Journal of Emergency Medicine

Published by Elsevier
Print ISSN: 0736-4679
It has been shown that the 2-h Stratus II delta creatine kinase-MB (CK-MB) is more sensitive and is equally specific compared to a 2-h Stratus II CK-MB and to a 2-h Stratus II delta cardiac troponin-I (DeltacTnI) for identification of acute myocardial infarction and adverse outcome (AO). Because the newest generation of Stratus (Stratus CS) cTnI assay has an analytical sensitivity of 0.03 ng/mL, compared to 0.35 ng/mL for the first generation assay, we undertook a small pilot study of 120 chest pain patients to compare sensitivities and specificities for 30-day AO of the Stratus CS DeltacTnI immunoassay to the DeltaCK-MB and DeltacTnI, as measured by the Abbott Axsym immunoassay, and to the DeltaCK-MB, as measured by the Stratus CS. A Stratus CS DeltacTnI > or = +0.02 ng/mL in 2 h was more sensitive (61.9%) than an Axsym DeltaCK-MB > or = +1.3 ng/mL (38.1%; p = 0.03), a Stratus CS DeltaCK-MB > or = +0.4 ng/mL (38.1%; p = 0.03), and an Axsym DeltacTnI > or = +0.3 ng/mL (33.3%; p = 0.03) for 30-day AO. There were no differences in specificities. Our data support enhanced identification of ACS with a second generation cTnI assay. Pending larger studies, patients with a rise in DeltacTnI of > or = +0.02 ng/mL in 2 h, as measured by the Stratus CS immunoassay, should receive consideration for aggressive anti-ischemic therapy and further diagnostic testing prior to making an exclusionary diagnosis of non-ischemic chest pain.
We describe a case of withdrawal from the gamma hydroxybutyric acid (GHB) precursors gamma butyrolactone and 1,4-butanediol. Symptoms included visual hallucinations, tachycardia, tremor, nystagmus, and diaphoresis. Administration of benzodiazepines and phenobarbital successfully treated the withdrawal symptoms. As predicted from the metabolism of gamma butyrolactone and 1,4-butanediol to GHB, the symptoms were nearly identical to those reported from GHB withdrawal. Because GHB is now illegal in the United States, individuals have begun abusing the legal and easier to acquire GHB precursors. More frequent cases of both abuse and withdrawal from these GHB precursors can be expected.
The purpose of this study was to determine if pelvic ultrasound was useful in suggesting the diagnosis of ectopic pregnancy in patients with a quantitative B-hCG level less than 1000 mIU/mL. We performed a retrospective review of all patients evaluated and diagnosed with ectopic pregnancy in the emergency departments of seven area hospitals during a ten month period. Sixty-four patients with a confirmed diagnosis of ectopic pregnancy, a pelvic ultrasound, and a quantitative B-hCG level were included in the study. Eighteen (28%) of these patients had a quantitative B-hCG less than 1000 mIU/mL. Sixteen of the eighteen patients (89%) with a B-hCG level less than 1000 mIU/mL had sonographic findings suggestive of ectopic pregnancy, such as fluid in the cul-de-sac, or a complex adnexal or cystic mass. Overall, 25% of all patients diagnosed with an ectopic pregnancy during this time period had a quantitative B-hCG level less than 1000 mIU/mL and an ultrasound suggestive for ectopic pregnancy. Pelvic ultrasound is useful as a screening tool in the initial evaluation of suspected ectopic pregnancy, even when the quantitative B-hCG level is below 1000 mIU/mL.
Despite efforts to improve preparedness training for health professionals, disaster medicine remains a peripheral component of traditional medical education in the United States (US) and is a rarely studied topic in the medical literature. Using a pre-/post-test design, we measured the extent to which 4(th)-year medical students perceive, rapidly learn, and apply basic concepts of disaster medicine via a novel curriculum. Via a modified Delphi technique, an expert curriculum panel developed a 90-min didactic training scenario and two 40-min training exercises for medical students: a hazardous material scene and a surprise mass casualty incident (MCI) scenario with 100 life-sized mannequins. Medical students were quizzed before and after the didactic training scenario about their perceptions and their disaster medicine knowledge. Students rated their overall knowledge as 3.76/10 pretest compared to 7.64/10 after the didactic program. Students' post-test scores improved by 54% and students participating in the MCI drill correctly tagged 94% of the victims in approximately 10 min. The average overall rating for the experience was 4.85/5. The results of this educational demonstration project reveal that students will value and can rapidly learn some core elements of disaster medicine via a novel addition to a medical school's curriculum. We believe the principle of a highly effective and well-received medical student course that can be easily added to a university curriculum has been demonstrated. Further research is needed to validate core competencies and performance-based education goals for US health professional trainees.
