Question Of The Day #7

question of the day
qod7 - sepsis

Which of the following is the most appropriate next step in management for this patient’s condition?

  • A) Perform endotracheal intubation
  • B) Give more IV fluids
  • C) Start IV vasopressors
  • D) Give acetaminophen

This patient has a diagnosis of septic shock due to pneumonia. In all patients presenting to the Emergency Department, the initial assessment should involve the “ABCs” (assessment of Airway, Breathing, and Circulation). The patient is given supplemental oxygen for her hypoxemia with an improved oxygen saturation from 89% to 95%. Performing endotracheal intubation (Choice A) is too aggressive at this time as the patient is improving with non-invasive oxygenation techniques. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid sepsis guidelines recommend a 30 mL/kg of isotonic crystalloid fluid bolus in patients with sepsis. However, there is limited data to support this recommendation, as some patients may benefit from less or more fluids than 30 mL/kg. The question stem indicates that an appropriate bolus of fluids has been given, so providing more IV fluids (Choice B) is not the best course of action. The use of passive leg raising or bedside ultrasonography to assess for Inferior Vena Cava (IVC) size may help a clinician discern if more or less fluids are required. For example, visualizing a flat, collapsible IVC on ultrasound indicates additional fluids may be helpful. An increase in blood pressure after a patient’s legs are raised above the level of the heart (“passive leg raise”) also supports the use of additional IV fluids. Giving acetaminophen (Choice D) will help reduce the patient’s fever and improve patient comfort. However, initiating vasopressor therapy (Choice C) is the more appropriate next course of action. Vasopressors (i.e. norepinephrine, epinephrine) are generally recommended after IV fluid boluses if a patient is persistently hypotensive with a MAP less than 65mmHg. Vasopressors help to maintain cerebral and organ perfusion in states of shock. They should be titrated to a dose that maintains a MAP of 65mmHg or above.  Correct Answer: 

References

Nicks BA, Gaillard JP. Approach to Nontraumatic Shock. “Chapter 12: Approach to Nontraumatic Shock”. In: Tintinalli JE, Ma O, Yealy DM, Meckler GD, Stapczynski J, Cline DM, Thomas SH. eds. Tintinalli’s Emergency Medicine: A Comprehensive Study Guide, 9th ed. McGraw-Hill.

Cite this article as: Joseph Ciano, USA, "Question Of The Day #7," in International Emergency Medicine Education Project, August 7, 2020, https://iem-student.org/2020/08/07/question-of-the-day-7/, date accessed: August 8, 2020

Who Takes Care of You While You Take Care of Others?

Who Takes Care of You While You Take Care of Others

The COVID-19 Pandemic has changed our lives in so many ways that sometimes it is difficult to remember how life was without all these changes. We got used to the “new normal”, which includes a constant concern about contamination, economic crisis, and isolation. When we consider emergency physicians and other healthcare professionals, technical and scientific challenges regarding the pandemic response are also added to the equation.

Recently we completed three months since the first case of COVID-19 in Brazil and, since then, more than 300.000 have been infected and at least 23.000 people have died. These astonishing numbers could be 8 to 10 times higher if it wasn’t for under-notification¹ in countryside areas. The psychological effect of these numbers can be seen every day while people try to cope with the situation, and it may be even more intense in those who are in the frontline of the healthcare system. With this in mind, the question emerges: Who takes care of you while you take care of others?

What are the major psychological symptoms we can expect in healthcare providers three months into the COVID-19 pandemic?

After 3 months of COVID-19, we are not dealing with acute and immediate psychological response anymore; this next phase can be called assimilation, where we already understand better the new workflows, protocols and forms of living. However, we are still in a context of insecurity, fear, and loss of control over things we used to know how to deal with. The major psychological symptoms that are expected and considered to be normal in this context are:2

  • Fear (of getting sick and dying, losing people, being socially stigmatized, being separated from people you care about and transmitting the virus to other people);
  • Stress reactions such as anger, anxiety, confusional states, apathy
  • The recurrent feeling of impotence, irritability, anguish, and sadness;
  • Behavioral changes: changes in appetite and sleep habits, and interpersonal conflicts

Which strategies we can use to minimize these effects?

It’s very important to understand these reactions as being normal reactions in the context we currently live in. However, that doesn’t mean there is nothing we can do to ease them. It’s very important to intervene as early as possible as a way to prevent the chronification of those symptoms and progression to psychological disorders. Here are some strategies that can help2:

  • Recognize these feelings and accept them as real and valid; try to talk about them with people you trust
  • Think back to the strategies and tools you used in moments of crisis in the past. When it comes to dealing with difficulties, everybody has some preferred methods, which were tried and worked. Resume those actions that have worked for you and try to find ways of applying them to this new context
  • Keep your social network active by establishing -even if virtual- contact with family, friends, and colleagues,
  • Avoid watching, reading or listening to news that makes you feel anxious or distressed; look for information only from reliable sources
  • Avoid using alcohol and drugs as coping mechanisms
  • Ask for help if you find your strategies inefficient

There are lots of health professionals who are self-isolating from their families to prevent “bringing the enemy home”. How can self-isolation affect our mental health?

Isolating from family and friends means physically isolating from your support network. It’s relevant, in this context, to understand that physical isolation doesn’t mean affective and emotional isolation. As said before, it’s important to find new ways to be present in people’s lives and keep the social network active. Maintaining these contacts is also a way to ensure that when you leave the hospital and arrive at your rest place, you can actually disconnect from the routine and difficult times by talking to family members and listening about their day, their stories, and so on. In this moment of isolation and fear, we also witness the stigmatization of healthcare professionals3. People can direct their feelings of fear and uncertainty at health professionals, potentially causing behaviors of avoidance, rejection, aggressiveness and violence. If you find yourself in this situation, it’s key to understand that these reactions are not directed towards you personally, but to the global state of insecurity and fear, we are currently living.

Have you seen any changes in the problem-solving and decision-making capabilities of the physicians in the ED due to the stressed environment?

Interpersonal conflict, due to constant changes in protocols and workflows is expected in times of crisis and might be affecting problem-solving and decision-making processes. Here are some strategies to prevent it:

  • Try to maintain a supportive work environment, including designated spaces to eat and rest
  • Have moments to let the team talk about their mental state to help to develop a sense of community
  • Alternate workers between activities of high and low attention and tension, if possible,
  • Recognize effort made and encourage mutual respect among professionals
  • Map and disseminate mental health care actions. Even if most workers will not need individual assistance, knowing that there are services that they can rely on when needed makes them feel supported

Finally, do you have any special tips for emergency physicians who are in the frontline against COVID-19 at this moment?

It’s important to know and to understand when the frequency and intensity of the normal symptoms indicate that you should see a specialized mental health professional.2

  • Persistent symptoms
  • Intense suffering
  • Risk of complications, especially suicidal ideation and substance abuse
  • Significant impairment of social and daily functioning
  • Significant difficulties in family, social or work life
  • Major depression, psychosis, and PTSD are conditions that require specialized attention

We know that healthcare workers bear considerable suffering and symptoms, but usually, this group of people refuses to seek or receive help. Among others, the main reason is that having difficulties to deal with all the emotional demands is -wrongly- seen as a sign of weakness or incompetence. At this moment, it’s more important than ever to understand that we can only take care of others if we, first, take care of ourselves. And taking care of our mental health is as important as our physical health to be at the front lines of COVID-19 response.

