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...
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.
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.