EM Reflections – September 2019

Thanks to Dr Paul Page for leading the discussions this month

Edited by Dr David Lewis 

 


Discussion Topics

  1. Refractory Hypotension / Sepsis – ‘ringing the changes

  2. Hypertensive Urgency / Emergency – “I was sent to the ER by the pharmacy checkout assistant

  3. Investigation Reports / Systems / Adverse Events


Refractory Hypotension / Sepsis

 

This interesting historical perspective from NPR makes an interesting read on the origins of Normal Saline

As it turns out, normal saline isn’t very normal at all. The average sodium level in a healthy patient is about 140 (as measured in something called milliequivalents per liter). For chloride, it’s about 100. But the concentration of both sodium and chloride in normal saline is 154. That’s pretty abnormal—especially the chloride.

Sidney Ringer (click for biography)

 

 “Among critically ill adults, the use of balanced crystalloids for intravenous fluid administration resulted in a lower rate of the composite outcome of death from any cause, new renal-replacement therapy, or persistent renal dysfunction than the use of saline.” Semler MW, Self WH, Wanderer JP, et al. Balanced crystalloids versus saline in critically ill adultsN Engl J Med. 2018;378:829-839.

Data Suggests Lactated Ringer’s Is Better than Normal Saline – ACEP Now

PulmCrit- Get SMART: Nine reasons to quit using normal saline for resuscitation

Take Home

  • Re-consider cause of hypotension in patients not responding to IV fluid resuscitation.
  • High mortality for elderly patients presenting to ED with hypotension.
  • Early switch to Ringers Lactate for IV fluids if needed for large volume resuscitation in sepsis.
  • If a British doc asks for Hartman’s, use Ringer’s… it’s the same.

 


 

Hypertensive Urgency / Emergency

Although elevated blood pressures can be alarming to the patient, hypertensive urgency usually develops over days to weeks. In this setting, it is not necessary to lower blood pressure acutely. A rapid decrease in blood pressure can actually cause symptomatic hypotension, resulting in hypoperfusion to the brain

RxFiles.ca summary pdf

How should I manage patients who present with a hypertensive urgency — i.e. BP > 180/120 mm Hg without impending or progressive end-organ damage (e.g. patient with headache, shortness or breath or epistaxis)?

  • For patients with hypertensive urgencies
    • Optimize (or restart) their current treatment regimens
    • Consider oral short-acting agents (e.g. captopril, labetalol, clonidine)
    • Do not treat aggressively with intravenous drugs or oral loading
    • Ensure that the patient has a follow-up appointment within a few days

How should I manage patients who present with a hypertensive emergency — i.e. BP > 180/120 mm Hg and impending or progressive end-organ damage (e.g. neurologic, cardiovascular, eclampsia)?

  • Reduce BP immediately with intravenous drugs, and monitor BP continuously in an intensive care setting.
  • Consider using the following drugs:
    • Vasodilators: sodium nitroprusside, nicardipine, fenoldopam mesylate, nitroglycerin, enalaprilat, hydralazine
    • Adrenergic blockers: labetalol, esmolol, phentolamine
  • Do not use short-acting nifedipine (lowers BP fast enough to provoke ischemia).
  • Aim for 25% reduction of the mean arterial blood pressure within minutes to 1 hour o Then if the patient is stable, reduce BP to 160/100-110 mm Hg over 2-6 hours and normalize within 24-48 hours.
  • Exceptions include stroke (unless BP is lowered to allow thrombolytic agents to be used) and dissecting aortic aneurysm (target systolic BP is < 100 mm Hg if possible).

from GAC Guidelines

Episode 40: Asymptomatic Hypertension

 

Take Home

  • Most patients with elevated BP (greater than 180/110) that are asymptomatic can safely follow up with Family Doctor.
  • True hypertensive emergencies are infrequent.
  • If mild symptoms consider starting antihypertensives in ED if unsure about follow up.
  • No good evidence that starting in antihypertensives ED for patients that can access their Family Doctor within next few days improves outcomes.

 


 

Radiology Reports / Systems / Adverse Events

 

Failure to follow up on radiology studies has become a frequent claim against both EPs and radiologists, according to Darien Cohen, MD, JD, an attending physician at Presence Resurrection Medical Center and clinical assistant professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine at University of Illinois, both in Chicago.

  • ED policies should ensure that all radiology alerts are available in a single location, and it must be clear who is responsible for follow-up.
  • Follow-up must be clearly documented in the medical record.
  • Any incidental finding mentioned on the radiology report should be communicated to the patient, and this communication must be clearly documented in the medical record.

 

Adverse Events Related to Emergency Department Care: A Systematic Review

A greater proportion of AE were preventable among the discharged population (71.4%; n = 15) than among the admitted population (40.9%; n = 9). Among discharged patients, management issues (47.6%; n = 10), diagnostic issues (33.3%; n = 7), and unsafe dispositions decisions (19%; n = 4) were the most common causes of AE

 

Safeguards in the system of care are like slices of cheese with holes representing possible failure points. See the Swiss Cheese Model at CMPA.ca

 

WTBS 9 – EM Quality Assurance Part One: Improving Follow up from the ED

 

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EM Reflections – June 2019 – Part 2

Thanks to Dr. Joanna Middleton for leading the discussions this month

Edited by Dr David Lewis 


Discussion Topics

  1. When is a pregnancy not a pregnancy? (see part 1)
  2. Caustic Ingestions (see part 1)
  3. Transient Ischemic Attack – ED Questions

 

Transient Ischemic Attack – ED Questions

 

Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA): A brief episode of neurological dysfunction caused by focal brain, spinal cord or retinal ischemia, with clinical symptoms and without imaging evidence of acute infarction. Transient ischemic attack and minor stroke are the mildest form of acute ischemic stroke in a continuum that cannot be differentiated by symptom duration alone, but the former typically resolves within one hour.

https://www.strokebestpractices.ca/

 

Dual Anti-Platelet Therapy (DAPT)?