Gabriele H. Gomes

Psychologist, current Critical Care & Emergency Psychology Resident at Hospital de Clínicas de Porto Alegre (HCPA)

References and Further Reading (Portuguese only)

Cite this article as: Arthur Martins, Brasil, "Who Takes Care of You While You Take Care of Others?," in International Emergency Medicine Education Project, August 5, 2020, https://iem-student.org/2020/08/05/who-takes-care-of-you-while-you-take-care-of-others/, date accessed: August 8, 2020

COVID-19; Reflecting on a Globalized Response

COVID-19; Reflecting on a Globalized Response

As I write this is, it has been 200 days since the first reports in China came out regarding an unspecified viral illness in Wuhan, China. What is now the pandemic of COVID-19 has spread around the world, and in history books and our collective memory, the year 2020 will forever be closely associated with this virus. There have been nearly 14 million confirmed cases around the world and nearly 600,000 known deaths from COVID-19. Some countries have done incredibly well with containment measures, while others continue to see case counts grow every day.

It has been fascinating to see how the outbreak has had different impacts in communities around the world, including how local and global responses have efficiently controlled or been unable to contain this novel public health problem. Prevention and mitigation strategies continue to form the foundation of public health management of this outbreak. The capacity for any country or locality to provide the most invasive supportive care is widely variable, and even when it is available mechanical ventilation is certainly not a panacea as COVID-19 case-survival rates in those being mechanically ventilated have been low (from 14% to 25%).

At the core of the variable outcomes seems to be a mix of sociological issues: a mix of personal beliefs, geography, politics, socio-economics and health infrastructure which lead to vastly different outcomes around the globe.

The accumulation of more epidemiological data over the past 200 days has improved our collective understanding of the COVID-19 virus, as today we have improved models and a better understanding of the rates of asymptomatic carriers (estimated at 40%) and mortality rates (1.4%-15.4%). Yet still, uncertainties and local variability (even within countries) have made an accurate calculation of the COVID-19 basic reproductive number (R0; the number of people who are infected by a single disease carrier) difficult. In the early stage of the outbreak in Wuhan, R0 calculation ranged from 1.4-5.7, and some have suggested that instead of single R0 value, modellers should consider using ongoing contact tracing to gain a better range of transmissibility values.

We have seen how prevention strategies such as hand-washing, face-masking, and physical distancing can impact local and disseminated disease spread. While many communities have come together through a collective approach to lock-downs and universal masking measures, other localities have struggled to get adequate levels of citizen compliance. Others have struggled with obtaining testing supplies. Certain political systems allow for streamlined and unified directives while others have made it difficult to provide adequate centralized coordination.

As the COVID-19 pandemic has spread to almost every country in the world, outbreaks are smoldering in much of the global south. While the United States continues to see rising numbers of cases with numerous states confronting ongoing daily record high incident cases, other countries such as Brazil are seeing similar upward trends. At the global level, the curve of daily incident cases seemed to have “flattened” and held steady through much of April and into May with aggressive seemingly worldwide measures. However, since the last days of May, global incident cases have been again steadily increasing. This is likely due to a variety of reasons but is linked, at least in part, to efforts to reopen economies and return to pre-pandemic routines and lifestyles.

covid-19 daily cases
Source: Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/map.html, accessed July 17, 2020

As an American citizen and a physician with training in public health, it has been both interesting and frustrating to see the how some countries (including my own) have had deficiencies in dealing with testing and basic prevention (such as mandatory universal masking). While I don’t want to engage in political rhetoric or cast blame in any one place, I do think it is instructive to point out that in the United States (or anywhere else for that matter) the sociological factors of personal preferences and autonomy, geography, and local politics have had an overwhelming influence in determining the progress of the pandemic.

Quarantining has always been a unique problem that sits at the intersection of personal autonomy and communal wellbeing, and is implemented and respected by citizens in different ways around the world. It would seem, at least anecdotally, that cultures with an emphasis on personal independence and autonomous choice have had greater difficulty with containment or in obtaining high levels of compliance with masking and distancing measures, even when compared to other localities with similar socio-economic situations.

These sociological factors are key to responding to and managing any epidemic health concern. We have come to see that in our globalized world, our ability and desire to work together towards a common goal, even at the cost of personal sacrifice, will determine our ability to control both the COVID-19 pandemic and the next health crisis of the future.

Public health education and communication, it would seem, is at the crux to getting collective buy-in and global participation.

Unfortunately, as with so many things these days, such issues can be easily politicized and cause fractured and disparate approaches to response. In our globalized world, this coronavirus outbreak is unlikely to be the last public health crisis we must face as a worldwide community.

As thoughts turn towards what is to come, from vaccine development and distribution to numerous long-term economic impacts, we are not nearing the end of this outbreak yet.

The incidence curve is growing, and there is much work left to be done. My hope is that as we move into the second half of 2020, our global community can continue to find ways to improve communication and coordination in order to come together to approach and control this pandemic collectively. The fate of this outbreak, and likely the next, hangs in the balance.

Cite this article as: J. Austin Lee, USA, "COVID-19; Reflecting on a Globalized Response," in International Emergency Medicine Education Project, August 3, 2020, https://iem-student.org/2020/08/03/covid-19-reflecting-on-a-globalized-response/, date accessed: August 8, 2020

Question Of The Day #6

question of the day
sepsis abdominal pain

Which of the following is the most likely cause of this patient’s condition?

  • A) Cardiogenic shock
  • B) Obstructive shock
  • C) Distributive shock
  • D) Hypovolemic shock

This patient is in septic shock due to ascending cholangitis. Shock is a condition where the body is unable to deliver adequate perfusion to meet metabolic demands. Shock is often characterized by multiorgan dysfunction and hemodynamic changes (i.e. tachycardia, hypotension). Ascending cholangitis is a serious diagnosis that carries high mortality without prompt treatment and recognition. Causes of ascending cholangitis include choledocholithiasis, a biliary tract stricture, or compression by malignant disease. Some cases demonstrate Charcot’s Triad (fever, jaundice, right upper quadrant pain) or Reynolds’ Pentad (Charcot’s triad plus shock and altered mental status). This patient meets all 5 criteria of Reynolds’ Pentad. Rather than a gallstone obstructing the biliary tree, this patient has an underlying malignancy that is obstructing biliary outflow (hinted by weight loss and progressive jaundice over 3 months). Treatment includes antibiotics, IV fluids, and surgical management. The elevated white blood cell count, fever, history, and physical exam support the diagnosis of septic shock. Cardiogenic shock (Choice A) would be more likely in a patient with known baseline cardiac disease, a patient complaining of chest pain or shortness of breath, low ejection fraction seen on echocardiogram, and cold distal extremities. Conditions that can cause cardiogenic shock include STEMI, CHF, and myocarditis. Obstructive shock (Choice B) is seen in conditions, such as pulmonary embolism, tension pneumothorax, or cardiac tamponade. The patient’s history and physical do not support this diagnosis. Hypovolemic shock (Choice D) can be caused by severe dehydration or hemorrhagic shock (a type of hypovolemic shock). This patient likely has some component of dehydration, but septic shock is the primary condition in this patient. Septic shock is a form of Distributive shock (Choice C). Anaphylactic shock also is a type of Distributive shock. Correct Answer: C

References

Nicks BA, Gaillard JP. Approach to Nontraumatic Shock. “Chapter 12: Approach to Nontraumatic Shock”. In: Tintinalli JE, Ma O, Yealy DM, Meckler GD, Stapczynski J, Cline DM, Thomas SH. eds. Tintinalli’s Emergency Medicine: A Comprehensive Study Guide, 9th ed. McGraw-Hill.