Seizures are the most common serious complication of flumazenil usage in adults. We report a prolonged seizure in an 11-month-old child that occurred immediately after the administration of 0.3 mg of flumazenil. Precautions recommended for the administration of flumazenil in adults should also be used in pediatric patients.
The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of September 11, 2001 on anxiety-related visits to selected Emergency Departments (EDs). We performed a retrospective analysis of consecutive patients seen by emergency physicians in 15 New Jersey EDs located within a 50-mile radius of the World Trade Center from July 11 through December 11 in each of 6 years, 1996--2001. We chose by consensus all ICD-9 (International Classification of Diseases, 9th revision) codes related to anxiety. We used graphical methods, Box-Jenkins modeling, and time series regression to determine the effect of September 11 to 14 on daily rates of anxiety-related visits. We found that the daily rate of anxiety-related visits just after September 11th was 93% higher (p < 0.0001) than the average for the remaining 150 days for 2001. This represents, on average, one additional daily visit for anxiety at each ED. We concluded that there was an increase in anxiety-related ED visits after September 11, 2001.
Stingray stings are common along coastal regions of this country and the world. The tail of the stingray contains a barbed stinger attached to a venom gland and contained within an integumentary sheath. During a sting, the stinger and sheath can become embedded in the soft tissue of the victim, and venom is injected into the wound. Stingray venom most often causes severe pain on contact, although the exact mechanism of toxicity is not certain. Hot water immersion of the stung extremity has been reported to be effective in relieving pain associated with the envenomation, but large studies of this therapy have not been performed. We retrospectively reviewed stingray stings presenting to our Emergency Department (ED) over an 8-year period. Cases were divided into acute (group 1, within 24 h of the sting) and subacute (group 2, 24 h or more after the sting) presentations. Charts were abstracted for information concerning the victim's history, physical examination, treatment, diagnostic imaging, and outcome, including the effectiveness of hot water immersion as analgesia, and use of antimicrobials. A total of 119 cases were identified and abstracted, 100 in group 1 and 19 in group 2. Of the group 1 patients initially treated with hot water immersion alone, 88% had complete relief of pain within 30 min without administration of any other analgesic. In the patients who initially received a dose of analgesic along with hot water immersion, none required a second dose of analgesics and all had complete pain relief before discharge. There were no adverse effects (such as thermal burns) with this therapy. Analysis of infectious complications in group 1 patients demonstrated a significant number of patients returning to the ED with wound infections when prophylactic antibiotics were not administered at initial presentation. Our findings suggest that hot water immersion was effective in decreasing or eliminating the pain associated with stingray envenomation in our series. Due to the high potential for bacterial contamination in these puncture wounds, standard antibiotic prophylaxis may be prudent. Although stingray barbs can be radio-opaque, radiography in our series failed to detect barbs or other foreign bodies in stung extremities, although no barbs or other stinger material were found on inspection of wounds.
To characterize the Emergency Department (ED) presentation of necrotizing soft tissue infections (NSTI) and identify severity markers. Procedures: Retrospective chart review of pathologically diagnosed NSTIs presenting to an urban ED from 1990-2001. Cases were identified from a surgical database, ICD-9 search and prospectively. Five Emergency Physicians (EPs) abstracted data using a standardized form. Severe NSTI was defined by any of the following: death, amputation, intensive care unit (ICU) stay >24 h, >300 cm(2) debrided. Severe and non-severe cases were compared using chi-square, Fisher's exact, and multivariate logistic regression testing. The 122 cases were characterized by: injection drug use, 80%; fever, 44%; systolic blood pressure (BP) <100 mm Hg, 21%; white blood cell count (WBC) >20 x 10(9)/L, 43%; median time to operation, 8.4 h; mortality, 16%. The managing EP suspected NSTI in 59%. A systolic BP <100 mm Hg, BUN >18 mg/dL, radiographic soft tissue gas, admission to a non-surgical service and clostridial species were independently associated with severe NSTI. Pathologically defined NSTIs have a wide spectrum of ED presentations and early diagnosis remains difficult.