Patients who present within 48 hours of a suspected transient ischemic attack are at the highest risk for recurrent stroke

Uptodate – DAPT for high-risk TIA, defined as an ABCD2 score of ≥4

For CVA – ASA only unless already on ASA, then DAPT.  For minor CVA/TIA – DAPT


Hold Birth Control?


 

Admission?

Of all ischemic strokes during the 30 days after a first TIA, 42 percent occurred within the first 24 hours.

 


Stroke Assessment Pocket Cards

Saskatchewan TIA Referral Pathway

Saskatchewan TIA Patient Information Leaflet

 

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EM Reflections – June 2019 – Part 1

Thanks to Dr. Joanna Middleton for leading the discussions this month

Edited by Dr David Lewis 


Discussion Topics

  1. When is a pregnancy not a pregnancy?
  2. Caustic Ingestions
  3. Transient Ischemic Attack – Emergency Medicine (see part 2)

When is a pregnancy not a pregnancy?

Molar Pregnancy

Hydatidiform mole (molar pregnancy) is a relatively rare complication of fertilization with an incidence in the United States of 0.63 to 1.1 per 1000 pregnancies, although rates vary geographically. It is included in the spectrum of gestational trophoblastic diseases and is comprised of both complete molar pregnancies (CM) and partial molar pregnancies (PM).

The most well characterized risk factor for CM is extreme of maternal age. Maternal ages less than 20 or greater than 40 years have been associated with relative risks for CM as high as 10- and 11-fold greater respectively. Other potential risk factors include oral contraceptive use, maternal type A or AB blood groups, maternal smoking, and maternal alcohol abuse.

Molar pregnancy typically presents in the first trimester and may be associated with a wide array of findings, including vaginal bleeding (most common), uterine size larger than expected according to pregnancy date (CM), uterine size smaller than expected according to pregnancy date (PM), excessive beta-human chorionic gonadotropin (β-hcg) levels, anemia, hyperemesis gravidum, theca lutein cysts, pre-eclampsia, and respiratory distress.Studies comparing modern clinical presentations of CM with historical presentations have demonstrated a significant reduction in many of the classic presenting signs and symptoms such as vaginal bleeding and excessive uterine size. This reduction is attributed to early detection by transvaginal ultrasound and increasingly sensitive β-hcg assays. Numerous studies evaluating the efficacy of ultrasound in detecting molar pregnancy demonstrate a 57–95 percent sensitivity for the detection of CM compared to only 18–49 percent sensitivity for PM.

More here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2791738/

PoCUS – Normal Early Pregnancy

Arrow = Yolk sac (YS) within Gestational sac (GS), note the hyperechoic decidual reaction surrounding GS, Arrow head = Fetal Pole

PoCUS – Molar Pregnancy

 

PoCUS SIgns:

  • enlarged uterus
  • may be seen as an intrauterine mass with cystic spaces without any associated fetal parts
    • the multiple cystic structures classically give a “snow storm” or “bunch of grapes” type appearance.
  • may be difficult to diagnose in the first trimester 6
    • may appear similar to a normal pregnancy or as an empty gestational sac
    • <50% are diagnosed in the first trimester
  • More on Radiopedia.org

Useful post from County EM blog- click here

 


Caustic Ingestions

 

 

Hydrochloric Acid – pH 1-2

Dangerous if pH <2 or >11.5-12

For alkaline – higher percent, shorter time to burn – 10%NaOH – 1 min of contact to produce deep burn, 30% within seconds

 

Acid – painful to swallow so usually less volume, bad taste so more gagging/laryngeal injury, more aqueous so less esophageal injury, pylorospasm prevents entry into duodenum producing stagnation and prominent antrum injury.  Food is protective.  Acid ingestion typically produces a superficial coagulation necrosis that thromboses the underlying mucosal blood vessels and consolidates the connective tissue, thereby forming a protective eschar.  In enough amount – perforation.

Alkali – burns esophagus more, neutralized in stomach.  Liquefaction necrosis.

Management

Decontamination: Activated charcoal / GI decontamination / neutralisation procedures are contraindicated

Obtaining meaningful info from endoscopy after treatment with charcoal is very difficult

If asymptomatic – observe, trial of oral intake at 4 hours after exposure, earlier if low suspicion or likely benign ingestion after discussion with Poisons Centre

Symptomatic patients or those with a significant ingestion

(high-concentration acid or alkali or high volume [>200 ml] of a low-concentration acid or alkali)

Upper GI endoscopy should be performed early (3 to 48 hrs) and preferably during the first 24 hrs after ingestion to evaluate extent of esophageal and gastric damage and guide management.  Endoscopy is contraindicated in patients who have evidence of GI perforation. (Ingestion of >60 mL of concentrated HCl leads to severe injury to the GI tract with necrosis and perforation, rapid onset of MODS and is usually fatal – endoscopy within 24 hours (unless asymptomatic at 4 hours)

Complications – 1/3 develop strictures – directly related to depth/severity of injury, years later

 


 

TAKE HOME POINTS

  1. PV Bleed, Hyperemesis, PoCUS = bunch Grapes or Snowstorm – consider Molar Pregnancy
  2. Don’t use Activated Charcoal for Caustic Ingestions
  3. Discuss Caustic Ingestions with Poisons Centre
  4. Consider early endoscopy
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EM Reflections – May 2019

Thanks to Dr Paul Page for leading the discussions this month

Edited by Dr David Lewis 


 

Discussion Topics

  1. Measles – Refresher
  2. Posterior Stroke – Beware of Mimics
  3. Missed Fracture – Distracting Injuries

 

Measles – Refresher

Measles has for many years been an infrequent diagnosis in our population. However falling herd immunity is resulting in cases presenting to Canadian ED’s.