Donaldson, R. (2020, May 2). Ascending cholangitis. WikEm. https://www.wikem.org/wiki/Ascending_cholangitis

Cite this article as: Joseph Ciano, USA, "Question Of The Day #6," in International Emergency Medicine Education Project, July 31, 2020, https://iem-student.org/2020/07/31/question-of-the-day-6/, date accessed: August 8, 2020

Better Decisions

Better Decisions

Why is a physician working in the Achham district of Nepal worried when he finds that a patient tested positive for HIV, but a physician working in Humla district is worried but also skeptical? Why do we generally not prescribe high dose IV Vitamin C + Thiamine + Hydrocortisone when the combination has shown to provide a substantial mortality benefit in sepsis? Why do we encourage a patient, very rightly so, to get flu shots every year?

When making decisions, we think, we use our knowledge, weigh pros and cons, and make a choice. The variables, whose salient feature is that we barely think of them, are biases and heuristics. We are influenced by various medical journals we read, colleagues we work with, and even movies and advertisements we watch. Another, sometimes lethal feature of these decision influencers is that their influence is inversely proportional to the time we have to make a choice. This becomes relevant in ED, where split-second decisions are the norm.

So how do we make decisions that are backed more by studies and less by our implicit biases? How do we compare two tests that measure the same variable or two vaccines that work against the same infectious agent? There comes the role of statistics. Every physician, especially those making life-saving decisions in a fraction of seconds, should have an intuitive understanding of medical statistics. This will help us make decisions that are backed by our best understanding and understand our limitations.

Achham district of Nepal has the highest prevalence of HIV/AIDS in the country. When the disease’s prevalence is high, the chance that your patient has the disease given the positive result is high. This is the Positive Predictive Value (PPV). The same physician would want to re-run the test on asymptomatic patients if the test was negative. That is because, given the high prevalence, the Negative Predictive Value (NPV) of the test is low. One would also worry about the sensitivity and specificity of the test in question. Although these are properties intrinsic to the test and do not change with the prevalence of a disease in a population, their knowledge adds to the confidence with which we can prescribe a test to a patient.

One way of thinking about sensitivity is: among 100 diseased patients, how many will the test identify? You would want your screening test to have very high sensitivity so that you do not miss any diseased person. Specificity can be thought of as: among 100 healthy patients, how many will the test identify as negative for the disease? If a highly specific test tells you that a patient has a disease, chances are – he does. So the worried physician of Achham district probably used a very sensitive test and followed it with a highly specific test to confirm before talking to the patient about the result.

We encourage all patients to get the flu vaccine every year because of something called the Number Needed to Treat (NNT). It is the number of patients you need to treat to prevent one additional bad outcome e.g., severe flu, death, etc. Every 12 – 37 flu shots prevent one healthy adult from influenza when the vaccine is well-matched. That means the NNT of the flu vaccine is 12 to 37. [1]

The combination of high dose IV vitamin C + Thiamine + Hydrocortisone had shown to provide a substantial mortality benefit in a small retrospective study in 2016. We generally do not prescribe this in sepsis because we do not have a large RCT that supports the claim yet. The GRADE working group suggests a system for grading the quality of evidence. [2] When we say that evidence is graded 1A or 3B, we are commenting on the type, quality, and the number of studies that back the claim. Familiarizing ourselves with the grading system and hierarchy of evidence can be a good start in the world of evidence-based medicine.

References

  1. Kolber MR, Lau D, Eurich D, Korownyk C. Effectiveness of the trivalent influenza vaccine. Can Fam Physician. 2014;60(1):50.
  2. Petrisor B, Bhandari M. The hierarchy of evidence: Levels and grades of recommendation. Indian J Orthop. 2007;41(1):11-15. doi:10.4103/0019-5413.30519
Cite this article as: Sajan Acharya, Nepal, "Better Decisions," in International Emergency Medicine Education Project, July 27, 2020, https://iem-student.org/2020/07/27/better-decisions/, date accessed: August 8, 2020

The Kawasaki Disease Enigma Continues 150 years Later

kawasaki disease

Kawasaki disease (KD), or mucocutaneous lymph nodes syndrome is an immune-mediated inflammation in the walls of medium-sized arteries throughout the body. It’s complications result in the coronary arteries expanding, heart attacks, and premature death.

As the leading cause of heart disease in North American and Japanese children, KD continues to bewilder clinicians and researchers – even in the midst of a global pandemic. Possible links to SARS-CoV2 has even stirred uneasiness in patients, and physicians making diagnoses.

Beginning in Victorian-era England, a young boy presented to the doctor’s office with symptoms suggestive of scarlet fever; however, noticing heart disease in this child was just baffling. Despite being unaware of this rare disease, it was beyond physicians at the time; since then, progress has been limited as clinicians still fail to comprehend the disease’s root cause.

Dating back to 1874, KD was discovered by Samuel Gee while he was dissecting the cadaver of a seven-year-old boy.

He noticed something strange, “The pericardium was natural. The heart natural in size, and the valves healthy. The coronary arteries were dilated into aneurysms at three places, namely, at the apex of the heart a small aneurysm the size of a pea; at the base of the right ventricle, close to the tip of the right auricular appendix, and near to the mouth of one of the coronary arteries, another aneurysm of the same size; and at the back of the heart, at the base of the ventricles, and in the sulcus between the ventricles, a third aneurysm the size of a horse bean. These aneurysms contained small recent clots, quite loose. The aorta near the valves, and the aortic cusp of the mitral valve, presented specks of atheroma.

From his autopsy, evident was that Gee found aneurysms in the coronary arteries running across the surface of the boy’s heart. He then placed the specimen in a jar and provided it to the Barts Pathology Museum in London. Little did he know, that his specimen marked evidence of the earliest recorded case of KD and sparked worldwide medical curiosity. Unfortunately, when physicians 100 years later were hoping to retrieve samples from the specimen containing the boy’s heart, they were informed that it was missing.

A few years later, the disease was recognized in 1967 by the Japanese physician, Tomikasu Kawasaki. Although some researchers claimed the virus was unknown, others stated KD resulted from a bacterial or fungal toxin. The windborne theory suggested that the disease was seasonal, and as such, the direction of the swaying wind played a role in infection. Others stated that since children’s immune systems are still developing and since they have just lost the protective antibodies from their mothers, they are susceptible to infection. Therefore, in Asian American household’s diets rich in soy put Asian children at greater risk due to the isoflavones. In the 1980s, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suspected chemicals as the cause of KD, inferring that disease stems from agents that trigger an overreaction of the patient’s immune system. No one knew exactly what the mechanism or cause of KD was, although many scientists speculated some theories.

Over the last decade, significant progress toward understanding the pathogenesis, history, and therapeutic interventions of KD has been fruitful. Treatment aimed at the intravenous infusion of gamma globulin antibodies derived from the plasma of blood donations has helped children recover. In contrast, other therapies of corticosteroids for immunoglobulin-resistant patients and tumor inhibitors such as etanercept, infliximab, and cyclosporin A have been other medications providing relief.