Background: There are risks to ordering computed tomography (CT) scans. Objective: We set out to determine whether emergency physician attitudes and their predictions of CT ordering behaviors could be influenced by education. Methods: We surveyed emergency physicians at a Level I trauma center with a yearly census of 74,000. Physicians were given a baseline survey that encompassed demographics, attitudes toward CT informed consent, and ordering behaviors. After receiving an education session regarding CT risks, each participant received a follow-up survey. Data analysis was performed using frequencies and chi-squared. Results: Seventy-five physicians participated; 69% residents and 31% attendings; 34% were female and 66% male. Thirteen percent reported they did not know if informed consent was required for CT scans obtained in the Emergency Department. Pre-education, 89% reported sometimes ordering a CT scan due to a consultant request that they felt was not indicated, and 92% reported that they sometimes ordered a CT scan to appease a patient or family. Eighty-five percent reported that they sometimes ordered a CT scan defensively due to malpractice risk. After education, physicians were more likely to believe a patient should give informed consent before CT (p<0.01) and predicted that they would be more likely to discuss the risks/benefits of CT with their patients all of the time (p=0.001). Conclusion: After education about the risks of CT utilization, emergency physicians were more likely to believe that patients should give informed consent before CT scan and predicted that they would be more likely to discuss the risks and benefits of CT with their patients.
We present a retrospective study of 127 cases of amphetamine toxicity in an emergency department (ED). The most common presenting symptoms seen were agitation, hallucinations, suicidal behavior, and chest pain. Toxicologic analysis showed amphetamines are generally not mixed with other stimulants. The vast majority of patients did not require pharmacologic treatment in the ED. Thirteen patients (10%) required admission to the hospital. Toxic medical effects of amphetamine-related compounds seen in our patients are discussed.
Background: The Emergency Department (ED) is an environment at risk for medical errors. Objective: Our aim was to determine the factors associated with the adverse events resulting from medical errors in the ED among patients who were admitted. Methods: This was a prospective observational study. For a 1-month period, we included all ED patients who were subsequently admitted to the medical ward. Detection of medical errors was made by the admitting physician and then validated by two experts who reviewed all available data and medical charts pertaining to the patient's hospital stay, including the first review from the ward physician. Related adverse events resulting from medical errors were then classified by type and severity. Adverse events were defined as medical errors that needed an intervention or caused harm to the patient. Univariate analysis examined relationships between characteristics of both patients and physicians and the risk of adverse events. Results: From 197 analyzed patients, 130 errors were detected, of these, 34 were categorized as adverse events among 19 patients (10%). Seventy-six percent of these were categorized as proficiency errors. The only factors associated with a lower risk of adverse events were the transition of care involving a handoff within the ED (0% vs. 19%; p = 0.03) and the involvement of a resident (junior doctor) in addition to the senior physician (37% vs. 67%; p < 0.01). Conclusions: In our study, the involvement of more than one physician was associated with a lower risk of adverse events.
The presenting symptoms of meningococcemia are protean, and the illness is rapidly progressive and often fatal, making it simultaneously one of the most dangerous and most important illnesses the Emergency Physician can encounter. It attacks the young and it is highly contagious. This report uses one of the many unusual presentations of meningococcemia as a framework for discussing the epidemiology, presentation, diagnosis, and treatment of meningococcal disease.
