UMEM Educational Pearls

Category: Obstetrics & Gynecology

Title: Imminent Delivery

Keywords: Delivery, Imminent, Dystocia (PubMed Search)

Posted: 7/10/2007 by Michael Bond, MD (Emailed: 7/8/2007) (Updated: 12/7/2019)
Click here to contact Michael Bond, MD

If you are facing the imminent delivery of a newborn with shoulder dystocia remember the mnemonic HELPERR. * Help. Call for it. * Episiotomy. o Necessary only to make more room if rotation maneuvers are required. * Legs (the McRoberts maneuver) o This procedure involves flexing and abducting the maternal hips, positioning the maternal thighs up onto the maternal abdomen. * Pressure, Suprapubic o The hand of an assistant should be placed suprapubically over the fetal anterior shoulder, applying pressure in a cardiopulmonary resuscitation style with a downward and lateral motion on the posterior aspect of the fetal shoulder. This maneuver should be attempted while continuing downward traction. * Enter maneuvers (internal rotation) o Attempt to manipulate the fetus to rotate the anterior shoulder into an oblique plane and under the maternal symphysis. * Remove o Remove the posterior arm. * Roll the patient. o Rolling the patient on all-fours will often dislodge the shoulder, and the position change allows gravity to aid in the disimpaction of shoulder. Baxley EG, Gobbo RW. Shoulder Dystocia, Am FamPhysician. 2004;69(7):1709-1714.

Category: Airway Management

Title: Airway Pearls

Keywords: Airway, Intubation (PubMed Search)

Posted: 7/12/2007 by Michael Bond, MD (Emailed: 7/8/2007) (Updated: 12/7/2019)
Click here to contact Michael Bond, MD

1. Hyperventilation in the pediatric HI causes an increase in cerebral ischemiaand increases in ICP 2. Cuffed tubes can be used in the pediatric airway 3. The most common cause of bradycardia in pediatric RSI is hypoxia and this is NOT prevented with atropine 4. Patients with an underlining neuromyopathy have an upregulation of neuroreceptors (they actually have more in number) the risk if hyperkalemic cardiac arrest is significant if succynlcholine is administered. 5. During Direct Laryngoscopy; the Mac blade can also be used as a Miller negating changing the blades. 6. Intubation is now a bimanual procedure as the use of External Laryngeal Movement (ELM) significantly increase the intubators view.

Category: Infectious Disease

Title: Tuberculosis Screening

Keywords: TB, PPD, Conversion (PubMed Search)

Posted: 7/12/2007 by Michael Bond, MD (Emailed: 7/8/2007) (Updated: 12/7/2019)
Click here to contact Michael Bond, MD

PPD is considered positive: >= 15 mm Induration: Anybody >= 10 mm induration: Born in a high-revalence country, are in a medically underserved population ( e.g.:Blacks, Hispanics, and Native Americans), individuals with a medical condition that increases risk of TB (e.g.; silicosis, gastrectomy, chronic renal failure, immunosuppressant therapy, malignancy, IV drug abusers, and those that work in the medical field. >=5mm induration: HIV or suspected HIV-positive, close contacts of newly diagnosed TB Cases (everybody on the plane), and abnormal CXR with fibrotic changes suggesting old TB MMWR September 08, 1995/ 44(RR-11);18-34

Category: Pediatrics


Keywords: SCIWORA, Spinal Cord Injury Without Radiographic Abnormality, MRI, steroids (PubMed Search)

Posted: 7/14/2007 by Sean Fox, MD (Emailed: 7/8/2007) (Updated: 12/7/2019)
Click here to contact Sean Fox, MD

SCIWORA (Spinal Cord Injury Without Radiographic Abnormality) Children <8yrs old can have their spinal cord stretched up to 5cm before rupture. Their cervical spinal columns are more mobile and held together with less stable ligaments allowing for horizontal movement of the vertebrae. The mobility of the spinal column allows for spontaneous reduction of subluxated vertebrae; therefore, CTs and plain radiographs will often appear normal at the time of ED evaluation. Any child with neurologic deficits or a concerning mechanism of injury deserves an MRI to evaluated for SCIWORA. No studies of the utility of steroids in children with spinal cord injury exist; current recommendations are to reserve methylprednisolone for those children who present with persistent or progressive neurologic deficits.

