University of Maryland School of Medicine

Department of Emergency Medicine

University of Maryland School of Medicine Department of Emergency Medicine

UMEM Educational Pearls

Scabies is considered by the WHO to be one of the main neglected diseases with approximately 300 million cases worldwide each year. One third of cases of scabies seen by dermatologists are in kids less than 16 years old. The belief had been that presentation varies by age.  One French study reported a first time miss rate of more than 41% and an overall diagnostic delay of 62 days.

A prospective, multi center observational study of patients with confirmed scabies sought to determine common phenotypes in children. All patients were seen by dermatologists in France and administered standard questionnaires.  They were divided into 3 age groups, <2 years, 2-15 years and > 15 years.  323 patients were included.

The study found that: 
-infants were more likely to have facial involvement and nodules, especially on the back and axilla
-relapse was more common in < 15 year olds - this was hypothesized to be due to poor compliance with treatment to the head
-family members with itch, or planter or scalp involvement were independently associated with diagnosis of scabies in kids < 2 years
-burrows were seen in 78%, nodules in 67% and vesicles of 43% of patients (see photo)
-itching was absent in up to 10% of patients

Bottom line:  Have a high suspicion for scabies in any rash.



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scabies_figures.docx (1,793 Kb)

Category: Toxicology

Title: Predictors of esophageal injury in caustic ingestion?

Keywords: caustic ingestion; esophageal injury (PubMed Search)

Posted: 4/17/2014 by Hong Kim, MD (Updated: 4/19/2014)
Click here to contact Hong Kim, MD

Caustic ingestion can potentially cause significant esophageal and/or gastric injury that can lead to significant morbidity, including death.


Endoscopy is often performed:

·      To determine the presence of caustic injury.

·      To determine the severity of caustic injury (grade: I to III).



Tissue finding



•  Erythema or edema of mucosa

•  No ulceration

No adverse sequela


•  Submucosal ulceration and exudates

•  NOT circumferential

No adverse sequela


•  Submucosal ulceration and exudates

•  Near or circumferential

Stricture > 70%


•  Deep ulcers/necrosis

•  Periesophageal tissue involvement


Perforation and death


Strictures and increased cancer risk


·      Placement of orogastric or nasograstic tube for nutritional support if needed (grade IIb and III)


Evidence for predictor of esophageal injury (frequently cited) comes from mostly studies involving pediatric population and unintentional ingestion:

1.     Gaudreault et al. Pediatrics 1983;71:767-770.

o   Studied signs/symptoms: nausea, vomiting, dysphagia, refusal to drink, abdominal pain, drooling or oropharyngeal burn

o   Presence of symptoms: Grade 0/I lesion: 82%; Grade II: 18%

o   Absence of symptoms: Grade 0/I: 88%; Grade II: 12%

2.     Crain et al. Am J Dis Child. 1984;138(9):863-865

o   Presence of 2 or more (vomiting, drooling and stridor) identified all (n=7) grade II and III lesion.

o   Presence of 1 or no symptoms: no grade II/III lesions

o   Stridor alone associated with grade II/III lesions (n=2)

o   10% of patients without oropharyngeal burns had grade II/III lesions.

3.     Gorman et al. Am J Emerge Med 1990;10(3):189-194.

o   Two or more symptoms: vomiting, dysphagia, abdominal pain or oral burns

o   Sensitivity: 94%; specificity 49%

o   Positive predictive value 43% ; negative predictive value: 96%

o   Stridor alone (n=3): grade II or greater lesion

4.     Previtera et al. Pediatric Emerg Care 1990;6(3):176-178.

o   Esopheal injury in 37.5% of patients without oropharyngeal burn

o   Grade II/III injury: 8 patients


Available data suggests that there are no “good” or reliable predictors for esophageal injury.


However, high suspicion for gastrointestinal injury should be considered with GI consultation for endoscopy in the presence of

·      Stridor alone

·      Two or more sx: vomiting, drooling or stridor (Crain et al)

·      Intentional suicide attempt

  • Only 50% of hemodynamically unstable patients will improve their hemodynamics in response to a fluid bolus. However, because excessive fluid administration can lead to organ edema and dysfunction, it is important to give hemodynamically unstable patients only the necessary amount of fluids to improve their hemodynamics.

