Round table in-depth discussions with 2 or more EM Cases guest experts, inherently peer reviewed, and edited for a podcast
Most of us in North America live in cultures that almost never talk about death and dying. And medical progress has led the way to a shift in the culture of dying, in which death has been medicalized. While most people wish to die at home, every decade has seen an increase in the proportion of deaths that occur in hospital. Death is often seen as a failure to keep people alive rather than a natural dignified end to life. This is at odds with what a lot of people actually want at the end of their lives: 70% of hospitalized Canadian elderly say they prefer comfort measures as apposed to life-prolonging treatment, yet as many as ⅔ of these patients are admitted to ICUs.
Quality End of Life Care in Emergency Medicine is not widely taught. Most of us are not well prepared for death in our EDs – and we should be. There’s no second chance when it comes to a bad death like there is if you screw up a central line placement, so you need the skills to do it right the first time.
To recognize when comfort measures and compassion are what will be best for our patients, is just as important as knowing when to intervene and treat aggressively in a resuscitation. Emergency physicians should be able to recognize not only the symptoms and patterns that are common in the last hours to days of life, but also understand the various trajectories over months or years toward death, if they’re going to provide the high quality end of life care that patients deserve.
So, with the help of Dr. Howard Ovens, a veteran emergency physician with over 25 years of experience who speaks at national conferences on End of Life Care in Emergency Medicine, Dr. Paul Miller, an emergency physician who also runs a palliative care unit at McMaster University and Dr. Shona MacLachlan who led the palliative care stream at the CAEP conference in Edmonton this past June, we'll help you learn the skills you need to assess dying patients appropriately, communicate with their families effectively, manage end of life symptoms with confidence and much more...
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Current estimates of the prevalence of obesity are that a quarter of adult Canadians and one third of Americans are considered obese with approximately 3% being morbidly obese. With the proportion of patients with a BMI>30 growing every year, you’re likely to manage at least one obese patient on every ED shift. Obese patients are at high risk of developing a host of medical complications including diabetes, hypertension, coronary artery disease, peripheral vascular disease, biliary disease, sleep apnea, cardiomyopathy, pulmonary embolism and depression, and are less likely compared to non-obese adults to receive timely care in the ED.
Not only are these patients at higher risk for morbidity and mortality, but obesity emergency management is complicated by the patient’s altered cardiopulmonary physiology and drug metabolism. This can make their acute management much more challenging and dangerous. To help us gain a deeper understanding of the challenges of managing obese patients and elucidate a number of important differences as well as practical approaches to obesity emergency management, we welcome Dr. Andrew Sloas, the founder and creator of the fantastic pediatric EM podcast PEM ED, Dr. Richard Levitan, a world-famous airway management educator and innovator and Dr. David Barbic a prominent Canadian researcher in obesity in emergency medicine from University of British Columbia....
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A recent needs assessment completed in Toronto found that Emergency providers are undereducated when it comes to the Emergency Management of Sickle Cell Disease. This became brutally apparent to me personally, while I was researching this topic. It turns out that we’re not so great at managing these patients. Why does this matter?
These are high risk patients.
In fact, Sickle Cell patients are at increased risk for a whole slew of life threatening problems. One of the many reasons they are vulnerable is because people with Sickle Cell disease are functionally asplenic, so they’re more likely to suffer from serious bacterial infections like meningitis, osteomyelitis and septic arthritis. For a variety of reasons they’re also more likely than the general population to suffer from cholycystitis, priapism, leg ulcers, avascular necrosis of the hip, stroke, acute coronary syndromes, pulmonary embolism, acute renal failure, retinopathy, and even sudden exertional death. And often the presentations of some of these conditions are less typical than usual.
Those of you who have been practicing long enough, know that patients with Sickle Cell Disease can sometimes present a challenge when it comes to pain management, as it’s often difficult to discern whether they’re malingering or not. It turns out that we’ve probably been under-treating Sickle Cell pain crisis pain and over-diagnosing patients as malingerers.