Measles signs and symptoms appear around 10 to 14 days after exposure to the virus.

  • Fever
  • Dry cough
  • Runny nose
  • Sore throat
  • Conjunctivitis

 

Measles causes a red, blotchy (erythematous maculopapular) rash that usually appears first on the face and behind the ears, then spreads downward to the chest and back and finally to the feet. Koplick’s spots can appear 1-2 days before the rash. The rash appearance can be variable, discrete maculopapular or merging erythematous.

 

Visit emDocs.net for this great refresher on EMin5 – Measles

EM in 5: Measles


 

Posterior Stroke – Beware of Mimics

Stroke Mimics

  • Acute peripheral vestibular dysfunction (Don’t forget the HINTS exam)
  • Basilar migraine
  • Intracranial hemorrhage
  • SAH
  • Brain Tumour
  • Toxic or metabolic disturbances
  • Neuroinflammatory or chronic infectious disorders

Note that it is possible to be influenced by past experience with mimics, resulting in falsely diagnosing a mimic in the presence of a stroke.

Stroke Chameleons

Stroke chameleons are disorders that look like other disorders but are actually stroke syndromes

  • Bilateral thalamic ischaemia is such a disorder and may cause reduced consciousness level or a global amnesic syndrome
  • Bilateral occipital stroke may present as confusion or delirium
  • Infarcts limited to the medial vermis in medial posterior inferior cerebellar artery (PICA) territory usually cause a vertiginous syndrome that resembles peripheral vestibulopathy

A very useful BMJ review article on Posterior Stroke can be accessed here.

Be cautious of migraine diagnosis with history that is different to typical migraine presentation. Multiple visits should raise concerns. Importance of thorough neuro exam to find possible deficits that would raise suspicion for more serious pathology. In posterior stroke, special attention should be given to examining the visual fields.

 

Imaging in Stroke and TIA

See Rounds Presentation by Dr. Dylan Blacquiere (Neurologist)

Imaging Recommendations. Dr Jake Swan (Radiologist)

After meeting with Dr. Blacquiere and the ER Department regarding stroke management and SAH management, I’m recommending the following based on new literature and evolving management in “high risk” patients.

1) High risk TIA patients, such as those who had a profound motor / speech deficit that is resolving should have a CTA carotid / COW as well as their standard CT head.

2) SAH patients should have CT done prior to LP due to false positive LP rates.  If there is any question about vascular malformation / aneurysm, follow with a CTA. The CTA isn’t necessary for every headache patient, etc, just those with a positive bleed on the unenhanced CT.

 

The evidence is summarised in this recent paper – Imaging Recommendations for Acute Stroke and Transient Ischemic Attack Patients: A Joint Statement by the American Society of Neuroradiology, the American College of Radiology and the Society of NeuroInterventional Surgery


 

Missed Fracture – Distracting Injuries

Standard ATLS teaching, but this error still occurs……

Ensure a complete secondary survey is completed in all patients presenting with history of trauma.

Read the StatPearl Article and then do the MCQ test here

 

Trauma! Initial Assessment and Management

 

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EM Reflections – February 2019

Thanks to Dr. Joanna Middleton for leading the discussions this month

Edited by Dr David Lewis 


Discussion Topics

  1. Can diagnostic ultrasound reliably rule out appendicitis?
  2. Do mandibular fractures need to be admitted?
  3. Can neuromuscular disorders alone result in symptoms of dyspnoea?

Can diagnostic ultrasound reliably rule out appendicitis?

  • Accuracy depends upon the skill and experience of the sonographer – when the appendix is visualized the accuracy of ultrasound is equivalent to CT – sensitivity and specificity of 91-98% and 86-92%
  • Inaccurate examinations were significantly associated with high body mass index (≥85th percentile, primarily false-negative results) 

In this case, a patient with clinically suspected appendicitis, had an ultrasound that was reported normal i.e the appendix was visualized and appeared normal. A subsequent CT confirmed the diagnosis of appendicitis.

Take Home Point: All diagnostic tests have a false negative rate. If it looks like a sock, even if the test says it isn’t, it still might be.


Do mandibular fractures need to be admitted?

  • Must assess open vs closed – open needs ABx
  • Consider MOI/associated injuries
  • Bilateral #’s – airway obstruction 
    • Posterior displacement of the tongue
    • Bleeding – tearing of the periosteum and muscles attached to the mandible – sublingual hematoma, swelling and life-threatening airway compromise
    • Edema
    • FB

Admission Criteria:

Admit (ENT, OMFS, Plastics) for:

  1. Airway compromise (e.g when lying flat)
  2. Unable to tolerate PO or secretions
  3. Inadequate pain control
  4. Open and/or unstable fractures

Useful review article here

In this case the patient was admitted to Family Medicine after discussion with other relevant specialties.