The most significant clinical debate was over the possible link between the rash and the cardiac complications seen in Asian American children. Factors responsible for KD were introduced into Japan after World War II and re-emerged in a more virulent form spreading through the industrialized Western world. Advancements in medicine, improvements in healthcare, and, notably, the use of antibiotics reduced the burden of rash and fever illnesses significantly allowing KD to be recognized as a distinct clinical entity.

Nonetheless, the enigma pervades even during the COVID19 pandemic; this time, more pressing as the ever-elusive cause of KD that troubles children’s hearts affects physicians’ sleep and worries parents’ minds. Although the story of Kawasaki disease began decades ago when a young boy’s heart was locked inside a glass specimen, its ending is still being crafted. By the time the heart is found again at the museum, and placed safely for visitors treasuring ancient history, what further knowledge and progress will the scientific community have achieved? How far will humanity have come to find answers to KD and fill in the perplexing missing piece of the puzzle?

For now, there are no answers, but the enigma continues…

Cite this article as: Leah Sarah Peer, Canada, "The Kawasaki Disease Enigma Continues 150 years Later," in International Emergency Medicine Education Project, July 24, 2020, https://iem-student.org/2020/07/24/kawasaki-disease-enigma-continues/, date accessed: August 8, 2020

References and Further Reading

Question Of The Day #5

question of the day
qod 5 trauma

Which of the following is the most appropriate next step in management for this patient‘s condition?

  • A) Order CT scan of abdomen and pelvis
  • B) Perform Diagnostic Peritoneal Lavage (DPL)
  • C) Call surgery team for exploratory laparotomy
  • D) Perform emergent thoracotomy

This patient has sustained blunt abdominal trauma from his seat belt. This is indicated by the linear area of ecchymoses, known as a “seat belt sign”. This is a worrisome physical exam finding that should raise a concern about a severe intra-abdominal injury. All trauma patients presenting to the emergency department should be assessed using an organized approach, including a primary survey (“ABCs”) followed by a secondary survey (more detailed physical examination). The FAST (Focused Assessment with Sonography in Trauma) examination is part of the primary survey in a trauma patient. Some sources abbreviate the primary survey in trauma as “ABCDEF”, which stands for Airway, Breathing, Circulation, Disability, Exposure, FAST exam. The primary survey attempts to identify any life-threatening diagnoses that need to be addressed in a time-sensitive manner. Examples include cardiac tamponade, tension pneumothorax, and intra-abdominal bleeding. The FAST exam includes 4 basic views: the right upper quadrant view (liver and right kidney), pelvis view (bladder), left upper quadrant view (spleen and left kidney), and cardiac/subxiphoid view (heart). An E-FAST, or extended FAST, includes the four standard FAST views plus bilateral views of the lungs to evaluate for pneumothorax. An abnormal FAST exam demonstrates the presence of free fluid on ultrasound. In the setting of trauma, free fluid is assumed to be blood. Free fluid on ultrasound appears black, or anechoic (indicated by yellow arrows in below image).

question of the day 5 trauma

The space between the liver and right kidney (“Morrison’s Pouch”) is often the first location or blood to accumulate in a patient with intra-abdominal bleeding. Trauma patients who are hemodynamically unstable with a positive FAST exam (this patient) should go to the operating room for emergent exploratory laparotomy (Choice C) to determine the source of their bleeding. Performing a CT scan of the abdomen and pelvis (Choice A) would be the correct answer if the patient was hemodynamically stable and had a positive FAST exam. Allowing this patient to leave the emergency department for a CT scan would be dangerous as this patient could rapidly decompensate. Performing a Diagnostic Peritoneal Lavage (Choice B) would be the correct answer if the patient was hemodynamically stable but had a normal FAST exam. An emergent thoracotomy (Choice D) is more typically performed in patients with penetrating trauma who have cardiac arrest shortly before presenting to the emergency department. This intervention attempts to identify and treat any reversible causes of cardiac arrest. Correct Answer: C

References

Butler, M. (2015). “Boring question: What is the role of the FAST exam for blunt abdominal trauma?” Canadiem. https://canadiem.org/boring-question-what-is-the-role-of-the-fast-exam-for-blunt-abdominal-trauma/

Franzen, D. (2016). “FAST examination”. SAEM. https://www.saem.org/cdem/education/online-education/m3-curriculum/bedside-ultrasonagraphy/fast-exam

Cite this article as: Joseph Ciano, USA, "Question Of The Day #5," in International Emergency Medicine Education Project, July 22, 2020, https://iem-student.org/2020/07/22/question-of-the-day-5/, date accessed: August 8, 2020

Knee Jerk, Shotgun and Kitchen Sink in Emergency Medicine

Knee Jerk, Shotgun and Kitchen Sink in Emergency Medicine

For a trainee in EM, it is useful to know about three types of cognitive practice that require caution.

While a knee jerk reaction may sometimes save time, a shotgun investigation may improve billing and a kitchen sink therapy may create the illusion of therapeutic rigor, arguably that’s all there is to it.

In reality, there is not much true value to any of these three missed approaches.

We will look at each one with a few examples and then briefly discuss below.

Knee Jerk

When I was rotating in the ED as an MS4, a visiting EM attending once told me that “adding a Type and Rh should become a knee jerk” for any patient with vaginal bleeding in early pregnancy. Whether or not taking the extra 30 seconds to scroll through the EMR for a previously documented Rh likely to be on file is a better strategy, this one is fairly simple.

Not all of our knee jerk reactions are equally simple or harmless.

I have seen adenosine being pushed before one could say “Mama” for anything from sinus tach to atrial flutter and A-fib with RVR: paramedics, physicians and even unsupervised nurses all being equally guilty. Why? Because a sustained heart rate above 180 is scary to some. And the reflex is to do something quickly because we don’t like to remain scared.

Nursing staff going straight for IV placement while forgetting not only the basic ABCs of resuscitation but even to disrobe the patient is another example. Starting any patient at 100% oxygen saturation who is short of breath on nasal cannula oxygen is yet another.

We like to do what we are trained to do well and/or what is easy. Our brains then compel us to prioritize doing it.

Once my ED team halted a verbal order for a whopping dose of colchicine blurted out to nursing by a careless consulting cardiology fellow – the patient had mentioned his ankle pain to the fellow in passing. The man was in acute renal failure and ended up with a septic ankle joint diagnosed later. Knee jerk is in part responsible for well-perpetuated ED mental formulas such as “gout = colchicine”, “fever = paracetamol”, “wheezing = albuterol” and “hypotension = 2 liter IV fluid bolus”.

The knee jerk is how we pick from our favorite antibiotics and how we generally prescribe, how we diagnose and order things on lobby and triage patients and how we even decide on CT scans and dispositions. Frequently, our hospitalist medicine colleagues will utilize the same reflex and unnecessarily or prematurely consult specialists.

On occasion, when the arrow released via a knee jerk reaction hits the bull’s eye, it feels and looks great. Knee jerk, unfortunately, is also how we assume, stereotype, over-simplify, ignore and ultimately miss.

Shotgun

This one does not have to be shot from the hip, though it certainly looks cooler that way. Often this is done thoughtfully, with a pseudo-scientific aroma to it.