Emergency Medicine (EM) residency graduates are trained to perform Emergency Medicine bedside ultrasound (EMBU). However, the degree to which they use this skill in their practice after graduation is unknown. We sought to test the amount and type of usage of EMBU among recent residency graduates, and how usage and barriers vary among various types of EM practice settings. Graduates from 14 EM residency programs in 2003-2005 were surveyed on their current practice setting and use of EMBU. There were 252 (73%) graduates who completed the survey. Of the 73% of respondents reporting access to EMBU, 98% had used it within the past 3 months. Access to EMBU was higher in academic (97%) vs. community teaching (79%) vs. community non-teaching settings (62%) (p < 0.001), and in Emergency Departments (EDs) where yearly census exceeded 60,000 visits (87% vs. 65%, p < 0.001). Physicians in academic settings reported "high use" of EMBU more frequently than those in community settings for most modalities. FAST (focused assessment by sonography in trauma) was the most common high-use application and the most useful in practice. The greatest impediment to EMBU use was "not enough time" (61%). Ultrasound usage among recent EM residency graduates is significantly higher in teaching than in community settings and in high-volume EDs. Its use is more widespread than in previous reports in all types of practice. There is a wide range of utilization of ultrasound in the various applications in emergency practice, with the evaluation of trauma being the most common.
Intussusception is a predominantly pediatric diagnosis that is not well characterized among adults. Undiagnosed cases can result in significant morbidity, making early recognition important for clinicians. We describe the presentation, clinical management, disposition, and outcome of adult patients diagnosed with intussusception during a 13-year period. A retrospective study of consecutive adult patients diagnosed with intussusception at a tertiary academic center was carried out from 1996 to 2008. Cases were identified using International Classification of Diseases, 9(th) Revision codes and a document search engine. Data were abstracted in duplicate by two independent authors. Among 148 patients included in the study, the most common symptoms at presentation were abdominal pain (72%), nausea (49%), and vomiting (36%). Twenty percent were asymptomatic. Sixty percent of cases had an identifiable lead point. Patients presenting to the emergency department (ED) (31%) had higher rates of abdominal pain (relative risk [RR] 5.7) and vomiting (RR 3.4), and were more likely to undergo surgical intervention (RR 1.8) than patients diagnosed elsewhere. There were 77 patients who underwent surgery within 1 month; patients presenting with abdominal pain (RR 2.2), nausea (RR 1.7), vomiting (RR 1.4), and bloody stool (RR 1.9) were more likely to undergo surgery. Adult intussusception commonly presents with abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting; however, approximately 20% of cases are asymptomatic and seem to be diagnosed by incidental radiologic findings. Patients presenting to an ED with intussusception due to a mass as a lead point or in an ileocolonic location are likely to undergo surgical intervention.
Flow Rates of Tested Large Bore Tubing& (mu-@
Many new products designed to assist in rapid blood infusion are appearing. Some highly touted and routinely used devices for intravenous (IV) infusion have recently been shown to be, at least in part, defective. A tubing with an in-line 150 mu filter (150 mu High-Flow Blood Filter; Saftifilter Blood Administration Sets; Cutter Biological, Berkeley, CA 94710) has recently been introduced to facilitate rapid blood transfusion. It is claimed that at least 8.5 units of blood can be rapidly run through each set before replacement is necessary. To test this under simulated clinical conditions, four sets of ten random units of outdated erythrocytes at 4 to 9 degrees C were each admixed with 250 mL 70 degrees C 0.9 NaCl and infused through the system under a constant 300 mmHg pressure. Two sets infused through unmodified tubing flowed at an average of 25 mL/sec (1500 mL/min) before there was an appreciable slowing of the flow rate. Two sets with 8 Fr catheters attached infused at an average of 22 mL/sec (1320 mL/min) before there was an appreciable slowing of the flow rate. Even after the flow slowed, the 9th and 10th units infused at an average greater than 10 mL/sec (600 mL/min). The tubing/filter exceeded the manufacturer's published claims. This tubing/filter appears to be one element that could be an effective component of a high-flow infusion system.