Category: Pediatrics

Title: ALTE

Keywords: ALTE , Apparent Life Threatening Events, color change, apnea, SIDS, Seizure (PubMed Search)

Posted: 7/14/2007 by Sean Fox, MD (Emailed: 7/8/2007) (Updated: 12/7/2019)
Click here to contact Sean Fox, MD

ALTE (Apparent Life Threatening Events) Defined as an episode characterized by some combination of apnea, color change, change in tone, choking, and/or gaging. Vast DDx ==> Get Bedside Glucose Early (should be part of vital signs) ==> Keep Non-accidental Trauma on the list ==> ~50% are classified as Idiopathic Risk Factors associated with Increased Mortality: ==> Sleep Onset ==> Prior Similar Episode ==> Sibling a Victim of SIDS ==> Development of Seizure D/O during monitoring 7.8% of ALTE pt s with a Normal ED evaluation required medical intervention during hospitalization. -Oren, J., D. Kelly, and D.C. Shannon, Identification of a high-risk group for sudden infant death syndrome among infants who were resuscitated for sleep apnea. Pediatrics, 1986. 77(4): p. 495-9. -De Piero, A.D., S.J. Teach, and J.M. Chamberlain, ED evaluation of infants after an apparent life-threatening event. Am J Emerg Med, 2004. 22(2): p. 83-6.

Category: Pediatrics

Title: Intussusception

Keywords: Intussusception, Abdominal Pain, bloody stools, vomitting, change in mental status (PubMed Search)

Posted: 7/14/2007 by Sean Fox, MD (Emailed: 7/8/2007) (Updated: 12/7/2019)
Click here to contact Sean Fox, MD

Intussusception Age: 3months to 6 years, most common among 3-12 months The classic triad: colicky abdominal pain, vomiting, and red currant jelly stools ==> Occurs in only 21% of cases. ==> Currant jelly stools are observed in only 50% of cases. ==> 75% without obviously bloody stools will have positive occult blood. A child vomiting without diarrhea should raise suspicion. Consider it in infant/toddler with change in mental status/lethargy (TIPS AEIOU one of the I s is for Intussusception). Choice of Radiographic Evaluation is often based upon your institutional resources ==> U/S is the modality of choice for imaging, but cannot treat. ==> Air contrast enema (now preferred over saline contrast) is useful for diagnosis and treatment. ==> Both are operator dependent

Category: Toxicology

Title: Digoxin Toxicity

Keywords: digoxin, cardiac glycoside, toxicity (PubMed Search)

Posted: 7/14/2007 by Fermin Barrueto, MD (Emailed: 7/8/2007) (Updated: 12/7/2019)
Click here to contact Fermin Barrueto, MD

Digoxin Toxicity Most common finding on ECG when digoxin toxic: PVCs Most classic ECG in digoxin toxicity: PAT with block Pathognomonic finding (RARE): Bidirectional ventricular tachycardia Easy formula for administration of digoxin specific Fab (Digibind?? or DigiFab?). Remember to round up even if its 2.3 vials, give 3. [(Dig Serum Concentration(ng/mL)) x wt(kg)] / 100 = # vials

Category: Toxicology

Title: Tricyclic Antidepressants (TCA)

Keywords: tricyclic antidepressant, electrocardiogram, cardiac toxicity (PubMed Search)

Posted: 7/14/2007 by Fermin Barrueto, MD (Emailed: 7/8/2007) (Updated: 12/7/2019)
Click here to contact Fermin Barrueto, MD

Tricyclic Antidepressants (TCA) - Lack of terminal 40msec R wave (R wave in AvR, S wave in I, AvL) means the patient is NOT TCA toxic. - 40msec R wave + QRS >100msec = possible TCA toxicity, treat with NaHCO3 and recheck ECG. - TCA toxicity defined by ECG; if QRS > 100msec, 33% seizures; if QRS > 160msec, 50% v tach Boehnert MT, Lovejoy FH Jr. Value of the QRS duration versus the serum drug level in predicting seizures and ventricular arrhythmias after an acute overdose of tricyclic antidepressants. N Engl J Med. 1985 Aug 22;313(8):474-9.