Recommended Disposition Guidelines for Trauma Patients:

Take Home Point: Mandibular fractures are usually indicative of significant force. They are usually fractured in 2 places and therefore unstable. Disposition to appropriate specialist and level of care is recommended.


Can neuromuscular disorders alone result in symptoms of dyspnoea?

Consider all the common causes of dyspnoea first

“No single abnormality is diagnostic of respiratory muscle weakness; rather, diagnosis is based on a constellation of abnormalities. The use of single tests tends to overdiagnose respiratory muscle weakness, whereas use of combinations of tests increase diagnostic accuracy.”

And interesting case report here

Take Home Point: A differential diagnosis should always include the common conditions, but also consider the rarer conditions. Online tools are available to help with rare disease diagnosis – see this article

Some online differential diagnosis tools:

http://www.findzebra.com/

https://www.isabelhealthcare.com/

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EM Reflections – January 2019

Thanks to Dr. Paul Page for leading the discussions this month

Edited by Dr David Lewis 


Top tips from this month’s rounds:

  1. Conversion disorder – remember = diagnosis of exclusion.  Consider admission for urgent workup for patients with neurological findings and no definitive diagnosis.  Or good documentation if thought to be functional disorder.
  2. CT reports – important to document details of Diagnostic Imaging report (verbal, system or dictated).  Be aware of old reports on dictation system and make sure report is the appropriate one.
  3. Vision loss – acute vision loss needs to be seen ASAP for assessment.  Don’t need room 27 (eye room) for all eye cases. Emergent ophthalmology cases can be initially assessed in any room.
  4. Supracondylar Fractures – remove ice packs etc to have a good look at all Ortho injuries during triage assessment, even when brought in by EMS.  Assess for limb deformity, skin tenting and especially neuro-vascular compromise. These patients should be urgently assessed and appropriately managed including analgesia, splinting and emergent reduction if indicated. Don’t need to wait for room 10 ( Fracture Procedure Room) for emergent Ortho cases.

Learning Points:

Scanning Dysarthria

Scanning dysarthria (scanning speech, explosive speech) is a stuttering dysarthria found in cerebellar disorders. Spoken words are broken up into separate syllables, often separated by a noticeable pause, and spoken with varying force. The sentence “Walking is good exercise”, for example, might be pronounced as “Walk (pause) ing is good ex (pause) er (pause) cise”. Additionally, stress may be placed on unusual syllables. Charcot’s neurological triad suggestive of multiple sclerosis has it has one of the three classic symptoms.

https://library.med.utah.edu/neurologicexam/cases/html_case03/feedback/FB_dysarthria.html


Corneal Hydrops

Corneal hydrops is the acute onset of corneal edema due to a break in Descemet membrane. This condition may be seen in individuals with advanced keratoconus or other forms of corneal ectasia. More here

Keratoconus is a disorder in which the cornea assumes an irregular conical shape. Acute hydrops is a well-known complication, occurring in approximately 3% of patients with keratoconus. Hydrops occurs after rupture of the posterior cornea leads to an influx of aqueous humor into the cornea, resulting in edema. Corneal edema typically resolves in 6 to 10 weeks; therefore, hydrops is usually not an indication for emergency corneal transplantation. Infectious causes of corneal opacification and visual loss, such as bacterial, viral, or fungal keratitis, must be ruled out as the cause of acute visual loss.


Seidel Test

The test used to reveal ocular leaks from the cornea, sclera or conjunctiva following injury or surgery and sometimes disease is called Seidel test.

http://eyewiki.aao.org/Seidel_Test

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EM Reflections – December 2018

Thanks to Dr. Joanna Middleton for leading the discussions this month

Edited by Dr David Lewis 

Dr. Middleton’s Tips:

  1. Lower extremity fractures that require reduction – consider posterior slab with a stirrup rather than a circumferential cast.  
  2. We have a C-arm…use it!  Sending grossly deformed bony injuries to the X-ray department for imaging can result in long delays to reduction/treatment.
  3. Handover is high risk and is a recurrent theme in EM reflections…it shouldn’t occur as a hallway conversation in passing.  Be sure to communicate what the handover physician needs to do and as the handover physician you should document completion of the task.
  4. Pelvic fractures can occur with low mechanism injuries, particularly in the elderly.  Pelvic fractures differ from hip fractures – it raises the severity of injury and should warrant a lower threshold for CT.  Pelvic fractures should have a full trauma evaluation.
  5. Episodes of hypotension in trauma patients should trigger a re-evaluation of a patient and bleeding should always be considered.
  6. Cross table lateral can help if you are unsure if the hip is out of joint.
  7. If you are taking over a sick patient in handover, be sure to document on the chart.

Tibial Shaft Fractures

High risk for compartment syndrome

Initially, all tibial shaft fractures should be stabilized with a long posterior splint with the knee in 10-15° of flexion and the ankle flexed at 90°. Admission to the hospital may also be necessary to control pain and to monitor closely for compartment syndrome.

Closed fractures with minimal displacement or stable reduction may be treated nonoperatively with a long leg cast, but cast application should be delayed for 3-5 days to allow early swelling to diminish. The cast should extend from the mid thigh to the metatarsal heads, with the ankle at 90° of flexion and the knee extended. The cast increases tibial stability and can decrease pain and swelling

Tibial shaft fractures, even distal ones, are a different animal to ankle fractures. Forces involved in injury are much greater. There is no universally accepted classification for tibial shaft fractures. Describe the following:

  • Location (prox, middle, distal)
  • Configuration (transverse, spiral, comminuted)
  • Displacement
  • Angulation
  • Length
  • Rotation
  • Open/Closed

Ankle Classification

Type A. Fracture of the fibula distal to syndesmosis. An oblique medial malleolus fracture may also be present. 