  • There are two general categories of assessing a patient's response to volume administration; static and dynamic assessments (see referenced article below):

    • Static assessment (generally unreliable, but traditionally used):

      • Physical exam (dry mucus membranes, cool extremities, etc.)

      • Urine output

      • Blood pressure

      • Central venous pressure via central-line

    • Dynamic assessment (more reliable but more labor intensive)

      • Pulse Pressure Variation

      • IVC Distensibility Index

      • End-expiratory occlusion test

      • Passive Leg-Raise

  • There is no simple way to accurately determine the need for a fluid bolus however the integration of the techniques above can help the clinician make better decisions.

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Category: International EM

Title: The Overlooked Epidemic

Keywords: International, Mental Health, burden of disease (PubMed Search)

Posted: 4/15/2014 by Andrea Tenner, MD (Emailed: 4/16/2014) (Updated: 4/16/2014)
Click here to contact Andrea Tenner, MD

General Information: 

  • Mental disorders account for 7.4% of the world’s burden of disease in terms of disability-adjusted life years and nearly 25% of all years lived with disability — more than cardiovascular disease or cancer (Source: 2010 Global Burden of Disease Study)
  • Suicide is a leading cause of death among young people globally
  • Evidence suggests that people with mental disorders are often subject to severe human rights violations

Relevance to the US physician:

  • The majority of the world’s population has no access to the pharmacologic, psychological, and social interventions that can transform lives.
  • In May 2013, 194 ministers of health adopted the WHO Comprehensive Mental Health Action Plan, recognizing mental health as a global health priority.

Bottom Line:

Mental illness is an often-forgotten cause of significant morbidity worldwide. Front-line care delivered by appropriately trained and supervised community-based health workers operating in partnership with emergency physicians, primary care physicians, and mental health specialists is key to address this health crisis.

University of Maryland Section of Global Emergency Health

Author: Terrence Mulligan DO, MPH

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25 year-old female (G1P1) presents with 3 weeks of vaginal bleeding. Her serum beta-HCG is 65,000. Her bedside ultrasound is below; what's the diagnosis? 

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Category: Cardiology

Title: Airway management in out of hospital cardiac arrest

Keywords: Out of hospital cardiac arrest, OHCA, Prehospital airway management (PubMed Search)

Posted: 4/13/2014 by Ali Farzad, MD
Click here to contact Ali Farzad, MD

Optimal out of hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) airway management strategies remain unclear. In the US, 80% of OHCA patients receive prehospital airway management, most commonly endotracheal intubation (ETI). There is growing enthusiasm for use of supra-glottic airways (SGA) by EMS because of ease of insertion, and the thought that use of SGA reduces interruptions in chest compressions. More recently, studies have suggested improved survival without the insertion of any advanced airway device at all. 

A recent secondary analysis of OHCA outcomes in the Cardiac Arrest Registry to Enhance Survival (CARES) compared patients receiving endotracheal intubation (ETI) versus supra-glottic airway (SGA), and also patients receiving [ETI or SGA] with those receiving no advanced airway. 

Of 10,691 OHCA, 5591 received ETI, 3110 SGA, and 1929 had no advanced airway. Unadjusted neurologically-intact survival was: ETI 5.4%, SGA 5.2%, no advanced airway 18.6%. Compared with SGA, ETI achieved higher sustained ROSC, survival to hospital admission, hospital survival, and hospital discharge with good neurologic outcome. Moreover, compared with [ETI or SGA], patients who received no advanced airway attained higher survival to hospital admission, hospital survival, and hospital discharge with good neurologic outcome. 

Conclusion: In CARES, patients receiving no advanced airway exhibited superior outcomes than those receiving ETI or SGA. When an advanced airway was used, ETI was associated with improved outcomes compared to SGA.

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Category: Pediatrics

Title: Sweets Before Sticks

Posted: 4/11/2014 by Rose Chasm, MD (Updated: 4/19/2014)
Click here to contact Rose Chasm, MD

  • Male infants are routinely given a sweet solution prior to circumcision for analgesia.
  • Michelis and Hoyle recently published a great review of the possible use of sweet solutions in the ED for pediatric patients.
  • Pediatric patients often undergo painful, but rather routine procedures in the ED such as IV and urinary catheter placement, venipuncture, and lumbar punctures.
  • More often than not, however, they are not provided analgesia prior to these procedures.
  • It is believed that repetitive early pain events lead to anxiety and other behavioral disorders while also decreasing pain tolerance.
  • In children less than 12 months, consider giving a sweet solution (2mL of 24% sucrose) 2 minutes before any painful procedure.
  • Multiple studies indicate decreased pain as measured by significantly reduced crying times.
  • It's cheap, safe, and works!