The diagnosis of subarachnoid hemorrhage remains difficult to establish, yet the sensitivity of increasingly available 16-detector computed tomography (CT) has not been evaluated. The objective of this study was to estimate the sensitivity of 16-detector CT for the diagnosis of non-traumatic subarachnoid hemorrhage in the Emergency Department (ED). A retrospective review was performed in an academic tertiary care hospital. Patients presenting to the ED from September 2003 through December 2004 with symptoms suggestive of subarachnoid hemorrhage and having a final diagnosis of non-traumatic subarachnoid hemorrhage were eligible for study. Diagnosis was established by positive 16-detector CT examination of the brain, or spinal fluid analysis. Patient demographics and results of CT, angiogram, and spinal fluid analysis were reviewed. Sensitivity of 16-detector CT was calculated by comparing CT results and cerebral angiogram results. Refined Wilson Simple Asymptotic 95% confidence intervals were calculated. Sixty-one consecutive patients met the study criteria and had a final diagnosis of non-traumatic subarachnoid hemorrhage. One of these patients did not have subarachnoid hemorrhage identified by 16-detector CT, but had a positive lumbar puncture and an aneurysm confirmed on cerebral angiography. Sensitivity of 16-detector CT for subarachnoid hemorrhage was 97% (95% confidence interval 84-100%). Sixteen-detector CT did not improve detection of non-traumatic subarachnoid hemorrhage when compared with studies using single-detector CT. If there is high clinical suspicion for non-traumatic subarachnoid hemorrhage and non-contrast 16-detector CT scan is negative, further evaluation is suggested.
Malignant airway obstruction affects up to 80,000 patients annually, many of whom will present acutely to the emergency department (ED). This clinical entity should be sought in any patient presenting to the ED with increasing shortness of breath, recurrent chest infections, hemoptysis, and an inability to lie flat. Interventions suggested in malignant airway obstruction include: maintenance of spontaneous ventilation by avoiding respiratory depressing sedation, muscle relaxants or narcotics; changes in patient's position; avoidance of general anesthesia and positive pressure ventilation, if possible; placement of endotracheal tube beyond the level of obstruction; radiotherapy; corticosteroids; availability of helium-oxygen mixtures, cardiopulmonary bypass, or extracorporeal membrane oxygenation. If time allows, further diagnostic studies will be of assistance in assessing the best therapy before definitive intervention.
We describe a case of intermediate syndrome after chlorpyrifos ingestion in a toddler, despite a continuous pralidoxime infusion. A 16-month-old girl ingested a pesticide containing chlorpyrifos. She was brought to an Emergency Department where she became lethargic and tachycardic, and subsequently developed pulmonary edema requiring mechanical ventilation. Pralidoxime 150 mg i.v. was administered twice, and an infusion begun at 15 mg/kg/h. At 24.5 h post-ingestion the child had a normal neurologic examination, showed no signs of cholinergic excess, and was extubated successfully. At 27.5 h post-ingestion the child became flaccid, bradycardic and apneic. She was emergently re-intubated. The child's delayed onset of respiratory arrest and flaccid paralysis after an asymptomatic period is consistent with Intermediate Syndrome. This is an unusual case in that it occurred in a young child, was related to chlorpyrifos, and occurred despite continuous and adequate oxime therapy.
Aortic dissection is a rare occurrence in the pediatric and adolescent population. It has numerous etiologies, including congenital cardiac abnormalities. Aortic dissection has a high mortality rate; therefore, it is essential for the physician to at least consider this diagnosis in the setting this patient presented within their differential of atypical chest pain in the pediatric and adolescent population. The purpose of this case is to consider an aortic dissection as part of the differential in a pediatric or adolescent patient presenting with atypical chest pain and abnormal vital signs. Second, this case demonstrates the diagnostic value of the D-dimer assay as a potential screening tool of aortic dissection. A 16-year-old boy with a benign past medical history presented to the Emergency Department (ED) with sudden onset of chest pain. His diagnostic workup led to a diagnosis of aortic dissection. It is noted that his D-dimer was significantly elevated. It is important to consider aortic dissection as a possibility when assessing the sick adolescent patient. The D-dimer is quite useful as a rapid and inexpensive test in the evaluation and stratification of adolescent chest pain patients in the ED.
Groupings of Cardiac Disorders Observed 
Metabolism of glucose and cell respiration and site of action of the cyanide ion according to Dehon and Lhermitte (2).  
