UMEM Educational Pearls

Category: Obstetrics & Gynecology

Title: Shoulder Dystocia Legal Pearl

Keywords: Erb's Palsy, Dystocia, Legal (PubMed Search)

Posted: 7/14/2007 by Michael Bond, MD (Emailed: 7/8/2007) (Updated: 12/7/2019)
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In follow up to my Shoulder Dystocia Pearl

Dr. DePriest Whye has some legal pearls for us:

Erbs Palsy( Brachial Plexus Injury) is a known complication of shoulder dystocia and is due to traction on the arm that causes stretching of the brachial plexus.

  • Should an Erb's Palsy result as a consequence of a shoulder dystocia, a medical malpractice suit is inevitable.
  • The medical record documentation is particularly critical in defending the medical care rendered.
  • The medical record should reflect timely recognition of the shoulder dystocia.
  • It is important that appropriate implementation of the maneuvers described last week are done in a timely fashion.
  • Vital documentation should describe the amount of traction placed if any.
  • Terms such as minimal or mild or light traction should be used.
  • Terms such as strong, forceful, significant traction should be avoided.
  • Never state in the record that uterine pressure was used as opposed to suprapubic pressure.
  • Uterine pressure is contraindicated.

Erb's Palsy cases are difficult to defend. They are impossible to defend with improper documentation.


Category: Vascular

Title: Pulmonary Embolism Rule Out

Keywords: D-Dimer, PE, Well's (PubMed Search)

Posted: 7/14/2007 by Rob Rogers, MD (Emailed: 7/8/2007) (Updated: 12/7/2019)
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Update on the Wells Criteria for PE-patients with a score of 4 or less (which means low to moderate probability) can be considered for a "d-dimer negative" rule out approach. This is a bit of a change from the low risk only approach. Additionally, the British Thoracic Society guidelines support the low and moderate risk group patient rule out strategy. So, if you have a low or even moderate risk patient, you can use the approach of obtaining a highly sensitive d-dimer and if it is negative, the hunt for PE is over.

Category: Pediatrics

Title: Inborn Errors of Metabolisn

Keywords: Inborn Errors of Metabolism, Hypoglycemia, organomegaly (PubMed Search)

Posted: 7/14/2007 by Sean Fox, MD (Emailed: 7/8/2007) (Updated: 12/7/2019)
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Inborn Errors of Metabolism For the child with neurologic abnormalities, vomiting, acidosis, hypoglycemia, organomegaly, or cardiopulmonary arrest remember to consider Inborn Errors of Metabolism (IEM) on your DDx. There are over 300 disorders of the various biochemical pathways, and while the individual incidence for each disorder may be rare, the collective incidence for IEM is 1-2 / 1,000 births. Treat dehydration and hypoglycemia promptly but FIRST, draw EXTRA blood samples (at UMMS, two adult Green Tops and one adult Red Top) in addition to the basic labs. ==> Once you begin therapy to correct the acid/base disturbance, hypoglycemia, and dehydration the abnormal metabolites present in their serum will be reduced and possibly confound the diagnosis. ==> Draw the extra blood, before your give the NS bolus or the Dextrose! ==> Basic Labs (1) ABG, BMP, Ammonia, U/A are helpful immediately (2) CBC, Blood and Urine Cultures (look for concurrent infection, possibly the inciting event) (3) Urine Reducing Substances, serum organic acids, urine and serum amino acids are also useful

Category: Pediatrics

Title: Bacterial tracheitis

Keywords: Bacterial tracheitis, stridor, croup, epiglottitis (PubMed Search)

Posted: 7/14/2007 by Sean Fox, MD (Emailed: 7/8/2007) (Updated: 12/7/2019)
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Bacterial Tracheitis Considered bacterial tracheitis in a patient who has fever, stridor, and symptoms that do not respond to therapy for croup (racemic epinephrine and steroids). The epidemiology of acute infectious upper airway disease in pediatrics has been altered with immunization against Haemophilus influenza- b and the widespread use of corticosteroids for the treatment of viral croup. Bacterial Tracheitis has replaced epiglottitis and croup as the most common cause of acute respiratory failure. One study found it to be 3 times more likely to cause respiratory failure than croup and epiglotittis combined. The mortality rates had been reported as high as 18% to 40%. Hopkins, A., et al., Changing epidemiology of life-threatening upper airway infections: the reemergence of bacterial tracheitis. Pediatrics, 2006. 118(4): p. 1418-21.