Then there are the sometimes elusive Sickle Cell specific catastrophes that we need to be able to pick up in the ED to prevent morbidity, like Aplastic Crisis for example, where prompt recognition and swift treatment are paramount. A benign looking trivial traumatic eye injury can lead to vision threatening hyphema in Sickle Cell patients and can be easy to miss.
In this episode, with the help of Dr. Richard Ward, Toronto hematologist and Sickle Cell expert, and Dr. John Foote, the Residency Program Director for the CCFP(EM) program at the University of Toronto, we’ll deliver the key concepts, pearls and pitfalls in recognizing some important sickle cell emergencies, managing pain crises, the best fluid management, appropriate use of supplemental oxygen therapy, rational use of transfusions and more...
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Pain is the most common reason for seeking health care. It accounts for 80% of ED visits. The WHO has declared that “optimal pain treatment is a human right”. As has been shown in multiple ED-based Pediatric pain management studies, Pediatric pain is all too often under-estimated and under-treated. Why does this matter? Under-estimating and under-treating pediatric pain may have not only short term detrimental effects but life-long detrimental effects as well; not to mention, screaming miserable children disturbing other patients in your ED and complaints to the hospital from parents. Whether it’s venipuncture, laceration repair, belly pain or reduction of a fracture we need to have the skills and knowledge to optimize efficient and effective pain management in all the kids we see in the ED. What are the indications for intranasal fentanyl? intranasal ketamine? Why should codeine be contra-indicated in children? How do triage-initaited pain protocols improve pediatric pain management? Which are most effective skin analgesics for venipuncture? To help you make these important pediatric pain management decisions, in this podcast we have one of the most prominent North American researchers and experts in Emergency Pediatric pain management, Dr. Samina Ali and not only the chief of McMaster Children’s ED but also the head of the division of Pediatric EM at McMaster University, Dr. Anthony Crocco.
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In the first of our series on Highlights from North York General's Emergency Medicine Update Conference, Dr. Kylie Bosman discusses Backboard and Collar Nightmares. The idea that backboards and c-spine collars prevent spinal cord injuries came from level 3 evidence in the 1960's and there has never been an RCT to prove this theory. In fact a Cochrane review on the topic in 2007 concluded that "the effect of pre-hospital spinal immobilisation on mortality, neurological injury, spinal stability and adverse effects in trauma patients remains uncertain" and that "the possibility that immobilisation may increase mortality and morbidity cannot be excluded". There have subsequently been several observational studies that describe increased morbidity and mortality associated with backboard and collars in a subset of patients. Dr. Bosman argues that the time has long past that a major paradigm shift needs to occur toward a safer more rational use of backboards and collars in our trauma patients.
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For years we’ve been transfusing red cells in the ED to patients who don’t actually need them. A study looking at trends in transfusion practice in the ED found that about 1/3 of transfusions given were deemed totally inappropriate. As we explained in previous EM Cases episodes, there have been a whole slew of articles in the literature over the years that have shown that morbidity and mortality outcomes with lower hemoglobin thresholds, like 70g/L for transfusing ICU patients (TRICC trial), patients in septic shock (TRISS trial), and patients with GI bleeds are similar to outcomes with traditional higher hemoglobin thresholds of 90 or 100g/L. We’re simply transfusing blood way too much! The American Association of Blood Banks in conjunction with the American Board of Internal Medicine’s Choosing Wisely campaign, as one of its 5 statements on overuse of procedures, stated, “don’t transfuse iron deficiency without hemodynamic instability”.
So, in this episode with the help of Transfusion specialist, researcher and co-author of the American Association of Blood Banks transfusion guidelines Dr. Jeannie Callum, Transfusion specialist and researcher Dr. Yulia Lin, and 'the walking encyclopedia of EM' Dr. Walter Himmel, we give you an understanding of why it’s important to avoid red cell transfusions in certain situations, why IV iron is sometimes a better option in a significant subset of anemic patients in the ED, and the practicalities of exactly how to administer IV iron.