I was on my MS3 internal medicine rotation when one day, the dreaded ED handed us an elderly female with a congratulatory thick paper chart, a bouquet of vague complaints and no clear diagnosis. When I asked my senior resident what we should do, the answer was a shoulder shrug and a confident “Lab ‘er up!”.

Shotgunning is not just about shooting out labs in the dark, however. It usually refers to a much wider “strategy” (actually, a lack thereof) of checking anyone for “anything” so as to not miss “something”.

Consider an ED evaluation of a headache involving some component of facial pain. Let’s order a migraine cocktail, CT and CTA of the head and neck, ESR to check for temporal arteritis; and when we find nothing, let’s do antibiotics in case of possible dental caries, otitis, mastoiditis or sinusitis. Sounds pretty thorough and terrific, doesn’t it? In fact, many patients would tend to think so. Clearly, after all that, we just could not miss something real badTM. We should remember that in EM you are worth every test that you order.

Hyperlaboratoremia and panscanosis are not the only clinical manifestations of the shotgun approach.

Though in all places, it is well-intended, there is a more buried shotgun in standardized chest pain workups, ED triage scales, pre-conceived clinical pathways and universal screenings than you may think.

Kitchen Sink

One might say that kitchen sink is the therapeutic twin of shotgun diagnostics, though one does not need to stem from the other.

The kitchen sink is how you and I treat most non-threatening and hence not easily identifiable ED rashes. As one of my professors once said: the rule of dermatology is that “if it is dry, use a wetting agent, if it is wet, use a drying agent, plus steroids and antibiotics for everyone”.

At its core, any kitchen sink approach violates two key pillars of modern medicine – evidence-based practice and personalized therapy.

Another example is the kitchen sink phase of resuscitation in a soon to be aborted CPR effort. While in the beginning, we do tend to follow certain parameters and algorithms, towards the end and well into the “futile” stage of CPR remedies like calcium, magnesium, bicarbonate, second and third anti-arrhythmic and so on all inevitably flow one after another regardless of the suspected cause of cardiac arrest or objective facts known.

While benign rashes are benign, and futile CPR is futile, most of the kitchen sink does not involve such obvious extremes. In fact, some of it is perfectly legitimized and even justified – have you ever thought of what “broad-spectrum antibiotics” in sepsis really implies?

Reasons For Need To Know

Why is knowing about the knee jerk, the shotgun and the kitchen sink ahead of time important?

First, the cognitive action patterns described are unavoidable and inescapable. It is precise because we will not be able to fully stop using all three on occasion, that we should know about them ahead of time.

Second, there is something positive and well-thought-out corresponding to the other side of each of the three behaviors:

Fundamentally, knee-jerk reactions rest on pattern recognition as the predominant cognitive pathway at work – something that physicians start to rely upon more and more as they mature. While risking the error of premature diagnostic closure (among others), pattern recognition does save time and resources. This mode is why, as some studies suggest, senior-most providers may be more effective in triage.

On the opposing side of the shotgun coin are the well-accepted mantras of keeping one’s differentials broad and of thinking outside the box. Such forced mental efforts help avoid anchoring among other cognitive errors.

Last, kitchen sink elements may indeed be acceptable in salvage type of situations or in uncharted waters, given multiple paucities in our scientific evidence and in our full understanding of physiologic processes. In such select cases, we humbly admit our limits and hope that something unknown may work at the last minute, while there is no further harm that can be done.

It would be a mistake, however, to confuse each of the positives described with the three patterns we started with when taken in their pure form.

Third, the limitations and harms encountered by not keeping the three tendencies in check are real and immediate:

  • Knee-jerk reactions do not yield beneficial results when the situation encountered is new and principally different from those experienced before, yet it has the external appearance of something familiar. Think of COVID.
  • Shotgun-galore practices subject multiple patients to unnecessary tests and to potentially harmful procedures and interventions that inevitably follow, further inflating the costs of healthcare.
  • Perpetuating myths and unmerited traditional practices, kitchen sink therapies also coach our patients into expecting both the unreasonable and the unnecessary for the next visit, undermining any accepted standard of care at its very core.

What Next?

A more in-depth discussion of all three phenomena presented would indeed be appropriate, including an investigation into any viable alternatives.

For now, I encourage all trainees to look further into the general and well-researched topic of cognitive errors in emergency medicine. 

We should also all strive to practice based on best available evidence and not to be coerced into questionable behaviors by external pressures such as performance metrics that may lurk as false substitutes for quality.

References and Further Reading

  • Frye KL, Adewale A, Martinez Martinez CJ, Mora Montero C. Cognitive Errors and Risks Associated with Provider Handoffs. Cureus. 2018;10(10):e3442. Published 2018 Oct 12. doi:10.7759/cureus.3442
  • Oliver G, Oliver G, Body R. BET 2: Poor evidence on whether teaching cognitive debiasing, or cognitive forcing strategies, lead to a reduction in errors attributable to cognition in emergency medicine students or doctors. Emerg Med J. 2017;34(8):553-554. doi:10.1136/emermed-2017-206976.2
  • Schnapp BH, Sun JE, Kim JL, Strayer RJ, Shah KH. Cognitive error in an academic emergency department. Diagnosis (Berl). 2018;5(3):135-142. doi:10.1515/dx-2018-0011
Cite this article as: Anthony Rodigin, USA, "Knee Jerk, Shotgun and Kitchen Sink in Emergency Medicine," in International Emergency Medicine Education Project, July 20, 2020, https://iem-student.org/2020/07/20/knee-jerk-shotgun-and-kitchen-sink-in-emergency-medicine/, date accessed: August 8, 2020

Can I Eat This? – A Helpful Guide To Plant Toxicology – Cardiac Glycosides

CARDIAC GLYCOSIDES

Not only is the identification of toxic plants from their gross appearance a commonly tested topic in Emergency Medicine Board Exams, but it is also a necessary skill for doctors operating in institutions where an established Toxicology division does not exist or where the opinion of a specialist in the field is not immediately available.

This is the second part in a series of blog posts dedicated to providing you with original mnemonics and visual aids that serve to highlight a few classes of common toxic plants prominent for both their inclusion in the academic assessment as well as their prevalence in the community. These memory tools will attempt to highlight key features in the identification of well-known toxic plant species and are designed to aid clinicians from various regions of the globe as well as hone the skills of aspiring toxicologists.

Picture the Scene

A 21-year-old female is brought to your Emergency Department via ambulance due to persistent vomiting, abdominal pain, and some dizziness. She is visibly distressed, clutching her stomach, and reports having vomited at least six times over the past 3 hours. Her brother reports that she had been feeling ill with reported abdominal cramping and diarrhea for the past two days. Earlier that day, she had been given some herbal soup to help with her abdominal cramps by her grandmother, who had prepared it using leaves and flowers from the backyard garden. Soon after drinking the soup, the patient was reported to have multiple episodes of vomiting and began to experience some occasional dizziness, prompting contact of Emergency Medical Services and transfer to the hospital.

Upon initial examination, the patient’s vital signs were significant for a heart rate of 50 beats/minute with a Blood Pressure of 135/76 and spO2 of 95% on room air. No fever, abnormal breathing patterns, or signs of poor perfusion were noted. An Electrocardiogram (ECG) was done and revealed bradycardia, with a first-degree AV block, but no other T wave, QT, ST, or QRS segment abnormalities.