Category: Pediatrics

Title: Acute Otitis Media

Keywords: Acute Otitis Media, Amoxicillin, insufflation, Delayed treament (PubMed Search)

Posted: 7/14/2007 by Sean Fox, MD (Emailed: 7/8/2007) (Updated: 12/7/2019)
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Acute Otitis Media Make the Diagnosis Properly ==> Acute Onset of Symptoms ==> Signs of Middle Ear Infection (1) Buldging TM, poor mobility c insufflation, otorrhea, air-fluid level ==> Signs of Middle Ear Inflammation (1) TM erythema or otalgia (that interferes with nl activity) Can you wait on the Abx? ==> Older than 6months ==> No severe infections (T>39 C) ==> If yes to both, may hold Abx for 48 hours. Treat Appropriately ==> High-Dose Amoxicillin (80-90mg/kg/D) is 1st line If the decision is made to observe without antibiotic therapy, the parents can be given a prescription for Abx with instructions to fill it if the child does not improve in 48 to 72 hours, or see the PMD in 2 days. (Spiro, D. Tay, K. Wait-to-see prescription for the treatment of acute otitis media. JAMA 2006, 1235.)

Category: Toxicology

Title: Heavy Metal Poisoning Clues for Diagnosis

Keywords: metal, poisoning, thallium (PubMed Search)

Posted: 7/14/2007 by Fermin Barrueto, MD (Emailed: 7/8/2007) (Updated: 12/7/2019)
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Heavy Metal Poisoning Clues for Diagnosis Mees lines, indication of arrested nail growth, occurs in lead, arsenic and others Most heavy metals will cause a proteinuria Microcytic anemia and basophilic stippling seen in lead, arsenic, mercury Peripheral neuropathies in otherwise healthy person Thallium causes classic painful paresthesias in lower extremities

Category: Toxicology

Title: Cyanide

Keywords: cyanide, poisoning, hydroxycobalamin (PubMed Search)

Posted: 7/14/2007 by Fermin Barrueto, MD (Emailed: 7/8/2007) (Updated: 12/7/2019)
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Cyanide Presents with arterialization of venous blood (venous blood draw looks like ABG) Reason: o Hemoglobin is not able to offload oxygen o CN poisons cytochrome c oxidase preventing conversion of oxygen to water and thus production of ATP Old antidote: sodium thiosulfate New antidote: hydroxycobalamin binds CN producing cyanocobalamin (Vit B12) When you give it expects a dip in pulse because of its blue color. Remember CN will give you a beautiful 100% pulse all the way to death. Lee J, et al. Potential interference by hydroxocobalamin on cooximetry hemoglobin measurements during cyanide and smoke inhalation treatments. Ann Emerg Med. 2007 Jun;49(6):802-5. Epub 2007 Jan 8.

Category: Toxicology

Title: Hydrofluoric Acid (HF)

Keywords: hydrofluoric acid, hypocalcemia, burn (PubMed Search)

Posted: 7/14/2007 by Fermin Barrueto, MD (Emailed: 7/8/2007) (Updated: 12/7/2019)
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Hydrofluoric Acid (HF) Used in glass etching, brick/porcelain cleaning and available in hardware stores Death has been reported after JUST 2-3% body surface area exposure! Systemic toxicity: hypocalcemia, hyperkalemia and hypomagensemia Local effects: paucity of skin findings with tremendous pain Treatment: skin decontamination, correct electrolyte abnormalities and topical calcium gel for local pain Mayer TG, GrossPI. Fatal systemic fluoride due to hydrofluoric acid burns. Ann Emerg Med 1985; 14: 149-153.