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In this Part 2 of EM Cases' Highlights from Whistler's Update in EM Conference 2015 Dr. David Carr gives you his top 5 pearls and pitfalls on ED antibiotic use including when patients with sinusitis really require antibiotics, when oral antibiotics can replace IV antibiotics, how we should be dosing Vancomycin in the ED, the newest antibiotic regimens for gonorrhea and the mortality benefit associated with antibiotic use in patients with upper GI bleeds. Dr. Chris Hicks gives you his take on immediate PCI in post-cardiac arrest patients with a presumed cardiac cause and The Modified HEART Score to safely discharge patients with low risk chest pain.
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Pediatric DKA was identified as one of key diagnoses that we need to get better at managing in a massive national needs assessment conducted by the fine folks at TREKK – Translating Emergency Knowledge for Kids – one of EM Cases’ partners who’s mission is to improve the care of children in non-pediatric emergency departments across the country. You might be wondering - why was DKA singled out in this needs assessment?
It turns out that kids who present to the ED in DKA without a known history of diabetes, can sometimes be tricky to diagnose, as they often present with vague symptoms. When a child does have a known history of diabetes, and the diagnosis of DKA is obvious, the challenge turns to managing severe, life-threatening DKA, so that we avoid the many potential complications of the DKA itself as well as the complications of treatment - cerebral edema being the big bad one.
The approach to these patients has evolved over the years, even since I started practicing, from bolusing insulin and super aggressive fluid resuscitation to more gentle fluid management and delayed insulin drips, as examples. There are subtleties and controversies in the management of DKA when it comes to fluid management, correcting serum potassium and acidosis, preventing cerebral edema, as well as airway management for the really sick kids. In this episode we‘ll be asking our guest pediatric emergency medicine experts Dr. Sarah Reid, who you may remember from her powerhouse performance on our recent episodes on pediatric fever and sepsis, and Dr. Sarah Curtis, not only a pediatric emergency physician, but a prominent pediatric emergency researcher in Canada, about the key historical and examination pearls to help pick up this sometimes elusive diagnosis, what the value of serum ketones are in the diagnosis of DKA, how to assess the severity of DKA to guide management, how to avoid the dreaded cerebral edema that all too often complicates DKA, how to best adjust fluids and insulin during treatment, which kids can go home, which kids can go to the floor and which kids need to be transferred to a Pediatric ICU.
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This is Part 1 of EM Cases' series on Diagnostic Decision Making with Walter Himmel, Chris Hicks and David Dushenski discussing the intersection of evidence-based medicine, cognitive bias and systems issues to effect our diagnostic decision making in Emergency Medicine. In this episode we first discuss 5 strategies to help you master evidence-based diagnostic decision making to minimize diagnostic error, avoid over-testing and improve patient care including:
1. The incorporation of patients' values and clinical expertise into evidence-based decisions
2. Critically appraising diagnostic studies
3. Understanding that diagnostic tests are not perfect
4. Using the concept of test threshold to guide work-ups
5. Understanding that the predictive value of a test depends on the prevalence of disease
We then go on to review some of the factors that play into the clinician’s and patient’s risk tolerance in a given clinical encounter, how this plays into shared decision making and the need to adjust our risk tolerance in critical situations. Finally, we present some strategies to prevent over-testing while improving patient care, patient flow and ethical practice.
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This EM Cases episode is Part 1 of The Highlights of The University of Toronto, Divisions of Emergency Medicine, Update in EM Conference from Whistler 2015 with Paul Hannam on Pearls and Pitfalls of Intraosseus Line Placement, Anil Chopra on who is at risk and how to prevent Contrast Induced Nephropathy, and Joel Yaphe on the Best of EM Literature from 2014, including reduction of TMJ dislocations, the TRISS trial (on transfusion threshold in sepsis), PEITHO study for thrombolysis in submassive PE, Co-trimoxazole and Sudden Death in Patients Receiving ACE inhibitors or ARBs, the effectiveness and safety of outpatient Tetracaine for corneal abraisons, chronic effects of shift work on cognition and much more...
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