Category: Toxicology

Title: Urine Drug Screens

Keywords: drug abuse, urine drug screen, cocaine (PubMed Search)

Posted: 7/14/2007 by Fermin Barrueto, MD (Emailed: 7/8/2007) (Updated: 12/7/2019)
Click here to contact Fermin Barrueto, MD

Urine Drug Screens Though we order them often, be sure you know what your results mean: Cannabinoids: an accurate test though clinically not important information, positive for 5 days to a full month with chronic users. Cocaine: the most accurate and precise test, positive for 3-5 days. Amphetamine: the most imprecise with many false positives and false negatives. Cough/cold preparations that contain pseudephedrine, phenylephrine or other decongestants can turn it falsely positive. BDZ: only benzodiazepines that are metabolized to oxazepam will turn positive. You can see false negatives with alprazolam and even lorazepam. Opioids: Semisynthetics like oxycodone and hydrocodone may give false negatives at low levels. This screen will NOT catch methadone, meperidine, fentanyl, propoxyphene, tramadol. PCP: False positives from dextromethorphan and ketamine

Category: Cardiology

Title: Blunt Chest Trauma

Keywords: Chest, Trauma, Aortic, murmur (PubMed Search)

Posted: 7/14/2007 by Amal Mattu, MD (Emailed: 7/8/2007) (Updated: 12/7/2019)
Click here to contact Amal Mattu, MD

The most common valvulopathy after blunt chest trauma is acute aortic insufficiency. These patients will present with a new diastolic murmur. Stability depends on the degree of AI. On the other hand, if a chest trauma patient presents with a new systolic murmur, think about acute septal rupture. These patients are much more often unstable, or may die before arrival. These diagnoses may be missed in the unstable patient because physicians focus on the abdomen in the unstable patient. Pay attention to the heart sounds also!

Category: Cardiology

Title: Calcium Affect on ECG

Keywords: ECG, Calcium, hypercalcemia, hypocalcemia (PubMed Search)

Posted: 7/14/2007 by Amal Mattu, MD (Emailed: 7/8/2007) (Updated: 12/7/2019)
Click here to contact Amal Mattu, MD

Calcium's main effect on the ECG appears to be on the duration of the ST segment, such that: 1. Hypercalcemia shortens the ST segment, producing also a short QTc. 2. Hypocalcemia prolongs the ST segment, producing also a long QTc. As an aside, there are only three conditions in which a short QTc is typically noted: hypercalcemia, digitalis toxicity, and a recently described syndrome that causes sudden death--"the short QT syndrome" (in which the QTc may be < 300ms...that's REALLY short!). As another aside, there are only two conditions that prolong the QTc via prolongation of the ST segment--hypocalcemia and hypothermia.

Category: Cardiology

Title: Infective endocarditis (IE)

Keywords: Endocarditis, treatment, vancomycin (PubMed Search)

Posted: 7/14/2007 by Amal Mattu, MD (Emailed: 7/8/2007) (Updated: 12/7/2019)
Click here to contact Amal Mattu, MD

Infective endocarditis (IE) The most common overall cause of IE is Streptococcus viridans. The most common cause of IE in injection drug users is Staphylococcus aureus. The most common cause of IE in patients with prosthetic valves is also Staphylococcus species; in the first two months postop coag-negative Staphylococcus predominates, and after that the most common causes are Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus viridans, and enterococcus. In treating IE of prosthetic valves and/or in injection drug users, the addition of rifampin to the standard regimen of nafcillin/vancomycin + gentamycin is often recommended in order to add additional gram positive coverage.

Category: Cardiology

Title: Helpful clues to distinguishing pericarditis vs. STEMI

Keywords: Pericarditis, STEMI, ECG (PubMed Search)

Posted: 7/14/2007 by Amal Mattu, MD (Emailed: 7/8/2007) (Updated: 12/7/2019)
Click here to contact Amal Mattu, MD

Helpful clues to distinguishing pericarditis vs. STEMI Pericarditis: PR depression in multiple leads, PR elevation > 2 mm in aVR; friction rub (specific though not sensitive) Remember that PR depression mainly only shows up in viral pericarditis, not other types STEMI: horizontal or convex upwards (like a tombstone) STE, ST depression in any lead aside from aVR and V1, STE in III > II

Category: Critical Care

Title: Subclavian central venous access

Keywords: Venous, catheter, subclavian (PubMed Search)

Posted: 7/14/2007 by Mike Winters, MD (Emailed: 7/8/2007) (Updated: 12/7/2019)
Click here to contact Mike Winters, MD

Subclavian central venous access * Many consider the subclavian to be the preferred route for central venous access * Approximately 5-6% of subclavian's are associated with misdirection of the catheter tip into the internal jugular * Directing the J-tip of the guidewire caudally significantly reduces the incidence of malpositioning Reference: Tripathi M, et al. Direction of the J-Tip of the guidewire, in seldinger technique, is a significant risk factor in misplacement of subclavian vein catheters: a randomized, controlled study. Anesth Analg 2005;100:21-4.