Outcome of Patients Presenting with Conduction Disorders and Treated with Hydroxocobalamin (HC; n 5) 
Outcome of Patients Exhibiting Rhythm Disorders and Treated with Hydroxocobalamin (HC; n 56) 
Mean Hydroxocobalamin and Adrenaline Doses Used in Adult Patients in Initial Cardiocirculatory Insufficiency (n 53 out of 61)
Inhalation of hydrogen cyanide from smoke in structural fires is common, but cardiovascular function in these patients is poorly documented. The objective was to study the cardiac complications of cyanide poisoning in patients who received early administration of a cyanide antidote, hydroxocobalamin (Cyanokit; Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany [in the United States, marketed by Meridian Medical Technologies, Bristol, TN]). The medical records of 161 fire survivors with suspected or confirmed cyanide poisoning were reviewed in an open, multicenter, retrospective review of cases from the Emergency Medical Assistance Unit (Service d'Aide Médical d'Urgence) in France. Cardiac arrest (61/161, 58 asystole, 3 ventricular fibrillation), cardiac rhythm disorders (57/161, 56 supraventricular tachycardia), repolarization disorders (12/161), and intracardiac conduction disorders (5/161) were observed. Of the total 161 patients studied, 26 displayed no cardiac disorder. All patients were given an initial dose of 5 g of hydroxocobalamin. Non-responders received a second dose of 5 g of hydroxocobalamin. Of the patients initially in cardiac arrest, 30 died at the scene, 24 died in hospital, and 5 survived without cardiovascular sequelae. Cardiac disorders improved with increasing doses of hydroxocobalamin, and higher doses of the antidote seem to be associated with a superior outcome in patients with initial cardiac arrest. Cardiac complications are common in cyanide poisoning in fire survivors.
Acute bacterial meningitis is a significant cause of morbidity and mortality throughout the world. It can be difficult to diagnose, as the symptoms and signs are often non-specific. To evaluate the performance of an in-house semi-nested polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay targeting the 16S rRNA gene of Eubacteria for the rapid diagnosis of acute bacterial meningitis using cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) specimens. A total of 112 CSF samples from 112 patients were used in the study. Among these, 32 samples were obtained from confirmed cases of Streptococcus pneumoniae, six samples were obtained from confirmed cases of Haemophilus influenzae, one sample from a confirmed case of Neisseria meningitidis, and 10 cases of clinically suspected acute bacterial meningitis. The remaining 63 CSF samples were obtained from patients with non-infectious illnesses (n = 47) of the central nervous system (CNS) and autopsy-confirmed tuberculous meningitis (n = 16). The assay had an overall sensitivity of 93% (95% confidence interval [CI] 0.81-0.98, negative predictive value = 95%) and a specificity of 98% (95% CI 0.92-1.0, positive predictive value = 98%). These preliminary findings suggest that the semi-nested PCR assay targeting the 16S rRNA gene may be used as a rapid test for the diagnosis of acute bacterial meningitis.
Cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST) is a rare but serious cause of neurologic impairment. Due to its relative rarity, there is limited research that describes the incidence and clinical features of CVST in the emergency department (ED). Objectives: To describe the demographic, clinical, and historical characteristics of patients with CVST who were initially seen in the ED. This is a retrospective analysis of all patients presenting to three urban, tertiary care hospitals between January 2001 and December 2005 who were diagnosed with CVST. Patients were excluded if they were transferred from other hospitals, or admitted directly to the hospital without evaluation in the ED. We use one representative case to describe the presentation, evaluation, and treatment of CVST. Seventeen patients met the inclusion criteria. Patients had a mean age of 42 years. Presenting complaints included headache (70%), focal neurologic complaints (numbness, weakness, aphasia) (29%), seizure (24%), and head injury (12%). Ninety-four percent of patients had a focal neurologic finding in the ED. A likely contributing cause of thrombosis was identified in all but one patient. More than half of the patients had been evaluated in the ED in the previous 60 days. Two patients died, both as a result of their thrombosis and resulting cerebral infarctions and edema. Of the patients who survived, 80% had a good functional outcome. CVST is rare, but it can have significant associated morbidity and mortality. Whereas the clinical outcome and functional outcomes of treated patients can vary, prompt recognition of the disease is important.