A laboratory workup was initiated, and the patient was given IV Atropine for her bradycardia. A Venous Blood Gas (VBG) was remarkable for hyperkalemia of 6.8 mEq/L with no acid/base disturbance. Therefore, treatment for hyperkalemia was initiated with IV Dextrose and Insulin as per standard management. When bradycardia persisted, a second dose of IV Atropine was given. The patient’s heart rate improved, but the blood pressure was noted to drop down to 95/68. After that, IV fluids were initiated, and the possibility of toxic ingestion explored by asking the patient’s brother for details of the ingredients present in the herbal soup.

The brother contacted the family at home and provided a picture of the plant used, as shown in Figure 1. The in-house Medical Toxicologist was shown the image and confirmed that the patient was suffering from Cardiac Glycoside toxicity secondary to the ingestion of an Oleander plant species.

Figure 1- Photograph of the flower used to make herbal soup. The flower was correctly identified as part of the toxic Oleander species.

Overview of Cardiac Glycoside Toxicity

Cardiac glycosides and related cardenolides represent a group of compounds that exhibit their effects primarily through their action on the Sodium-Potassium (Na+/K+) ATPase pump in cardiac myocytes and other tissues.[1] Inhibition of this pump, as outlined in Figure 2, causes an increase in intracellular Sodium (Na+), with subsequent activation of the Sodium-Calcium (Na+/Ca2+) exchanger, resulting in accumulation of intracellular calcium (Ca2+).

The increased intracellular Ca2+, along with direct stimulation of vagal tone, produces inotropic effects on the heart, increases ventricular ectopy, causes bradycardia, and impaired conduction through the atrioventricular (AV) node. At the same time, the inhibition of the Na+/K+ ATPase pump can lead to hyperkalemia.[2]

Cardiac glycosides are found in a variety of naturally occurring plant and animal species. Acute poisoning often presents with gastrointestinal manifestations (such as nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain or diarrhea), generalized body weakness, and dizziness. However, toxicity can also cause hyperkalemia and cardiotoxicity, represented by bradycardia, heart blocks, and various other dysrhythmias. Death is usually a result of ventricular fibrillation or tachycardia.[3]

Management involves addressing specific symptoms of severe disease. Atropine can be used to increase heart rate and reverse the effects on vagal tone in patients presenting with bradycardia. Reversal of toxicity can be achieved using Anti‐digoxin Fab as with Digoxin overdoses. Hyperkalemia can be managed using a combination of Insulin and dextrose solution to shift potassium back into cells. Activated charcoal may be used for initial decontamination, with Multidose activated charcoal for enhanced elimination.[4]

IV Calcium Chloride or Carbonate use in hyperkalemia was traditionally discouraged in patients suffering from cardiac glycoside poisoning. This was due to concerns that the additional calcium load would result in sustained cardiac contraction, termed as ‘the stone heart.’ However, several studies have since proven that such a phenomenon is unlikely to manifest in patients treated with IV Calcium.[5]

calcium mechanism

Figure 2- Mechanism of action of cardiac glycosides/digitalis drugs

Identifying Plants with Cardiac Glycoside toxicity

The most prominent species of plants known to contain cardiac glycosides include the foxglove plants Digitalis purpurea and Digitalis lanata, Oleander species (e.g., Nerium oleander and Thevetia peruviana), and Lily of the Valley (Convallaria majalis).[6] These plant species are commonly found in numerous tropical and subtropical countries around the world. Unfortunately, toxicity from accidental or intentional ingestion of their toxic leaves, roots, stems, and seeds is not uncommon and has, in several cases, lead to fatal outcomes for patients.[7-11]

cardiac glycosides plant identification

References and Further Reading

  1. Lingrel J. B. (2010). The physiological significance of the cardiotonic steroid/ouabain-binding site of the Na,K-ATPase. Annual review of physiology, 72, 395–412. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-physiol-021909-135725
  2. Benowitz, N. (2012). ‘Chapter 61- Digoxin and Other Cardiac Glycosides’ Poisoning & drug overdose. New York, N.Y.: McGraw Hill Medical.
  3. Kanji, S., & MacLean, R. D. (2012). Cardiac glycoside toxicity: more than 200 years and counting. Critical care clinics, 28(4), 527–535. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ccc.2012.07.005
  4. Roberts, D. M., Gallapatthy, G., Dunuwille, A., & Chan, B. S. (2016). Pharmacological treatment of cardiac glycoside poisoning. British journal of clinical pharmacology, 81(3), 488–495. https://doi.org/10.1111/bcp.12814
  5. Levine, M., Nikkanen, H., & Pallin, D. J. (2011). The effects of intravenous calcium in patients with digoxin toxicity. The Journal of emergency medicine, 40(1), 41–46. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jemermed.2008.09.027
  6. Hollman A. (1985). Plants and cardiac glycosides. British heart journal, 54(3), 258–261. https://doi.org/10.1136/hrt.54.3.258
  7. Bavunoğlu, I., Balta, M., & Türkmen, Z. (2016). Oleander Poisoning as an Example of Self-Medication Attempt. Balkan medical journal, 33(5), 559–562. https://doi.org/10.5152/balkanmedj.2016.150307
  8. S, Lokesh & Arunkumar.R,. (2013). A clinical study of 30 cases of Acute Yellow Oleander Poisoning. Journal of Current Trends in Clinical Medicine and Laboratory Biochemistry. 1. 29-31.
  9. Haynes, B. E., Bessen, H. A., & Wightman, W. D. (1985). Oleander tea: herbal draught of death. Annals of emergency medicine, 14(4), 350–353. https://doi.org/10.1016/s0196-0644(85)80103-7
  10. Janssen, R. M., Berg, M., & Ovakim, D. H. (2016). Two cases of cardiac glycoside poisoning from accidental foxglove ingestion. CMAJ : Canadian Medical Association journal = journal de l’Association medicale canadienne, 188(10), 747–750. https://doi.org/10.1503/cmaj.150676
  11. McVann, A., Havlik, I., Joubert, P. H., & Monteagudo, F. S. (1992). Cardiac glycoside poisoning involved in deaths from traditional medicines. South African medical journal = Suid-Afrikaanse tydskrif vir geneeskunde, 81(3), 139–141.
Cite this article as: Mohammad Anzal Rehman, UAE, "Can I Eat This? – A Helpful Guide To Plant Toxicology – Cardiac Glycosides," in International Emergency Medicine Education Project, July 17, 2020, https://iem-student.org/2020/07/17/cardiac-glycosides/, date accessed: August 8, 2020

Question Of The Day #4

question of the day
question of the day 4

Which of the following is the most appropriate next step in management for this patient‘s condition?