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Category: International EM

Title: Viral Hemorrhagic Fever

Keywords: International, Fever, Hemorrhagic (PubMed Search)

Posted: 4/9/2014 by Andrea Tenner, MD
Click here to contact Andrea Tenner, MD

General Information:

  • 5 families of RNA viruses
  1. Arenaviradae – Lassa fever
  2. Bunyaviradae – Crimean – Congo hemorrhagic fever (CCHF)
  3. Hantavirus - Hemorrhagic Fever with Renal Syndrome (HFRS)
  4. Flaviviruses – Yellow fever, Dengue
  5. Filoviridae – Ebola, Marburg
  • Vector transmission – humans, rodents, livestock, bush meat, mosquito, tick, contaminated feces
  • Incubation of 2-14 days

Clinical Presentation:

  • Mild – Mod: fever, fatigues, malaise, myalgia followed by coagulopathy (petechial rash)
  • Severe: shock, coma, delirium, seizure, liver/renal failure


  • Whole blood or serum can be sent to the CDC for testing (PCR, IgM/IgG, viral culture)
  • Leukopenia/leukocytosis, proteinuria, thrombocytopenia, ­LFTs/PT/PTT, may see DIC


  • Supportive
  • Contact and airborne precautions
  • Ribavirin – effective in patients with Lassa fever or HFRS (not approved by the FDA)
  • Convalescent-phase plasma has been used with success in some patients with Argentine hemorrhagic fever
  • FFP, high dose steroids has been reported to be successful in Crimean-Congo (CCHF)

Bottom Line:

  • Immediate isolate patents with fever and signs of coagulopathy
  • Supportive care primarily

University of Maryland Section of Global Emergency Health

Author: Veronica Pei

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Category: Critical Care

Title: How low should you go? MAP Goals in Septic Shock

Keywords: map, sepsis, septic shock, hypertension (PubMed Search)

Posted: 4/7/2014 by Feras Khan, MD (Emailed: 4/8/2014) (Updated: 4/8/2014)
Click here to contact Feras Khan, MD

How low should you go? MAP Goals in Septic Shock


  • Since Rivers’ Early-Goal Directed Therapy, a MAP of 65 mm Hg was been the standard goal for blood pressure in septic shock
  • Some studies have suggested a higher target may be better for patients with hypertension
  • Potentially less renal failure with a higher target

The Trial:

  • 776 adult patients in France; Multi-center; randomized; non-blinded
  • All patients had septic shock and on vasopressors
  • MAP was maintained for 5 days or when the patient was weaned off pressors
  • Primary outcome: Mortality at Day 28
  • High target 65-70 mm Hg vs Low target 80-85 mm Hg


  • No significant difference in mortality at 28 days: 36.6%  (high target) vs 34% (low target) (95 %CI; 0.84 to 1.38; P=0.57)
  • No significant difference at 90 days: 43.8% (high target) vs 42.3% (low target) (95% CI; 0.83 to 1.30; P=0.74)
  • Incidence of newly diagnosed atrial fibrillation was higher in the high-target group
  • Patients with chronic hypertension: those in the higher target group required less renal-replacement therapy
  • Significant percentage of patients in the high target group did not meet goal MAP BUT the trial mirrored actual clinical practice and allowed clinicians the ability to limit blood pressure and differences in actual MAP attained in both groups was significantly different

Bottom Line:

  • A MAP goal of 65 is just fine in most patients
  • Patients with chronic hypertension and atherosclerosis seem to benefit (less need for renal-replacement therapies) with a higher MAP: so aim higher in these patients or monitor renal function and increase MAP goals accordingly


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23 year-old female presents complaining of progressive right lower quadrant pain after doing "vigorous" pushups. CT abdomen/pelvis below. What’s the diagnosis? (Hint: it’s not appendicitis)


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Category: Visual Diagnosis

Title: What's the Diagnosis? Case by Dr. Ali Farzad

Posted: 4/7/2014 by Haney Mallemat, MD (Emailed: 4/19/2014) (Updated: 4/19/2014)
Click here to contact Haney Mallemat, MD


