emergency medicine psychiatry

Ep 115 Emergency Management of the Agitated Patient

Managing acutely agitated patients can cause anxiety in even the most seasoned emergency doctor. These are high risk patients and they are high risk to you and your ED staff. It’s important to understand that agitation or agitated delirium is a cardinal presentation – not a diagnosis. There is pathology lurking beneath - psychiatric, medical, traumatic and toxicological diagnoses driving these patients and we just won’t know which until we can safely calm them down...

BCE 75 Reuben Strayer’s Agitated Patient

In anticipation of Episode 115 Management of the Agitated Patient, Dr. Reuben Strayer tells the story of the case that got him interested in developing an expertise around management of the agitated patient that includes an important simple pitfall and pearl about physical restraint. It that could prevent a death in your ED...

Best Case Ever 50 – Delirium Tremens

In anticipation of EM Cases Episode 87 on Alcohol Withdrawal Dr. Sara Gray describes her Best Case Ever of severe alcohol withdrawal and Delirium Tremens from Janus General. Also on this podcast Dr. Anand Swaminathan reacts to Episode 86 Emergency Management of Hyperkalemia and discusses the use of calcium in the setting of digoxin toxicity. Early recognition and treatment of Delirium Tremens - a rapid onset of severe alcohol withdrawal accompanied by delirium and autonomic instability about 3-10 days after the appearance of withdrawal symptoms - is key to preventing long term morbidity and mortality...

Episode 85 – Medical Clearance of the Psychiatric Patient

Psychiatric chief complaints comprise about 6 or 7% of all ED visits, with the numbers of psychiatric patients we see increasing every year. The ED serves as both the lifeline and the gateway to psychiatric care for millions of patients suffering from acute behavioural or psychiatric emergencies. As ED docs, besides assessing the risk of suicide and homicide, one of the most important jobs we have is to determine whether the patient’s psychiatric or behavioral emergency is the result of an organic disease process, as opposed to a psychological one. There is no standard process for this. With the main objective in mind of picking up and appropriately managing organic disease while improving flow, decreasing cost and maintaining good relationships with our psychiatry colleagues, we have Dr. Howard Ovens, Dr. Brian Steinhart and Dr. Ian Dawe discuss this controversial topic...

Best Case Ever 48 – Organic vs Psychiatric Illness

Sometimes what initially appears to be a psychiatric illness turns out to be an organic illness, and vise versa. In our assessment of the patient with altered behaviour, it is critical to drill down and dissect apart the type of hallucinations a patient might be displaying, whether the demented patient is simply suffering from worsening dementia or alternatively has acute delirium (which carries a high mortality rate), and whether their somatic complaints might be due to depression or a psychotic psychiatric illness. In anticipation of our upcoming episode on Medical Clearance of the Psychiatric Patient Dr. Brian Steinhart tells the story of his Best Case Ever, reminding us of some of the clinical clues that can help us in our approach to the patient with altered behaviour, so that we avoid misdiagnosing a psychiatric illness with an organic one, or even worse, an organic illness with a psychiatric one...

Episode 74 Opioid Misuse in Emergency Medicine

Pain leads to suffering. Opioid misuse leads to suffering. We strive to avoid both for our patients. On the one hand, treating pain is one of the most important things we do in emergency medicine to help our patients and we need to be aggressive in getting our patients' pain under control in a timely, effective, sustained and safe fashion. This was the emphasis 10-20 years ago after studies showed that we were poor at managing pain and our patients were suffering. On the other hand, opioid dependence, addiction, abuse and misuse are an enormous public health issue. Opioid misuse in Emergency Medicine has become a major problem in North America over the past 10 years at least partly as a reaction to the years that we were being told that we were failing at pain management. As Dr. Reuben Strayer said in his SMACC talk on the topic: “Opioid misuse explodes in our face on nearly every shift, splattering the entire department with pain and suffering, and addiction and malingering and cursing and threats and hospital security, and miosis and apnea and naloxone and cardiac arrest.” So how do we strike a balance between managing [...]

Best Case Ever 41 Opiate Misuse and Physician Compassion

Opiate misuse is everywhere. Approximately 15-20% of ED patients in the US are prescribed outpatient opiates upon discharge. In Ontario, about 10 people die accidentally from prescription opiates every week. Between 1990 and 2010, drug overdose deaths in the US increased by almost four fold, eclipsing the rate of death from motor vehicle collisions in 2009. This was driven by deaths related to prescription opiates, which now kill more people than heroin and cocaine combined. Opiates are the most prescribed class of medication in the US. In 2010, one out of every eight deaths among persons aged 25 to 34 years was opiate-related. Four out of 5 new heroin users report that their initial drug was a prescription opiate. In Ontario, three times the people died from opiate overdose than from HIV in 2011. Yet, we are expected to treat pain aggressively in the ED. Dr. Reuben Strayer, the brains behind the fantastic blog EM Updates tells his Best Case Ever, in which he realizes the importance of physician compassion in approaching the challenging drug seekers and malingerers that we manage in the ED on a regular basis. This Best Case Ever is in anticipation of an upcoming main episode in which Dr. Strayer and toxicologist Dr. David Juurlink discuss how to strike a balance between managing pain effectively and providing the seed for perpetuating a drug addiction or feeding a pre-existing drug addiction, and how we best take care of our patients who we suspect might have a drug misuse problem.

Episode 2: Excited Delirium

Dr. Margaret Thompson, Canada's toxicology guru and Dr. Dan Cass review the clinical presentation, precipitating factors and important do's and don'ts in managing patients with Excited Delirium Syndrome to prevent sudden death. They update us on the most current guidelines for Excited Delirium Syndrome and discuss the prevalent theories to explain why many of these patients have cardiac arrests. Excited Delirium Syndrome has recently been recognized by the American College of Emergency Physicians as a true medical emergency in which, typically, a young obese male, often under the influence of sympathomimetic drugs, becomes acutely delirious and displays super-human strength, tachypnea, profuse sweating and severe agitation. Usually, there is a prolonged and continued struggle with law enforcement despite physical restraints . Severe acidosis, rhabdomyolysis and hyperkalemia ensue, often leading to a sudden bradyasystolic cardiac arrest. Listen to this fascinating episode to find out how you can recognize and treat this important syndrome.