UMEM Educational Pearls - Critical Care

Category: Critical Care

Title:

Keywords: Alarm Fatigue (PubMed Search)

Posted: 5/20/2019 by Robert Brown, MD (Emailed: 2/27/2020) (Updated: 2/27/2020)
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Takeaways

In a study of alarms from 77 monitored ICU beds over the course of a month at the University of California, San Francisco, false alarms were common. Accellerated Ventircular Rhythms (AVRs) made up roughly one third of the alarms, and of the more than 4,361 AVRs, 94.9% were false while the remaining 5.1% did not result in a clinical action.

While this study had a majority of patients in the Med/Surg ICUs, a minority were from the cardiac and neurologic ICUs giving it some broad applicability. This study adds to the literature indicating there are subsets of alarms which may not be necessary or which may require adjustment to increase specificity.

Suba S, Sandoval CS, Zegre-Hemsey J, et al. Contribution of Electrocardiographic Accelerated Ventricular Rhythm Alarms to Alarm Fatigue. American Journal of Critical Care. 2019; 28(3):222-229

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Category: Critical Care

Title:

Keywords: Botulism, IVDA (PubMed Search)

Posted: 7/2/2019 by Robert Brown, MD (Emailed: 2/27/2020)
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Takeaways

Don’t miss the injecting drug users with botulism!

Wound botulism presents as descending paralysis when Clostridium botulinum spores germinate in anaerobic necrotic tissue. There have been hundreds of cases in the last decade, but it is poorly reported outside of California.

Black tar heroin and subcutaneous injection (“skin popping”) carry the highest risk, but other injected drugs and other types of drug use suffice. C botulinum spores are viable unless cooked at or above 85°C for 5 minutes or longer and this is not achieved when cooking drugs. 

Early administration of botulism anti-toxin (BAT) not only saves lives but can prevent paralysis and mechanical ventilation. An outbreak of 9 cases between September 2017 and April 2018 cost roughly $2.3 million, in part because patients didn’t present on average until 48 hours after symptom onset and it took an additional 2-4 days before the true cause of their respiratory depression and lethargy were understood. One patient died.

PEARL: talk to your injecting drug users about the symptoms of botulism: muscle weakness, difficulty swallowing, blurred vision, drooping eyelids, slurred speech, loss of facial expression, descending paralysis, and difficulty breathing. Consider botulism early in your patients who inject drugs but who do not respond to naloxone or who exhibit prolonged symptoms. Testing at the health department is performed with mouse antibodies to Botulism Neurotoxin (BoNT) combined with the patient’s serum.

 

 

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Category: Critical Care

Title:

Keywords: Right Ventricle, RV Size (PubMed Search)

Posted: 11/5/2019 by Kim Boswell, MD (Emailed: 2/27/2020)
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Rapid Assessment of the RV on Bedside Echo

There are several causes of acute RV dysfunction resulting in a patient presenting to the ER with unstable hemodynamics. Some of these include acute cor pulmonale, acute right sided myocardial infarction and acute submassive or massive pulmonary embolism. While bedside assessment of the LV function is often performed by the ED physician, simultaneous evaluation of the RV can provide crucial information that can help guide therapeutic decisions to prevent worsening of the patient’s clinical condition. A rough guideline to determine RV size and function is below using the apical 4 chamber view.

Normal RV size :            <2/3 the size of the LV

Mildly enlarged RV :       >2/3 the size of the LV, but not equal in size

Moderately enlarged RV:  RV size = LV size

Severely enlarged RV:      RV size > LV size

Patients who are found to have RV dilation should be given fluids in a judicious fashion as the RV is not tolerant of fluid overload. Early diagnosis of the cause of acute RV failure should be sought to guide definitive therapy, but early institution of inotropic support should be considered. Frequent reassessments of biventricular function during resuscitation should be performed.

 

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Category: Critical Care

Title: Predicting peri-Intubation hypotension

Keywords: peri-Intubation, shock index (PubMed Search)

Posted: 2/7/2017 by Rory Spiegel, MD (Emailed: 2/27/2020)
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Identifying patients at risk of hypotension during intubation is not always straight forward. The prevalence of peri-intubation hypotension in the Emergency Department has been demonstrated to be approximately 20%.1 And while certain variables increase the likelihood of peri-intubation hypotension (ex. Shock index> 0.80), no single factor predicts it accurately enough to be used at the bedside.2 In the majority of patients undergoing intubation, clinicians should be prepared for peri-intubation hypotension with either vasopressor infusions or push dose pressors.

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Category: Critical Care

Title: Oxygenation goals

Posted: 3/11/2009 by Mike Winters, MD (Emailed: 2/27/2020) (Updated: 2/27/2020)
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Oxygenation goals

  • In recent pearls we have talked about 'lung protective' ventilation strategies to reduce volutrauma, barotrauma, and oxygen toxicity.
  • Using 'lung protective' strategies, such as low tidal volumes, results in higher levels of CO2 and a lower pH.  These are tolerated in favor of lower and safer alveolar pressures.
  • In addition to higher pCO2 values and lower pH, oxygenation goals are slightly lower than conventional teaching.
  • In these patients, you want to maintain SpO2 > 88% and PaO2 > 55 mm Hg.

Category: Critical Care

Title: Adrenal Insufficiency

Posted: 4/12/2013 by Haney Mallemat, MD (Emailed: 2/27/2020) (Updated: 2/27/2020)
Click here to contact Haney Mallemat, MD

Adrenal insufficiency (AI) can be a life-threating condition and is classified as primary (failure of the adrenal gland) or secondary (failure of hypothalamic- pituitary axis).

Common causes of primary adrenal insufficiency include autoimmune destruction, infectious causes (TB and CMV), or interactions with drugs (e.g., anti-fungals, Etomidate, etc.). Secondary causes are usually due to abrupt withdrawal of steroids after chronic use, although sepsis and diseases of the hypothalamus or pituitary (e.g., CVA) may occur.

Signs and symptoms include fatigue, weakness, skin pigmentation, dizziness, abdominal pain, and orthostatic hypotension; it should be suspected with any of the following: hyponatremia, hyperkalemia, hypoglycemia, hypercalcemia, low free-cortisol level, and hemodynamic instability despite resuscitation.

Treatment:
• Correct underlying the disorder
• Resuscitation and hemodynamic support
• Correct hypoglycemia and electrolyte abnormalities
• Treat with hydrocortisone, cortisone, prednisone, or dexamethasone +/- fludrocortisone (Note: dexamethasone is attractive choice in the ED because it will not interfere with ACTH stimulation test)


 

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