23 year-old female presents complaining of progressive right lower quadrant pain after doing "vigorous" pushups. CT abdomen/pelvis below. What’s the diagnosis? (Hint: it’s not appendicitis)


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Category: Toxicology

Title: Gabapentin for Treatment of Alcohol Dependence

Keywords: alcohol, gabapentin, dependence (PubMed Search)

Posted: 4/7/2014 by Bryan Hayes, PharmD (Emailed: 4/10/2014) (Updated: 4/10/2014)
Click here to contact Bryan Hayes, PharmD

In a 12-week treatment course,150 alcohol-dependent patients were randomized to receive placebo, gabapentin 900 mg/day, or gabapentin 1,800 mg/day.

  • The abstinence rate was 4.1% (95%CI, 1.1%-13.7%) in the placebo group, 11.1% (95%CI, 5.2%-22.2%) in the 900-mg group, and 17.0% (95%CI, 8.9%-30.1%) in the 1,800-mg group (P = .04 for linear dose effect; number needed to treat [NNT] = 8 for 1,800 mg).
  • The no heavy drinking rate was 22.5% (95%CI, 13.6%-37.2%) in the placebo group, 29.6% (95%CI, 19.1%-42.8%) in the 900-mg group, and 44.7% (95%CI, 31.4%-58.8%) in the 1,800-mg group (P = .02 for linear dose effect; NNT = 5 for 1,800 mg).
Gabapentin significantly improved the rates of abstinence and no heavy drinking. No serious adverse effects were reported.
Gabapentin may offer an additional treatment option for alcohol dependent patients.

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Category: Pharmacology & Therapeutics

Title: Acetaminophen – the villain of the 2013

Keywords: Tylenol, liver faliure (PubMed Search)

Posted: 4/6/2014 by Brian Corwell, MD (Emailed: 4/19/2014) (Updated: 4/19/2014)
Click here to contact Brian Corwell, MD

Acetaminophen spent much of 2013 being chased by paparazzi and sharing magazine covers with Miley Cyrus. What a fall from stardom after becoming known as the pain reliever “hospitals use most,” and the one, “recommended by pediatricians.” Slogans we know well based on $100 million/year spent on advertising.

Approximately 150 patients a year die from unintentional acetaminophen poisoning averaged over the past 10 years. From 2001 to 2010, annual acetaminophen-related deaths amounted to about twice the number attributed to all other over-the-counter pain relievers combined, 

The FDA sets the maximum recommended daily dose of acetaminophen at 4 grams, or eight extra strength acetaminophen tablets.

Ingestion of 150 mg/kg or approximately 10g for a 70 mg individual reaches the toxic threshold for a single ingestion. The toxic threshold decreases in cases of chronic ingestion.

Patients who “unintentionally” overdose have been found to take just over 8g per day (almost double the recommended maximum).  This is unlikely due to taking one extra 325mg tablet once or twice.

Before we all go on a mad NSAID prescribing binge, let's all be aware of the dangers, educate our patients and allow Acetaminophen to walk the red carpet again.


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Category: Orthopedics

Title: Sports Hernia/Athletic pubalgia

Keywords: Sports Hernia, groin pain (PubMed Search)

Posted: 4/6/2014 by Brian Corwell, MD (Emailed: 4/19/2014)
Click here to contact Brian Corwell, MD

Sports Hernia/Athletic pubalgia


Hx: Gradually increasing lower abdominal/proximal adductor pain. Usually activity related, resolves with rest. Frequent return despite rest when sports activity resumes.

Most common in athletes who perform cutting/maneuvers in addition to frequent acceleration/deceleration. Think ice hockey and soccer.

Bilateral symptoms not uncommon.

PE:  Resisted sit up with palpation of the inferolateral edge of the distal rectus may recreate symptoms. Similarly, resisted hip adduction may elicit symptoms. 

If for no other reason than to make the diagnosis harder to make, valsalva induced pain may also occur.

Fluoroscopic guided injections can be helpful to isolate the site of pain generation.

First line therapy is rest, non-narcotic analgesia and physical therapy.

With surgery, >80% return to pre injury level of play.