  • A) Lumbar Puncture
  • B) IV 1000mL 0.9% NaCl
  • C) IV Ceftriaxone
  • D) Non-contrast CT head

This patient describes her headache as severe, sudden-onset, and different than her prior headaches. These clues on history should raise concern for a subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) as the cause of her headache. Choice A (Lumbar Puncture) helps evaluate headaches caused by meningitis, pseudotumor cerebri (idiopathic intracranial hypertension), and SAH. Choice B (IV 1000mL 0.9% NaCl) is sometimes used to treat headaches, like migraines, but this patient should first receive another testing as there is a concern for SAH. Choice C (IV Ceftriaxone) is the correct initial treatment for bacterial meningitis, but this patient has a higher pretest probability for SAH. Choice D (Non-contrast CT head) is the right answer. Non-contrast CT scan of the brain performed within 6 hours of headache onset have high sensitivity to rule out aneurysmal SAH. The sensitivity of the non-contrast CT scan diminishes to 91-93% at 24hours after headache onset and continues to decrease after this to 50% sensitivity at seven days after pain onset. Lumbar puncture is recommended for a patient with a negative CT scan, high pretest probability for SAH, and presentation after 6 hours of headache onset. Findings on Lumbar Puncture that support the diagnosis of SAH include Xanthochromia (yellow appearance of the CSF due to blood breakdown) and inadequate clearing of red blood cells in the CSF between tubes 1 and 4. Treatment for SAH includes blood pressure control, seizure prophylaxis, and neurosurgical consultation, and nimodipine to prevent vasospasm and rebleeding. The Hunt and Hess scoring system can be used to predict clinical outcomes for patients with SAH. Correct Answer: D

Reference

Nelson AM, Mase CA, Ma O. Spontaneous Subarachnoid and Intracerebral Hemorrhage. “Chapter 166: Spontaneous Subarachnoid and Intracerebral Hemorrhage”. In: Tintinalli JE, Ma O, Yealy DM, Meckler GD, Stapczynski J, Cline DM, Thomas SH. eds. Tintinalli’s Emergency Medicine: A Comprehensive Study Guide, 9th ed. McGraw-Hill.

Cite this article as: Joseph Ciano, USA, "Question Of The Day #4," in International Emergency Medicine Education Project, July 15, 2020, https://iem-student.org/2020/07/15/question-of-the-day-3-2/, date accessed: August 8, 2020

Things You Should Know Before Your First ED Shift

Things You Should Know Before Your First ED Shift

I recently posted a question to the Twitterverse:

“Imagine that an Emergency Medicine intern asked you for advice before his/her FIRST SHIFT. What would be your FIRST ADVICE?”

I also raised the same question in Turkish. In a couple of days, I received nearly 100 answers from reputable names of Emergency Medicine working worldwide. I highly benefited from these advice, and I think that our site’s valuable readers can also benefit. I tried to select the most inspiring ones and divided them into main categories. Under each advice, you can find the name of the tweet owner and the link to the original tweet. Let’s start.

Core

Enjoy being on the frontline by helping patients who are seeking your help in their most difficult time. This is a great privilege and responsibility that we should never forget.

Arif Alper Cevik (@drcevik) Tweet

Never forget what a privilege and responsibility it is that people don’t know you ask for your help on the WORST DAY OF THEIR LIFE.

In the Emergency Department, you may be worried about 'why am I here?' one day, but you may think that you are doing the best job in the world another day. Now you have a lifetime which every day and every patient is different. Love your profession EVERY WAY, glorify knowledge and skill, and always be at peace with your job.

Education

Never be afraid to say, "I don't know." It's why you're here to be taught. If you already knew everything, then you wouldn't need residency.

Justin Hensley, (@EBMgoneWILD) Tweet

Trust yourself as if you know everything, try to learn as if you know nothing.

Want to get smart? Do 2 things: 1) Read up on at least 1 patient every shift. 2) Ask lots of questions to residents, attendings and consultants.

Feel free to ask me (or another senior) about anything (/everything). When I was at that stage I wish I’d asked more. I suspect some people think asking is a sign of ignorance or weakness. Actually, it helps us to be safe & to appreciate other perspectives.

This is the Emergency Room; this is the lion’s den; first, you have to protect yourself, and you will do this with your knowledge. So don't think ‘I'll practice, I'll fill my knowledge gap in 3-5 months', sit down, and read the textbook.

Göksu Afacan Öztürk (@Goksu_Afacan) Tweet

First compel yourself to read at specific points, and gradually you will find your appetite for reading. You are the one primarily responsible for your education!

Never feel shy to ask or say I don't know. It's your chance to make mistakes and learn, share the knowledge you have and don't keep it to yourself.

Of course, you cannot know everything, but you can start learning.

Ozlem Guneysel (@oguneysel) Tweet

80% of “KNOWLEDGE” is "INTEREST"

Ayhan Özhasenekler (@Aozhasenekler) Tweet
Resilience

Resilience

The Emergency Medicine career is a marathon, not just the first few years of residency. Don't waste your energy inordinately for things you can't fix. Invest in the future self.

When you dance with the bear you can't stop until the bear wants to stop.

Nurettin Özgür Doğan (@DrOzgurDogan) Tweet

Calm down. Every shift eventually ends.

Mustafa Ercan Günel (@mercangu) Tweet

Rest and eat, whenever you get the opportunity. The Emergency Room is like a HIIT, you need to slow down first to speed up.

Burcu Yılmaz (@Burcu_Yilmazzz) Tweet

If you are a parent, sleep when the child sleeps.

Empathy

Empathy

Don’t judge patients or consultants without walking a mile in their shoes.

Think of every patient as your relative. Balance your professional authority with your kindness.

Communication is important. Tell the patient and one of his/her relatives what you already did and what you plan to do, and ask if there is anything they want to ask.

Altuğ Kanbakan (@prothemanes) Tweet

Peter Rosen once said, “Nobody woke up this AM decided to ruin your day.” Happiness is YOUR choice. Be happy, stay positive.

Remember, when you see a patient in the middle of the night who requests you to apply his/her prescribed topical cream on his/her back because –apparently- he/she can’t, that person is the joy of the night.

Follow up on your patients. This will reinforce your learning. Call patients at home to see how they’re doing. They will love it, and it reminds you of why you chose this profession.

Remember to acknowledge that you most likely are a stranger to your patient. It only takes a few minutes to reassure someone that you are there to help them through their ER experience as a team. We tend to forget this in the busy ER.

Values

Values

Nobody expects you to know much (yet). But it is expected you to be 100% reliable. Never EVER EVER EVER lie. If you don’t know something or you don’t do something, be honest.

Your attitude to this advice will determine your path through our specialty. The blindingly following advice will bring as much peril as ignoring it all. Emergency Medicine requires you to consider impacts on patients, professionals & the populations - no one approach fits all.

Damian Roland (@Damian_Roland) Tweet

Never EVER EVER EVER be arrogant. You will be wrong many times in your career. Learn humility NOW.

What I like most about emergency medicine is how it allows us new perspectives every day. In the pandemic, we are treating the same disease all the time, but each patient and their family brings a different story, and every time I feel more humble in the face of life, the disease, and the future. Being in a LIMC country can be so challenging, so painful to treat and suffer along with inequalities and lack of resources... But we have the opportunity to be our best, as I said yesterday to my residents: we don’t have the best hospital, but we can be our best and give the patient what they may not have in the best hospital: treatment with dignity and respect and love. For me, being able to show my patients that I care, and receiving their gratitude has been undoubtedly the only possible prevention of Burnout. So I would say: Our specialty is beautiful, the opportunity for growth is vast, but it takes humility and perseverance to complete this journey.

Jule Santos (@julesantosER) Tweet

Never allow senior residents of other departments to treat you as if you are their junior.

Dr Erdi Kadir Y. (@DrEKYacil) Tweet

Our fingers are not equal, and so are the attendings whose hands you train on are not the same nature. There is the gentle one who loves you and there are critics who believe that development comes only with criticism and a dose of pain. Your job is not to try to classify them but to do what is required of you and to benefit from everyone.