Category: Toxicology

Title: Toxic Alcohols

Keywords: Ethylene glycol, methanol, toxic alcohol (PubMed Search)

Posted: 7/14/2007 by Fermin Barrueto, MD (Emailed: 7/8/2007) (Updated: 12/7/2019)
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Toxic Alcohols Unexplained anion gap metabolic acidosis => give fomepizole (antidote) Hypokalemia, hypocalcemia, elevated creatinine => think ethlylene glycol Visual disturbances => think methanol Ketosis without acidosis and high osmol gap => think isopropanol If osmol gap is >70; high specificity for a toxic alcohol ingestion

Category: Cardiology

Title: Acute Pericarditis

Keywords: Pericariditis, TB, Viral (PubMed Search)

Posted: 7/14/2007 by Amal Mattu, MD (Emailed: 7/8/2007) (Updated: 12/7/2019)
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Acute Pericarditis Viral and idiopathic causes account for 80-90% of cases of acute pericarditis (AP) in immunocompetent patients from developed countries. Therefore empiric treatment and extensive search for an underlying cause is unnecessary in the majority of cases we see. However, the etiology of AP in developing countries is very different, with TB-related AP predominating. 70-80% of cases from Sub-Saharan Africa and more than 90% of HIV-related cases of AP are tuberculous. Therefore, in the U.S. tuberculous pericarditis should be strongly considered among immigrants/visitors from developing countries and among patients with HIV.

Category: Cardiology

Title: Cardiac Output After Age 35

Posted: 7/14/2007 by Amal Mattu, MD (Emailed: 7/8/2007) (Updated: 12/7/2019)
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After the age 35, cardiac output decreases by approximately 1% per year. That means that elderly patients are at much higher risk for CHF, especially when they are stressed in some way. CHF can develop in the elderly as a result of any stype of infection or other non-cardiac insult. If decompensated CHF is diagnosed in an elderly patient, don't forget to evaluate the patient carefully for potential non-cardiac causes.

Category: Cardiology

Title: Syncope

Keywords: Syncope, CHESS, San Francisco (PubMed Search)

Posted: 7/14/2007 by Amal Mattu, MD (Emailed: 7/8/2007) (Updated: 12/7/2019)
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Syncope Patients with syncope that are considered to be relatively low risk for complications clinically (i.e. those patients that are not clear-cut admissions) should be evaluated for the 5 CHESS criteria (from the San Francisco Syncope Rules). If they meet none of those criteria, then they are considered to be at very low risk for short-term adverse outcomes and they can be discharged for outpatient follow-up. If they do have any CHESS criteria, they are considered to be at higher risk and admission should be strongly considered. CHESS criteria: history of CHF, hematocrit < 30, ECG abnormalities, shortness of breath, presenting systolic pressure < 90.

Category: Cardiology

Title: Dyspnea

Posted: 7/14/2007 by Amal Mattu, MD (Emailed: 7/8/2007) (Updated: 12/7/2019)
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Elderly are more likely to present with dyspnea (49% [the most common anginal equivalent]), diaphoresis (26%), nausea and vomiting (24%), and syncope (19%) as a primary complaint. The takeaway point: always get that ECG early in elderly patients with these complaints, even when CP is absent!

Category: Cardiology

Title: AMI versus Aneurysm

Posted: 7/14/2007 by Amal Mattu, MD (Emailed: 7/8/2007) (Updated: 12/7/2019)
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AMI versus Aneurysm For ECG distinction between AMI versus ventricular aneurysm, look for reciprocal changes and height of T-waves: 1. Reciprocal ST depression strongly favors AMI. 2. Large T-waves in leads with Q waves and STE is likely AMI. Ventricular aneurysm usually gives you "blunted" or flat T-waves in those leads.

Category: Cardiology

Title: Non-ACS causes of elevation troponins

Keywords: Troponin, cause, Non-ACS (PubMed Search)

Posted: 7/14/2007 by Amal Mattu, MD (Emailed: 7/8/2007) (Updated: 12/7/2019)
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Non-ACS causes of elevation troponins: 1. acute PE 2. Stanford A aortic dissections 3. acute heart failure 4. strenuous exercise (e.g ultra-endurance activities) 5. cardiac toxins 6. ablation therapy/cardiversion 7. cardiac infiltrative diseases 8. post-heart transplant (may persist up to 3 mos) 9. cardiac contusion 10. sepsis 11. rhabdomyolysis

Category: Cardiology

Title: Cyanide toxicity

Keywords: Cyanide, itroprusside, hypotension (PubMed Search)

Posted: 7/14/2007 by Mike Winters, MD (Emailed: 7/8/2007) (Updated: 12/7/2019)
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Be alert for cyanide toxicity when using sodium nitroprusside * Toxicity from sodium nitroprusside can be seen in as little as 2-4 hours with rates > 4.0 mcg/kg/min * Patients with hepatic and renal dysfunction are at greatest risk * Clinical signs of toxicity include altered mental status (agitation, restlessness), tachycardia, ventricular arrhythmias, and eventually hypotension * The classic anion-gap metabolic acidosis is a pre-terminal event - do not wait for this to develop to raise suspicion of toxicity! Reference: Marcucci L, ed. Avoiding common ICU errors. Philadelphia; Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2007:148-9.