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Category: Orthopedics

Title: Risk Modifiers for Concussion and Prolonged Recovery

Keywords: Concussion, recovery, head injury (PubMed Search)

Posted: 4/6/2014 by Brian Corwell, MD (Emailed: 4/19/2014) (Updated: 4/19/2014)
Click here to contact Brian Corwell, MD

Risk Modifiers for Concussion and Prolonged Recovery


A history of prior concussion is a risk factor for future concussion (>2x risk).

For individual sports, boxing has the highest risk.

For team sports, football, ice hockey and rugby have the highest risk.

Women’s soccer confers the highest risk for female athletes.

Younger age confers increased risk.

Female sex confers higher risk when comparing similar sports with similar rules.

Those with migraine headaches may be at increased risk.

Risk of prolonged concussion

Most athletes have symptoms resolution within one week

Post traumatic amnesia (both retrograde and anterograde) predict increased number and longer duration of symptoms.

Younger age also predicts pronged recovery.

Other studies have found associations with headache lasting greater than 60 hours, fatigue, “fogginess,” or greater than 3 symptoms at initial presentation. Cognitive studies have identified deficits in visual memory and process speed as predictors of prolonged recovery. 

  • Naloxone has technically always been able to be prescribed by physicians to individual patients.
  • New laws however, make it acceptable for prescribers in many states to prescribe naloxone to “third parties,” e.g parents, friends, etc. of patients, with the assumption that the overdosed patient will not be capable of administering the antidote to themselves.
  • Many states are offering short 10-20 minute training sessions on how bystanders can administer the reversal agent to the patient who has overdosed.
  • If prescribed, it should be prescribed to the individual who completed the training, not the intended patient, and may be written for intranasal or intramuscular administration.
  • Intranasal (IN) is “off label” and an approved intranasal preparation is not commercially available, but the intramuscular preparation can be prescribed along with an atomizer device. The usual IN dose is 1 mg per nostril which may be repeated in 3-5 minutes.

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Category: International EM

Title: What's the diagnosis?

Keywords: HIV, global health, infectious disease, rash, puritis (PubMed Search)

Posted: 4/1/2014 by Andrea Tenner, MD (Emailed: 4/2/2014) (Updated: 4/2/2014)
Click here to contact Andrea Tenner, MD


You are working in a clinic in Tanzania (or Baltimore, for that matter) when a 24 year old presents with this itchy rash on his feet.  What's the diagnosis and what underlying systemic condition does it indicate?



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HIV-Associated_Puritic_Papular_Eruptions.JPG (2,920 Kb)

Coagulopathies in Critical Illness - DIC

  • Disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC) is an acquired syndrome of intravascular coagulation and is commonly encountered in critically ill patients.
  • Think about DIC in the critically ill patient with oozing at vascular sites (or wounds) and the following lab abnormalities:
    • Thrombocytopenia
    • Prolonged PT and aPTT
    • Decreased fibrinogen
    • Elevated fibrin split products and D-dimer
  • Guidelines for the management of DIC are primarily based on expert opinion and include:
    • Treat the underlying condition (i.e., sepsis)
    • Transfuse platelets if < 50,000 per mm3
    • Transfuse FFP to maintain PT and aPTT < 1.5 times normal control
    • Transfuse cryoprecipitate to maintain fibrinogen levels > 1.5 g/L
  • The use of heparin remains controversial and cannot be routinely recommended.

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25 year-old female presents with the following. It seems to have occurred spontaneously and spontaneously resolves during her ED evaluation.


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Category: Cardiology

Title: Perinatally Infected HIV & Cardiovascular Disease

Posted: 3/31/2014 by Semhar Tewelde, MD (Emailed: 4/6/2014) (Updated: 4/6/2014)
Click here to contact Semhar Tewelde, MD

Perinatally Infected HIV & Cardiovascular Disease

*Perinatally HIV-infected adolescents are susceptible to aggregate atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease risk, but few studies have quantified risk or developed a scoring system

*A recent study of perinatally HIV-infected adolescents calculated coronary artery and abdominal aorta PDAY (Pathobiological Determinants of Atherosclerosis in Youth) scores using modifiable risk factors: HTN, HLD, smoking, obesity and hyperglycemia

*Significant predictors of a high coronary arteries and abdominal aorta scores include: male sex, Hx AIDS-defining condition, long duration of ritonavir-boosted protease inhibitor, and no prior use of tenofovir

*PDAY scores may be useful in identifying high-risk youth who may benefit from early lifestyle or clinical interventions given their trend of increased aggregate atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease risk factor burden

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