Type B. Fracture of the fibula at the level of the syndesmosis. These fractures may be stable or unstable, based upon the presence of deltoid ligament rupture or medial malleolus fracture. 

Type C. Fracture of the fibula proximal to syndesmosis. These unstable fractures are generally associated with syndesmosis injuries, and may include medial malleolus fracture or deltoid ligament 

Full Cast vs Splint

There is little evidence favouring splint vs cast in acute lower extremity unstable fractures.  Splints are generally recommended in both reviews and textbooks, but these recommendations are not referenced. However the general consensus seems to be favouring Splint over Cast – to avoid the risk of swelling and subsequent compartment syndrome.

Roberts: Clinical Procedures in Emergency Medicine, 5th ed.

Emergency clinicians have virtually abandoned the use of circumferential casts in favor of premade commercial immobilizing devices or splints made from plaster of Paris or fiberglass. The impetus for this change is primarily related to the complications occasionally associated with circumferential casts, liability issues, and ease of application brought about by new technology. In most instances, properly applied splints provide short-term immobilization equal to that of casts while allowing for continued swelling, thus reducing the risk of ischemic injury.


Acetabular Fractures vs Hip Fractures

Hip fractures are usually low impact pathological fractures and rarely associated with hemorrhage. Acetabular fracture is a PELVIC # and they bleed……

Bleeding from bone and retroperitoneal venous plexus makes up 90%, the other 10% is arterial

Patients with acetabular fractures have a high incidence of associated injuries and a full trauma assessment should be performed. 

Geriatric Acetabular Fractures

  • Often low-energy trauma in osteoporotic bone
  • 1/3 have associated injuries
  • 33% one year mortality rate
  • Judet views helpful

See this post for an approach to interpreting Pelvic X-Rays:

http://www.tamingthesru.com/blog/diagnostics/pelvic-xrays

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EM Reflections – November 2018

Thanks to Dr. Paul Page for leading the discussions this month

Edited by Dr David Lewis 


Top tips from this month’s rounds:

1. Severe Metabolic Acidosis

2. Ovarian Torsion

3. Acetaminophen Overdose


Severe Metabolic Acidosis with Unexplained Anion Gap

Case: Female presents with reduced LOC, found with large empty bottle of gin. Smells of alcohol. Hypothermic. VS otherwise stable.

VBG: pH – 6.89, pCO2 – 28, bicarb – 6, Lactate – 21

Anion Gap

Anion Gap = Na+ – (Cl- + HCO3-)

An elevated anion gap strongly suggests the presence of a metabolic acidosis. The normal anion gap depends on serum phosphate and serum albumin concentrations. The normal AG = 0.2 x [albumin] (g/L) + 1.5 x [phosphate] (mmol/L)

MDCalc Anion Gap Calculator

Common Causes (MUDPILES):

  • Metformin, Methanol
  • Uremia
  • DKA
  • Pyroglutamic acidosis, paracetamol, phenformin, propylene glycol, paraladehyde
  • Iron, Isoniazid
  • Lactic acidosis
  • Ethylene glycol
  • Salicylates

Dr. Pages’s Tips: Keep toxic alcohols in the differential.  Early antibiotics for possible sepsis. Remember for sick patients to consult early to appropriate services to expedite disposition.  Sick patients take up a lot of nursing resources so also be aware of impact on nursing care and resources with these patients.


Ovarian Torsion

This is a gynae/surgical emergency, delayed diagnosis may lead to loss of ovary. Early diagnostic ultrasound is recommended.

Ovarian torsion is a rare but emergency condition in women. Early diagnosis is necessary to preserve the function of the ovaries and tubes and prevent severe morbidity. Ovarian torsion refers to complete or partial rotation of the adnexal supporting organ with ischemia. It can affect females of all ages.

Presents with acute onset severe lower abdominal pain, with nausea and vomiting.

Benign ovarian cyst > 5cm is the usual cause. Torsion can also occur in normal ovaries, however, particularly in premenarchal girls who have elongated infundibulopelvic ligaments 

Dr. Page’s Tips: Increased risk with large cysts but can occur without cysts as well.Time sensitive dx so need to be vigilant with assessment. When considering as dx need to get U/S arranged and gynaecology consultation. Remember we have 24 hour U/S coverage but we have to ask for the U/S.


Acetaminophen Overdose

Survival from a acetaminophen overdose is generally considered to be 100% in cases receiving NAC within 8 hours of exposure. Efficacy declines after this point. Therefore early recognition is paramount. Don’t miss the treatment window by not considering.

This post from LITFL does a great job outlining the management of Acetaminophen (Paracetamol) toxicity:

Also with have discussed Acetaminophen toxicity in EM reflections in June 2018:

and also in December 2016:

Dr. Page’s Tips: Correlate presentation with timeframe to see if adds up regarding time of OD. When patient being assessed by other services (with primary resident assessment) we need to keep in mind these are still our patients and review to make sure the plan seems appropriate.

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EM Reflections – October 2018

Thanks to Dr. Paul Page for leading the discussions this month

Edited by Dr David Lewis 

 


 

Top tips from this month’s rounds:

 

Trauma – Secondary Survey

DNAR Considerations 

ED Neonatal Equipment

 


Trauma – Secondary Survey

The secondary survey is performed once the primary survey and resuscitation has been completed.