Category: Airway Management

Title: Plateau Pressure

Keywords: Plateau, Peak, Pressure, airway (PubMed Search)

Posted: 7/14/2007 by Mike Winters, MD (Emailed: 7/8/2007) (Updated: 12/7/2019)
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Use plateau pressure, rather than peak inspiratory pressure, as a means of assessing the risk of barotrauma * One mechanism (of many) by which mechanical ventilation can induce acute lung injury in patients with ARDS is overdistention of the alveoli * 2 common parameters used to assess airway pressures are plateau pressure (Pplat) and peak inspiratory pressure (PIP) * Pplat approximates small airway and alveolar pressures more closely than PIP * ARDSnet trial demonstrated a reduction in the number of ventilator days and mortality when Pplat was maintained < 30 cm H2O. References: 1. ARDS Network. Ventilation with lower tidal volumes as compared with traditional tidal volumes for acute lung injury and the acute respiratory distress syndrome. NEJM 2000;342:1301-8. 2. Marcucci L, ed. Avoiding common ICU errors. Philadelphia; Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2007:275-6.

Category: Airway Management

Title: Venous Air Embolism

Keywords: Air, Embolism, Catheter (PubMed Search)

Posted: 7/14/2007 by Mike Winters, MD (Emailed: 7/8/2007) (Updated: 12/7/2019)
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Recognize the signs of venous air embolism when inserting a central venous catheter * Although rare, a feared complications of CVC insertion is venous air embolism (VAE) * Conditions that increase the risk of VAE are detachment of catheter connections, failure to occlude the needle hub during insertion, hypovolemia, and upright positioning of the patient * Clinically, VAE presents with acute dyspnea, cough, chest pain, altered mental status, tachypnea, tachycardia, and/or hypotension * Treatment includes placing the patient in a left lateral decubitus position, reverse Trendelenburg, and providing 100% oxygen via NRB * Also consider hyperbaric oxygen therapy * Aspiration of air, as recommended in some textbooks, is rarely successful Reference: Mirski MA. Lele AV. Fitzsimmons L. Toung TJ. Diagnosis and treatment of vascular air embolism. Anesthesiology 2007;106(1):164-77.

Category: Critical Care

Title: Pacer Cordis

Keywords: Pacer, Cordis, transvenous (PubMed Search)

Posted: 7/14/2007 by Mike Winters, MD (Emailed: 7/8/2007) (Updated: 12/7/2019)
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Make sure the Cordis is the right size when floating a pacing wire * At some point in your career, you may need to "float" a transvenous pacing wire * When inserting the wire, you need to make sure you have the right size Cordis * In general, a pacing wire should be inserted through a 6F Cordis (0.198 mm) * Many introducer kits have a 7.5F Cordis (0.2475mm) that is used for insertion of a PAC * Blood loss, infection, and air embolism are risks that can occur when the Cordis catheter used is too large Reference: 1. Marcucci L, ed. Avoiding common ICU errors. Philadelphia; Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2007:275-6.

Category: Critical Care

Title: TRALI - Transfusion Related Acute Lung Injury

Keywords: Transfusion, Lung, Injury (PubMed Search)

Posted: 7/14/2007 by Mike Winters, MD (Emailed: 7/8/2007) (Updated: 12/7/2019)
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TRALI - Transfusion Related Acute Lung Injury * TRALI has now emerged as the primary cause of transfusion-associated mortality, surpassing infectious complications and ABO mismatch * TRALI is defined as new ALI in a patient receiving, or having just received (within the past 6 hours), a blood product transfusion * All plasma-containing products have been implicated (FFP and platelets are the top offenders) * Clinically, patients present with dyspnea, tachypnea, and hypoxia * CXR findings are consistent with noncardiogenic pulmonary edema * There is no unique treatment for TRALI; most patients have resolution within 96 hours * AVOID diuretics as these patients are often volume depleted Reference: 1. Looney MR. Newly recognized causes of acute lung injury: transfusion of blood products, severe acute respiratory syndrome, and avian influenza. Clin Chest Med 2006;27:591-600.