for observation may be more appropriate than discharge in this group of patients. For those discharge ensure that they have close support and clear advice on when to return.

Practical tips for warfarin dosing and monitoring – Cleveland Clinic Journal

 

See this recent Medical Student Pearl on Reversal of Anticoagulation in the ED

Medical Student Clinical Pearl – Reversal of Anticoagulation in the Emergency Department

 


 

Abdominal pain in an elderly patient. Does a nonspecific exam and normal vitals exclude serious illness?

Elderly patients presenting to the ED with acute abdominal pain should be considered extremely high risk. Published series have reported mortality rates approaching 10% (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7091511)

Presentations can be delayed, physical exam can be innocuous, lab results can be misleading. The risk of serious pathology is much greater and the outcome of delayed diagnosis can be significant.

Abdominal emergencies in the geriatric patient – Int J Emerg Med. 2014; 7: 43.

 

 

An excellent post from ALIEM – 10 Tips for Approaching Abdominal Pain in the Elderly

After seeing your fifth young patient of the day with chronic pelvic pain, constipation, and irritable bowel syndrome, it is easy to be lulled into the mindset that abdominal pain is nothing to worry about. Not so with the elderly. These 10 tips will help focus your approach to atraumatic abdominal pain in older adults and explain why presentations are frequently subtle and diagnoses challenging.

 

Erect CXR – Abdominal Series – Free air under diaphragm in perforated bowel

 

Bottom Line –

Elderly patients with abdominal pain are at a much greater risk of serious pathology and require an extremely thorough assessment before (if ever) discharging with a rule-out diagnosis e.g constipation, gastro, abdo pain NYD etc.