The secondary survey does not begin until the primary survey (ABCDEs) is completed, resuscitative efforts are underway, and the normalization of vital functions has been demonstrated. When additional personnel are available, part of the secondary survey may be conducted while the other personnel attend to the primary survey. In this setting the conduction of the secondary survey should not interfere with the primary survey, which takes first priority. ATLS 9e

This means that on occasions trauma patients may be transferred to the OR or ICU before the secondary survey has been completed. The secondary survey is a thorough head to toe examination including where indicated adjunct investigations e.g limb radiographs. This assessment must be carefully performed and documented. It should not be rushed.

If there is not enough time to complete a thorough secondary survey (e.g patient transferred to OR during primary survey) then this should be communicated to the surgeon or other responsible physician (e.g ICU) and the documentation should reflect this.

We would recommend that all trauma patients admitted to the ICU undergo a repeat secondary survey assessment as part of the standard admission process. In some systems this is referred to as a Tertiary survey.

This systematic review reports a reduction missed injury rate when a tertiary survey is used as part of a trauma system.

Trauma.org article on tertiary survey


DNAR Considerations 

The CMPA provides excellent guidance for clinicians considering Do Not Attempt Resuscitation orders. CMPA Website

CMPA – Key Concepts for End of Life Issues

  • The best interests of the patient are paramount.

  • The capable patient has the right to consent to or refuse medical treatment, including life-sustaining treatment.

  • Thoughtful and timely advance care planning, discussion, and documentation of a patient’s wishes and healthcare goals can help avoid misunderstandings.

  • Physicians should be familiar with any relevant laws and regulatory authority (College) policies concerning end-of-life care, and the withholding or withdrawing of life-sustaining treatment, and medical assistance in dying.

  • When considering placing a do-not-resuscitate order in the medical record, or acting upon a do-not-resuscitate order, consent from the patient or substitute decision-maker is advisable. It may also be helpful and appropriate to consult with physician colleagues and the patient’s family to determine support for the order.

  • Decisions about withholding or withdrawing life-sustaining treatment that is considered futile or not medically indicated should be discussed with the patient, or the substitute decision-maker on behalf of an incapable patient. When consensus is not achieved despite discussions with the substitute decision-maker, the family, and others such as ethics consultants, patient advocates, and spiritual advisors, it may be necessary to make an application to the court (or an administrative body) or seek intervention from the local public guardian’s office.

  • Physicians considering a request for medical assistance in dying should be familiar with the eligibility criteria set out in the Criminal Codewith applicable provincial legislation, and with applicable regulatory authority (College) guidelines.

  • Physicians should be familiar with the role of advance directives (including living wills).

  • End-of-life decisions should be carefully documented in the patient’s medical record.

Horizon Health, NB uses these accepted Canadian DNAR definitions:

 


 

ED Neonatal Equipment

Perinatal Services BC, Canada have published an excellent document – Standards for Neonatal Resuscitation

It includes this Appendix for suggested Radiant Warmer Equipment checklist:

 

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EM Reflections – September 2018

Thanks to Dr. Joanna Middleton for leading the discussions this month

Edited by Dr David Lewis 

 

 


 

Top tips from this month’s rounds:

 

Pediatric Head Injury

Clonazepam Toxicity

Pediatric(< 3 months)Fever

Wide Complex Tachycardia

 


Pediatric Head Injury

  • What are the criteria for CT Head?

In a recent Lancet article (2017),  PECARN, CATCH and CHALICE were compared.

The highest point validation sensitivities were shown for PECARN in children younger than 2 years (100·0%, 95% CI 90·7–100·0; 38 patients identified of 38 with outcome [38/38]) and PECARN in children 2 years and older (99·0%, 94·4–100·0; 97/98)

  • How do I use PECARN?


 

A useful review by EM Cases can be accessed here. In an update to this review they have noted recent new evidence that isolated vomiting without any other positive rule predictors may warrant observation only:

Update 2018:  A secondary analysis of the Australasian Paediatric Head Injury Rule Study demonstrated head injury with isolated vomiting (i.e. vomiting without any of clinical decision rule predictors) was uncommonly associated with TBI on CT, or the presence of clinically important TBI.  This study suggests a strategy of observation without head CT may be appropriate management.  Abstract

Vomiting alone should not instigate CT.  Risk goes up with any other Head Injury symptoms (Headache etc). These children should be observed until they are able to tolerate oral intake and the treating clinician feels comfortable that the patient is stable without additional symptoms of head injury.

This article discusses linear skull fractures. It reminds us to always consider Non-Accidental Injury in all cases of pediatric head injury, especially in the pre-mobile age group.

PoCUS may have a role to play in fine tuning risk stratification and a recent study (2018) has further evaluated diagnostic accuracy:

We enrolled a convenience sample of 115 of 151 (76.1%) eligible patients. Of the 115 enrolled, 88 (76.5%) had skull fractures. POCUS had a sensitivity of 80 of 88 (90.9%; 95% CI 82.9-96.0) and a specificity of 23 of 27 (85.2%; 95% CI 66.3-95.8) for identifying skull fractures.

  • If I don’t perform a CT, then how long should a child with a head injury be observed?

There is no definite evidence-based answer to this question. However this study suggest that 6 hrs is probably safe.

Key Points

  1. Always use a clinical decision rule to determine whether a child with head injury requires CT, Observation or can be safely discharged
  2. When using a decision rule utilize a ‘shared decision-making’ philosophy – i.e involve the parents/carers
  3. A period of observation can reduce the number of CTs performed.
  4. If observation is recommended, then allow 6hrs.
  5. Always consider non-accidental injury during your assessment of pediatric head injury.