Psychological morbidity is a common finding in rescue personnel following a disaster. However, no serious attention has been given to the possibility that hospital-based personnel are also at risk. Therefore, 12 to 16 months after the crash of Continental 1713, 15 subjects who had worked with crash victims and their families only while in the hospital, were given a structured interview. Eight of 15 said they developed at least one symptom in each domain of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder within 2 weeks of the crash; of the remaining 7 subjects, all endorsed at least one re-experiencing symptom. Half also reported serious disruptions at home and in their work with other patients. Thirteen subjects also experienced significant worries about flying and 4 actually changed travel plans. Subjects were still symptomatic at 12 to 18 months, though to a lesser degree. We conclude that the emotional effects of disasters on hospital-based personnel are not trivial.
William Withering's classic description of the effects of digitalis was published in 1785. Although he was largely unaware of the drug's cardiac effects, he successfully treated many patients with congestive heart failure. He also recorded many striking examples of digitalis toxicity. This review highlights Withering's experience with "the foxglove," and summarizes modern concepts of digitalis efficacy and toxicity.
Parvoviruses have long been associated with disabling and even fatal illnesses in animals. The discovery of the human parvovirus B-19 in 1975 (1) and subsequent studies of its effects in humans identified this virus as the causative agent of erythema infectiosum ("fifth disease") in children. (2). Erythema infectiosum (EI) is a common, self-limited infectious disorder in children, easily recognized by the classic "slapped cheek" facial erythema and fine reticular rash. Only in the 1980s have further investigations linked HPV B-19 infection with more significant clinical syndromes, among which is an adult polyarthropathy. This presentation in adults is more common than is currently understood and is easily confused with other symmetric polyarthropathies. Recognition and conservative treatment of this disorder are important for the emergency physician, to whom these patients may present.
To compare epidemiological characteristics of traffic accidents in Japan and Ireland, we analyzed mortality and the negative effect on life expectancy between 1950 and 2000 and generated a multivariate model. The characteristics were similar in the two countries: The time trends showed an increase in mortality followed by a decrease. The mortality rates were about 13 and 5/100,000 for males and females, respectively, in 2000. Correlation coefficients for sex were over 0.9. Age distribution obeyed the natural logarithm regularity. The negative effect on life expectancy was about 0.34 year for males, and 0.13 year for females. The economic level was positively associated with mortality, whereas "number of vehicles owned" was associated negatively. In conclusion, we can take advantage of the broad consistencies in these two countries when we draw up an intervention strategy. Any preventive strategy should be directed to the young, particularly males.
Mass casualty is a sporadic event precipitated by natural or man made causes which can be defined as the need for medical care exceeding the ability to provide it. Many literature reports of mass casualty evolutions depict scenes of chaos and confusion, leading to a need for a standardized approach to assessment, triage, and initial resuscitation. Even with the advent of trained emergency medicine specialists to direct these activities, such a framework would seem highly desirable for other participating primary care specialists. Additionally, a uniform system might be particularly useful in the mass casualty situation where international rescue teams converge on one disaster site. Advanced Trauma Life Support (ATLS) is a standardized approach easily adaptable to triage and resuscitation of multiple patients. Its use and effectiveness in mass casualty, however, has not had prior mention in the literature. This paper presents the first reported adaptation of ATLS principles to mass casualty during the invasion of Grenada. The bulk of 76 patients brought to the Primary Casualty Receiving and Treatment Center (PCRTC) were triaged, stabilized, and resuscitated by three PGY-1 trained, non-trauma-experienced physicians. During the primary survey, 8 major life threatening problems were identified and immediately corrected without loss of life. The ATLS system seemed to provide a comfortable framework for these partially trained physicians. Arguments for its adaptation and use as an international system approach are discussed.
This study aimed to review the presentation and management of patients with organophosphate poisoning admitted to the four tertiary teaching hospitals in Perth, Western Australia, over a 10-year period. The case notes of all 69 patients admitted with a discharge diagnosis of organophosphate poisoning were reviewed. Twenty-two of 25 patients (88%) attempting suicide were admitted to Intensive Care Units (ICUs), with a mean stay of 7 days (range 1-25 days). All but one were men, and two died. The 44 patients with accidental exposure were mainly children and had a mean stay of 2 days, with only seven going to the ICU. All survived. Complications overall included respiratory failure, convulsions, and aspiration pneumonia. Intubation and ventilation were required in 11 patients (16%), with a mean ventilation duration of 6 days (range 1-25 days). We conclude that deliberate ingestion of organophosphates is considerably more toxic than accidental exposure. Men aged 30-50 years were the most likely to attempt suicide with these agents and had prolonged ICU admissions with significant complications and mortality.