Category: Toxicology

Title: Valproic acid toxicity

Keywords: Valproic acid (PubMed Search)

Posted: 10/16/2014 by Hong Kim, MD, MPH (Emailed: 12/7/2019)
Click here to contact Hong Kim, MD, MPH

Valproic acid (VPA) is often used to treat seizure disorder and mania as a mood stabilizer. The mechanism of action involves enhancing GABA effect by preventing its degradation and slows the recovery from inactivation of neuronal Na+ channels (blockade effect).

VPA normally undergoes beta-oxidation (same as fatty acid metabolism) in the liver mitochondria, where VPA is transported into the mitochondria by carnitine shuttle pathway.

In setting of an overdose, carnitine is depleted and VPA undergoes omega-oxidation in the cytosol, resulting in a toxic metabolite.

Elevation NH3 occurs as the toxic metabolite inhibits the carbomyl phosphate synthase I, preventing the incorporation of NH3 into the urea cycle.

Signs and symptoms of acute toxicity include:

  • GI: nausea/vomiting, hepatitis
  • CNS: sedation, respiratory depression, ataxia, seizure and coma/encephalopathy (with serum concentration VPA: > 500 mg/mL)

Laboratory abnormalities

  • Serum VPA level: signs of symptoms of toxicity does not correlate well with serum level.
  • NH3: elevated
  • Liver function test: elevated AST/ALT
  • Basic metabolic panel: hypernatremia, metabolic acidosis
  • Complete blood count: pancytopenia

Treatment: L-carnitine

  • Indication: hyperammonemia or hepatotoxicity
  • Symptomatic patients: 100 mg/kg (max 6 gm) IV (over 30 min) followed by 15 mg/kg IV Q 4 hours until normalization of NH3 or improving LFT
  • Asymptomatic patients: 100 mg/kg/day (max 3 mg) divided Q 6 hours.

Show References

Category: Critical Care


Keywords: Alarm Fatigue (PubMed Search)

Posted: 5/20/2019 by Robert Brown, MD (Emailed: 12/7/2019) (Updated: 12/7/2019)
Click here to contact Robert Brown, MD


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

Show More In-Depth Information

Show References

Category: Visual Diagnosis

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

Posted: 4/7/2014 by Haney Mallemat, MD (Emailed: 12/7/2019) (Updated: 12/7/2019)
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)


Show Answer

Category: Toxicology

Title: Octreotide for Pediatric Sulfonylurea Poisoning

Keywords: octreotide, sulfonylurea (PubMed Search)

Posted: 4/12/2013 by Bryan Hayes, PharmD (Emailed: 12/7/2019) (Updated: 4/13/2013)
Click here to contact Bryan Hayes, PharmD

Methods: A large retrospective case series evaluated 121 children under 6 years old with hypoglycemia from a sulfonylurea ingestion.


  • In addition to dextrose, patients who received octreotide had a median of zero hypoglycemic episodes after octreotide (compared to 2 before treatment, p < 0.0001).
  • Median blood glucose concentrations after receiving octreotide were also higher (62 mg/dL vs 44, p < 0.001).
  • Most required only 1 dose of octreotide with no reported adverse effects.

Authors' Conclusion: Octreotide administration decreases the number of hypoglycemic events and increases blood glucose concentrations in children with sulfonylurea ingestion.

Show References

Category: Infectious Disease

Title: Avian Influenza H7N9

Posted: 4/12/2013 by Andrea Tenner, MD (Emailed: 12/7/2019) (Updated: 12/7/2019)
Click here to contact Andrea Tenner, MD

General Information:

-As of April 5th, 14 confirmed cases of a new influenza A virus (H7N9) have occurred in China.  Six of those have died. 

-Presumed transmission via infected poultry in bird markets, and thus far no person-to-person transmission has occurred.

-Likely susceptible to oseltamavir or inhaled zanamivir


Area of the world affected:


Relevance to the US physician:

- Suspect in patients with a respiratory illness and appropriate travel history.

- Refer to CDC within 24 hours if test positive for flu A but cannot be subtyped

- If H7N9 is suspected, patients should be under droplet and airborne precautions


Bottom Line:

No human-to-human transmission from H7N9 thus far, but the possibility exists.  Any unsubtypeable influenza A patient should be placed on droplet and airborne precautions and oseltamavir or zanamivir started immediately.


University of Maryland Section of Global Emergency Health
Author: Andi Tenner, MD, MPH


Show References

Category: Critical Care

Title: Adrenal Insufficiency

Posted: 4/12/2013 by Haney Mallemat, MD (Emailed: 12/7/2019) (Updated: 12/7/2019)
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.

• 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)


Show References