 

 


 

Clonazepam Toxicity

  • Overdosage of clonazepam may produce somnolence, confusion, ataxia, diminished reflexes, or coma
  • Clonazepam is extensively metabolized in the liver to several metabolites
  • Clonazepam is rapidly and well absorbed from the GI tract
  • Peak blood concentrations are reached in 2 -4 hours
  • Elimination half-life … 18.7 to 39 hr

Full ToxNet entry

Treatment

Treatment is entirely supportive with IV access and fluids and maintenance of the airway and ventilation if required

Oral activated charcoal is of little value in pure benzodiazepine poisoning. It may be given to patients who have recently ingested benzodiazepines with other drugs that may benefit from decontamination

Flumazenil is rarely indicated except for iatrogenic oversedation or respiratory depression. In addition, flumazenil may cause withdrawal states and result in seizures, adrenergic stimulation, or autonomic instability in patients chronically taking benzodiazepine, or in those with ventricular dysrhythmias and seizures who are concomitantly using cocaine or tricyclic antidepressants.

Dispostion

All patients with intentional ingestion or significant ataxia, drowsiness, or respiratory depression should be observed.

Patients with severe symptoms (ie, coma, respiratory failure, or hypotension unresponsive to IV fluids) should be consulted to ICU.

Given the prolonged half-life patients strongly consider admitting patients who present with significant drowsiness or are known to have taken a large overdose.

Patients with a significant sedative drug overdose should be advised not to drive until potential interference with psychomotor performance has resolved. For significant benzodiazepine overdose, this is at least 24 hours after discharge.

Key Points

  1. Clonazepam overdose is treated with supportive measures.
  2. Clonazepam has a very long half-life. For significant drowsiness, admission should be considered to avoid potentially very long ED observation periods.

 


Pediatric (< 3 months) Fever

The management of fever in infants less than 1 month is relatively straightforward. Guidelines are generally consistent (Merck,

  • Full blood lab work-up (CBC, CRP, Cultures)
  • Urine culture
  • CXR
  • RSV, Flu nasal swabs
  • LP
  • Empiric IV Antibiotics (e.g Ampicillin 50mg/kg and Cefotaxime 50mg/kg)
  • Consult Pediatrics and Admit

Emergency Medicine Cases article can be viewed here – Episode 48 – Pediatric Fever Without A Source

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For infants older than 30 days and younger than 3 months the guidelines are variable:

ALiEM: Paucis Verbis: Fever without a source (29 days-3 months old)

NICE Guidelines (UK):  Fever in under 5s: assessment and initial management

MD Calc – Step-by-Step Approach Calculator 

Suggested Emergency Department Approach

  • If Sick-Appearing treat as <3 months (see above)
  • If Well- Appearing (age normal vitals):
    • Full blood lab work-up (CBC, CRP, Cultures)
    • Urine culture
    • Consider CXR
    • Consult Pediatrics (Depending on results of above will either need admission +/- antibiotics or 24hr follow-up)

Yukon Guidelines


 

Wide Complex Tachycardia

Differential Diagnosis (note: repetition is deliberate!)

  • Ventricular Tachycardia
  • Ventricular Tachycardia
  • Ventricular Tachycardia
  • SVT with aberrant conduction – lots of causes
    • Pre-existing/rate-related BBB
    • Ventricular pre-excitation (AVNRT/AVRT)
    • Dysfunction of IV conduction system (toxic, metabolic, infectious, drug related etc) – hyper K, sodium channel blockers

No ‘rule’ is specific enough to correctly identify, so treat like VT

Treatment 

  • Unstable?
    • ANY sign of end-organ dysfunction – hypotension, altered LOC, CHF/SOB, CP, diaphoretic etc
    • SHOCK
  • Stable?
    • Shock or medical management
    • Amiodarone vs procainamide, ?adenosine (see below)

Adenosine/vagal – consider in patients where uncertain of diagnosis, unlikely to be VT, no hx of CAD, young, hx of SVT

Adenosine with WPW – ContraIndicated – may induce AV block and accelerate conduction of atrial fibrillatory impulses through the bypass tract, which can lead to very rapid ventricular arrhythmias that degenerate to VF.

“Avoidance of IV beta blockers, calcium channel blockers and digoxin due to the potential for hemodynamic deterioration in patients with stable WCT, potentially resulting in hypotension, VF and cardiac arrest”. (Uptodate)

Verapamil and diltiazem are calcium channel blockers (CCBs) that should be avoided in WCTs, as cardiac arrests from hemodynamic collapse have been reported following their administration.  Not only do these agents cause negative inotropy and at times profound vasodilation, but they may also allow WCTs to degenerate into VFIB

Caveat – RRWCT (Regular Really Wide Complex Tachy)

  • One situation where you may not want to assume VT….
  • What question should you ask?
    • What is the K,
    • what is the OD?
  • Really, really wide complex tachycardia – >200 mseconds – consider tox or metabolic – try bicarb or calcium – if it narrows – not VTach.
  • Avoid procainamide and amiodarone in these patients.

