>EM Reflections – May 2020

Thanks to Dr Paul Page for leading the discussions this month

Edited by Dr David Lewis 


Discussion Topics

  1. Seizure disorder and safe discharge 

    • Consider risk factors for adverse outcome of discharge for all patients with recurrent seizure disorder
    • Use a checklist
  2. Competency and Capacity

    • Multidisciplinary consultation is paramount in deciding capacity
    • Special circumstances include vulnerable adults and pregnancy
  3. Testicular Torsion

    • Time = Testicle viability
    • Do not delay definitive management

Seizure disorder and safe discharge 

Case

A patient presents with recurrent seizures. They have a past medical history of schizophrenia and mental health delay. Following appropriate ED management with complete resolution of seizures and full recovery of the patient – what is the recommended disposition?


Seizure disorder is a common presentation to the Emergency Department. This EM Cases post provides an excellent summary for the ED approach to resolved seizures:

Ep 132 Emergency Approach to Resolved Seizures

 

ED approach to resolved seizures – Summary pdf


In this study – Ethanol withdrawal or low antiepileptic drug levels were implicated as contributing factors in 177 (49%) of patients. New‐onset seizures were thought to be present in 94 (26%) patients. Status epilepticus occurred in only 21 (6%) patients.

73% of patients were discharged.

 

 

 


Disposition

Most authors recommend admission for patients presenting with FIRST Seizure Episode. Patients with a past medical history of recurrent seizure disorder are more likely to be discharged than admitted.

However – this EBMedicine article cites an incidence of 19% seizure recurrence rate within 24 hours of presentation, which decreased to 9% if patients with alcohol related events or focal lesions on CT were excluded. They suggest, that at present, there is insufficient evidence to guide the decision to admit. They recommend this decision be tailored to the patient, taking into consideration the patient’s access to follow-up care and social risk factors (eg, alcoholism or lack of health insurance). Patients with comorbidities, including age > 60 years, known cardiovascular disease, history of cancer, or history of immunocompromise, should be considered for admission to the hospital.

 

Considerations For Safety On Discharge

Patients and their families should be counseled and instructed on basic safety measures to prevent complications (such as trauma) during seizures. For example, patients should be advised to avoid swimming or cycling following a seizure, at least until they have been reassessed by their neurologist and their antiepileptic therapy optimized, if needed. A particularly important point for seizure patients is education against driving. Although evidence remains controversial on this issue, there is general agreement that uncontrolled epileptic patients who drive are at risk for a motor vehicle crash, with potential injury or death to themselves and others. For this reason, most states do not allow these patients to drive unless they have been seizure-free on medications for 1 year. According to population survey data, 0.01% to 0.1% of all motor vehicle crashes are attributable to seizures


Competency and Capacity

Case

A young female patient with a history of polysubstance drug abuse presents with a psychotic episode. She refuses treatment. What are the competency and capacity implications? She is also pregnant. Does this change the the competency and capacity implications?


This LitFL post provides and excellent outline for Competency and Capacity in the ED:

Capacity and Competence

This article published by the RCPSC provides a useful outline from a Canadian perspective – with the following objectives.

  1. To clarify the role of decisional capacity in informed consent
  2. To discuss problems associated with decisional capacity and addiction

RCPSC – Decisional Capacity

 


 



Capacity in Pregnancy

Recommendations from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists

On the basis of the principles outlined in this Committee Opinion, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (the College) makes the following recommendations:

  • Pregnancy is not an exception to the principle that a decisionally capable patient has the right to refuse treatment, even treatment needed to maintain life. Therefore, a decisionally capable pregnant woman’s decision to refuse recommended medical or surgical interventions should be respected.
  • The use of coercion is not only ethically impermissible but also medically inadvisable because of the realities of prognostic uncertainty and the limitations of medical knowledge. As such, it is never acceptable for obstetrician–gynecologists to attempt to influence patients toward a clinical decision using coercion. Obstetrician–gynecologists are discouraged in the strongest possible terms from the use of duress, manipulation, coercion, physical force, or threats, including threats to involve the courts or child protective services, to motivate women toward a specific clinical decision.
  • Eliciting the patient’s reasoning, lived experience, and values is critically important when engaging with a pregnant woman who refuses an intervention that the obstetrician–gynecologist judges to be medically indicated for her well-being, her fetus’s well-being, or both. Medical expertise is best applied when the physician strives to understand the context within which the patient is making her decision.
  • When working to reach a resolution with a patient who has refused medically recommended treatment, consideration should be given to the following factors: the reliability and validity of the evidence base, the severity of the prospective outcome, the degree of burden or risk placed on the patient, the extent to which the pregnant woman understands the potential gravity of the situation or the risk involved, and the degree of urgency that the case presents. Ultimately, however, the patient should be reassured that her wishes will be respected when treatment recommendations are refused.
  • Obstetrician–gynecologists are encouraged to resolve differences by using a team approach that recognizes the patient in the context of her life and beliefs and to consider seeking advice from ethics consultants when the clinician or the patient feels that this would help in conflict resolution.
  • The College opposes the use of coerced medical interventions for pregnant women, including the use of the courts to mandate medical interventions for unwilling patients. Principles of medical ethics support obstetrician–gynecologists’ refusal to participate in court-ordered interventions that violate their professional norms or their consciences. However, obstetrician–gynecologists should consider the potential legal or employment-related consequences of their refusal. Although in most cases such court orders give legal permission for but do not require obstetrician–gynecologists’ participation in forced medical interventions, obstetrician–gynecologists who find themselves in this situation should familiarize themselves with the specific circumstances of the case.
  • It is not ethically defensible to evoke conscience as a justification to attempt to coerce a patient into accepting care that she does not desire.
  • The College strongly discourages medical institutions from pursuing court-ordered interventions or taking action against obstetrician–gynecologists who refuse to perform them.
  • Resources and counseling should be made available to patients who experience an adverse outcome after refusing recommended treatment. Resources also should be established to support debriefing and counseling for health care professionals when adverse outcomes occur after a pregnant patient’s refusal of treatment.

Further Reading:

Ethically Justified Clinically Comprehensive Guidelines for the Management of the Depressed Pregnant Patient

How Do I Determine if My Patient has Decision-Making Capacity?

 


Testicular Torsion

Case

A 12 year old boy presents with scrotal discomfort in the early hours of the morning. The department is very busy and the waiting time to be seen is 4 hours. What triage category is this presenting complaint? If a diagnosis of torsion is considered, how quickly should definitive management be initiated?


Ramachandra et al. demonstrated through multivariate analysis of the factors associated with testicular salvage, that duration of symptoms of less than 6 h was a significant predictor of testicular salvage. They found that the median duration of pain was significantly longer in patients who underwent orchiectomy versus orchidopexy. Similar findings were seen with respect to time to operating room from initial presentation. They concluded that time to presentation is in fact the most important factor in determining salvageability of the testicle in testicular torsion. If surgical exploration is delayed, testicular atrophy will occur by 6 to 8 h, with necrosis ensuing within 8 to 10 h of initial presentation. Salvage rates of over 90% are seen when surgical exploration is performed within 6 h of the onset of symptoms, decreasing to 50% when symptoms last beyond 12 h. The chance of testicular salvage is less than 10%, when symptoms have been present for over 24 h

Factors influencing rate of testicular salvage in acute testicular torsion at a tertiary pediatric center.

Ramachandra P, Palazzi KL, Holmes NM, Marietti S

West J Emerg Med. 2015 Jan; 16(1):190-4.

[PubMed]

 

 

This study (Howe et al). confirmed the relationship between duration of torsion and testicle viability and also found a relationship between the degree of torsion


 

 

AAFP Review of Testicular Torsion: Diagnosis, Evaluation, and Management

 

 

 

 

 

 

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