We want you to be the brain of a machine in which none of its cogs can work properly. Sometimes, even if you don't know how to swim, you will find yourself in the ocean surrounded by the waves, but most of the time, in the hardest moments, you will find a huge army with you. Welcome...

Barış Murat Ayvacı (@emresuspack) Tweet

If you think a senior is wrong about something, give him evidence, but don’t be obstinate...

Ali Kaan Ataman (@erdrkaan) Tweet

You may be untutored, but never be uninterested. Because knowledge definitely comes to those who have interest.

Mustafa Ipek (@dr_mustafaipek) Tweet

Appear weak when you are strong and strong when you are weak. Look weak when strong; look strong when weak. Also don't forget to look at vital signs 😉

Osman Avşar Gül (@mefisto_avsar) Tweet

Don’t be a d*ck.

Enjoy your junior days, qualify for your senior days.

Patient Records

Patient Records

(Carefully) Fill out the patient records. What will save you from everything are these records.

Spoken words fly away, written words remain. Record everything...

Şervan Gökhan (@servangokhan) Tweet

What is not written is deemed not done. First, protect yourself and then protect the patient. Choose a good role model.

Ozge Duman Atilla (@ozgedumanatilla) Tweet

Workup

No workup can replace a good physical examination.

Erdal Demirtaş (@Erdal_DD) Tweet

Never order a test that you won’t check the results.

Eyupkaraoglu (@drekaraoglu) Tweet

Know your tests! Know their rough sens/spec and when to trust them (and more importantly, when NOT to trust them)!! No test is 100%, and all are context-dependent!

Elias Jaffa MD MS (@jaffa_md) Tweet

Decision Making

Being efficient should never be at the expense of being thorough. You will eventually have to waste more time making things right.

Danya Khoujah (@DanyaKhoujah) Tweet

If someone brings up a concern, go to the bedside.

Sunny Elagandhala (@elegantdolla) Tweet

Think simple, make a quick decision. Determine the senior you will take as a model.

Ayhan Özhasenekler (@Aozhasenekler) Tweet

Once you suspect about a diagnosis, be sure to rule it out.

Do not forget to consider emergencies and other diseases while focusing on frequent diseases of the period, such as COVID. The most important thing that the emergency doctor needs to do is to look at the case from a wide perspective from the very beginning.

Gaziantep Acil Tıp (@AcilGaziantep) Tweet

Watch out for the last patient who came just before your shift ends.

Meltem Şahin (@onlakonusmayin) Tweet

In emergency medicine [and in life :)] the possibilities are 0% or 100% only in limited scenarios. You need to quickly learn managing probabilities, setting priorities, distinguishing acceptable and unacceptable risks. Also you need to learn reading the environment; because it usually gives many signs before the problem emerges.

Elif Dilek Çakal (@DrEDCakal) Tweet

Patient in the Resus is easy. Spotting the patient with a real emergency in minors is the tough one.

First rule of emergency response is to ensure your own safety!

SALİH KARABULUT (@drskbulut) Tweet

When in doubt or worried about someone, talk to floor senior physicians EARLY.

Rahul Goswami (@Rahul_Goswami_) Tweet

I would say to try your best to remain open-minded and try to be aware of your biases and blindspots. This applies especially to patients with psychiatric illness and substance use disorders. If you're explaining X symptom on Y problem, always ask yourself, "Does this actually make sense?

Elias Jaffa MD MS (@jaffa_md) Tweet

The most frequently overlooked diagnosis in the emergency room is the second diagnosis! Do not limit your perspective to one diagnosis. Most frequently missed fracture in the emergency room? The second one! Remember that the patient may have a second fracture!

Mehmet Ergin (@drmehmetergin) Tweet

While assessing only isolated parts, don’t miss to assess the patient as a whole. Do not evaluate the patient on a single system, single organ basis. Emergency Medicine requires ‘holistic assessment’.

Ayhan Özhasenekler (@Aozhasenekler) Tweet

Discharging

No hospital bed belongs to you. If in doubt, do not discharge the patient.

Haldun Akoglu (@IstanbulEMDoc) Tweet

Do not discharge the patient relying on what someone else is telling you without assessing by yourself!

Emre Salçın (@emresalcin) Tweet

Do not discharge the patient after midnight: You may be tired, you may overlook something, the patient and his relatives may not find a car or money to leave, or they may try to go to the town or another city but have an accident on the road, etc. Those all happened (Not my personal experience, but I have seen them), evidence based...

Ayhan Özhasenekler (@Aozhasenekler) Tweet

Before discharging the patient whose treatment is completed, make sure to think like that: ‘Is there any possibility that this patient will come back with a cardiac arrest before the shift ends?’ If you are hesitant, prolong the process.

The patient at the hospital is better than the patient at home’. Do not discharge if you are not sure.

Belgin Akilli (@AkilliBelgin) Tweet

Team Play

Emergency Medicine is teamwork. Get along well with your colleagues, your nurse, your intern, your staff and your secretary. Find yourself a role model, try to be a good example for others. And enjoy the Emergency Medicine.

Melih İmamoğlu (@melihimam) Tweet

You may learn a lot of thing from your nurse, act like a teammate.

Yusuf Ali Altuncı (@draltunci) Tweet

That’s all for now. By the way, what would your advice be?

Cite this article as: Ibrahim Sarbay, Turkey, "Things You Should Know Before Your First ED Shift," in International Emergency Medicine Education Project, July 13, 2020, https://iem-student.org/2020/07/13/things-you-should-know-before-your-first-ed-shift/, date accessed: August 8, 2020

iEM Monthly – July 2020

july 2020 newsletter

Welcome to the iEM Education Project Monthly Newsletter. We will share the achievements, information about top posts, chapters, activities and future plans of the project.

Recent News

Recent Posts

Top Countries

Top Reads

News

  • We are pleased to open our fourth course for you; iEM/Lecturio – COVID-19 Clinal Readiness Course. As we did in the EMCC course, we collaborated with Lecturio to provide you an excellent course to improve your knowledge in the clinical applications in COVID-19 cases. The interactive course content is prepared by Lecturio’s expert educators Dr. Eisha Chopra, Dr. Julie Rice, Dr. Daniel Sweiden, Dr. Julianna Jung from John Hopkins University, Department of Emergency Medicine. Assessments of the course were prepared by Dr. Arif Alper Cevik from United Arab Emirates University, College of Medicine and Health Sciences. One more time, we thank Lecturio for their amazing resources and support to our social responsibility initiative to help medical students in need during these challenging times. As a part of our social responsibility initiative, iem-course.org will continue to provide free open online courses related to emergency medicine. We hope our courses help you to continue your education during these difficult times. Please send us your feedback or requests about courses.
  • We started a new initiative "Question of the Day." We will share Dr. Joseph Ciano's and other contributors' questions on weekends in Twitter. The detailed explanation of the answer will be provided on Wednesday with a separate blog post.

Blog Posts of June

Top Countries

These countries viewed iEM content the most in June 2020. 

Top Three Chapters of May 2020

How to read chest x-raysby Ozlem Koksal

336.3 - normal PA chest x-ray AIRWAY STRUCTURES

How to read pelvic x-rays, by Sara Nikolić and Gregor Prosen

628.12 - femur neck fx

How to Read C-Spine X-Ray, by Dejvid Ahmetović and Gregor Prosen

626.4 - Figure 4 - c-spine lateral x-ray - alignement

Top Four Post of June 2020