 

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EM Reflections – June 2018

Thanks to Dr. Joanna Middleton for leading the discussions this month

Edited by Dr David Lewis 

 


 

Top tips from this month’s rounds:

Button Battery Ingestions

Acetaminophen Overdose / Poisoning – Delayed Presentation

Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) – Follow-Up


 

Button Battery Ingestions

Button Battery Ingestion

 

Take Home Points:

  • Button battery ingestions are can potentially be very serious. Necrosis, perforation and erosion into vessels can occur in as little as 2 hours
  • ALL nasal and esophageal button batteries should be removed within 2 hours of presentation to minimize mucosal damage
  • Consider button battery ingestion in children presenting with dysphagia, refusal to eat and hematemesis
  • Co-ingestion of a button battery with a magnet requires emergency removal regardless of where it is in the GI system
  • Early GI consult is advised

The management algorithm form National Capital Poison Center covers all eventualities! (Click to enlarge)

 


 

Acetaminophen Overdose / Poisoning – Delayed Presentation

Take Home Points:

  • N-acetylcystine (NAC) is a safe and effective antidote. Time to NAC is crucial to protect the liver from significant toxicity.
  • Stated timing and dose are often unreliable and this needs to be taken into consideration.
  • NAC is almost 100% effective if administered within 8hrs of ingestion.
  • If time of ingestion is known for certain to be < 4hrs ago – draw blood for level at 4hrs post ingestion and use nomogram to determine who to treat.
  • If time of ingestion is known for certain to be < 8hrs ago – draw blood for level immediately and use nomogram to determine who to treat (provide result can be obtained within 8 hrs – otherwise start NAC pending result)
  • If time of ingestion is known for certain to be > 8hrs and < 24hrsCommence NAC and draw blood for level immediately and use nomogram to determine whether to continue NAC.
  • If time of ingestion is > 24hrs or unknown or ingestion is staggered – Commence NAC and draw blood for level immediately – Consult toxicology for advice – Only if level is undetectable and AST is normal then NAC can be discontinued, otherwise continue NAC and consult.

View the SJRHEM Acetaminophen Poisoning post here (includes Nomograms and NAC dosing):

New Acetaminophen Poisoning Guidelines from the Royal College of EM

See also this useful NEJM Review Article

For Children, this guideline is useful.

  • Presenting between 4-24 hours (Time of ingestion is known)- use nomogram to determine who to treat.


 

  • Presenting after 24 hours or time of ingestion unknown or ingestion spans > 24hrs

From: UpToDate

 


 

Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) – Admit or Follow-Up

Take Home Points:

  • All TIA patients need an ECG and baseline labs (CSBP recommended labs)
  • Very High Risk TIA Patients (see below) should have a CT/CTA (or MRI/MRA) immediately
  • High Risk TIA Patients (see below) should have a CT/CTA (or MRI/MRA) within 24hrs
  • All TIAs should be followed up in a specialist TIA Clinic
  • TIA’s + large artery stenosis – candidate for early revascularization (the sooner it is done the better the prognosis)

 

Full Canadian Stroke Best Practice Guideline can be viewed here

 

UpToDate: These results suggest that CEA is likely to be of greatest benefit if performed within two weeks of the last neurologic event in patients with ≥70 percent carotid stenosis. For patients with 50 to 69 percent stenosis, CEA may only have benefit if performed within two weeks of the last event.

 

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EM Reflections – April 2018

Thanks to Dr. Joanna Middleton for leading the discussions this month

Edited by Dr David Lewis 

 


 

Top tips from this month’s rounds:

 

Ondansetron (Zofran) and QTi

Globe Rupture

Ovarian Torsion

 


 

Ondansetron (Zofran) and QTi

  • Ondansetron prolongs QTi in a dose-dependent manner
  • Patient is most at risk for an arrhythmia when peak serum levels are reached
    • Largest difference in QTi was found at 15 minutes (IV), but has seen to persist up to 120 min in heart failure patients.
  • Arrhythmia after a single dose is EXCEEDINGLY RARE
    • No reports of arrhythmia after a single dose of oral ondansetron.
    • Consider ECG monitoring (or use another anti-emetic agent) in patients who are receiving IV ondansetron with other arrhythmogenic factors such as QTi prolonging agents or electrolyte abnormalities

Ondansetron and QTc Prolongation: Clinical Significance in the ED

 


 

Globe Rupture

  • When should you suspect?
    • Mechanism – severe blunt, penetrating, metal-on-metal
  • Signs of open globe include:
    • penetrating lid injury,
    • bullous subconjunctival hemorrhage
    • shallow anterior chamber
    • blood in the anterior chamber (hyphema),
    • peaked pupil
    • iris disinsertion (iridodialysis)
    • lens dislocation, and
    • vitreous hemorrhage. Loss of red reflex can indicate vitreous hemorrhage or retinal detachment.

The EyeRounds.org website has some useful tutorials.

 

Management 

  • Stop Examination
  • NO PATCH – Use Eyes Shield
  • Consult Ophthalmology immediately
  • NPO, Tetanus, IV Antibiotics, analgesia and antiemetics

Download (PDF, 181KB)

 


 

Ovarian Torsion

  • Uptodate:  It is one of the most common gynecologic emergencies and may affect females of all ages
  • Most common ages 20-50 years
  • Acute onset pain with adnexal mass
  • As size of mass increases, risk of torsion increases
    • #1 RF is ovarian mass >5 cm
    • benign > malignant
  • Increased risk during pregnancy, fertility treatments
  • U/S test of choice, although normal doppler does not rule out torsion
  • CT not diagnostic, although if you had a CT that didn’t show an ovarian mass of >5cm, unlikely it was torsion…
  • 86-95% of patients with torsion have a mass (exception – pediatric population – more likely to have torsion with normal ovaries)
  • Pediatric patients – early surgical detorsion more likely to be successful
  • >36 hours – non-viable

A useful recent review can be viewed here

CoreEM provides another useful summary (as well as a huge amount of other EM Topics)

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