Knives cause more disabling injuries than any other type of hand tool. This study investigates knife-related injuries requiring Emergency Department (ED) treatment among children and adults in the United States (US) from 1990 through 2008. A retrospective analysis of data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System of the Consumer Product Safety Commission was conducted. An estimated 8,250,914 (95% confidence interval [CI] 7,149,074-9,352,755) knife-related injuries were treated in US EDs from 1990 to 2008, averaging 434,259 (95% CI 427,198-441,322) injuries annually, or 1190 per day. The injury rate was 1.56 injuries per 1000 US resident population per year. Fingers/thumbs (66%; 5,447,467 of 8,249,410) were injured most often, and lacerations (94%; 7,793,487 of 8,249,553) were the most common type of injury. Pocket/utility knives were associated with injury most often (47%; 1,169,960 of 2,481,994), followed by cooking/kitchen knives (36%; 900,812 of 2,481,994). Children were more likely than adults to be injured while playing with a knife or during horseplay (p < 0.01; odds ratio 9.57; 95% CI 8.10-11.30). One percent of patients were admitted to the hospital, and altercation-related stabbings to the trunk accounted for 52% of these admissions. Knives represent an important source of morbidity and mortality to people of all ages. Manufacturers should develop safer knife designs that incorporate features, such as improved opening and closing mechanisms on pocket knives, to prevent these injuries. Other potential safety efforts include targeted educational interventions and changes in voluntary product safety standards and public policy.
The Midwest floods of 1993 presented multiple emergency preparedness challenges to the six metropolitan medical centers in Des Moines, Iowa. As floodwaters overcame the Des Moines Water Treatment Plant, medical centers were faced with the task of responding to imminent water loss and its associated impact on patient care services and facility operations. Many clinical services were cancelled or diverted to alternate facilities. Ancillary resources were identified and implemented to maintain essential operations. Through effective emergency preparedness and creative improvisation, medical centers were able to overcome the initial crisis, sustain primary services, and ensure continued quality patient care. The article describes how sudden and prolonged water loss affected Des Moines hospitals. It also discusses aspects of hospital emergency preparedness that contributed to successful response.
The purpose of this study was to describe nationally representative characteristics and temporal trends in "left before being seen" (LBBS) visits in US emergency departments (EDs). The ED portion of the federal National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, 1995-2002, was analyzed. Of the 810.6 million ED visits during the 8-year study period, an estimated 11.4 million (1.41%, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.30-1.52) had an LBBS disposition. The number and proportion of LBBS visits have increased over time, from 1.1 million visits in 1995 (1.15%, 95% CI 0.95-1.35) to 2.1 million visits in 2002 (1.92%, 95% CI 1.67-2.17). LBBS patients were more likely to be younger, non-White, Hispanic, urban, and uninsured compared to non-LBBS patients. The number and proportion of LBBS visits have increased over time. LBBS visits disproportionately affect vulnerable populations. These findings suggest that recent strains on the US ED system are adversely affecting healthcare quality and access.
We investigated how patients were evacuated and transported from affected hospitals in the disaster area to backup hospitals following the 1995 catastrophic Hanshin-Awaji earthquake. A retrospective review was conducted of medical records of 6107 patients hospitalized during the first 15 days after the earthquake, collected from 48 affected hospitals in the disaster area and 47 backup hospitals in the surrounding area. Of the 6107 patients, a total of 2290 (38%) were transferred to backup hospitals, consisting of 187 patients (50%) with crush syndrome, 702 (26%) with other traumas, and 1401 (41%) with illness. Of those 2290 patients, 1741 (76%) were transferred from affected hospitals to backup hospitals, while 549 patients (24%) were evacuated directly to backup hospitals. The peak in transport came during the first 4 days. The family car was the most frequently used means of transport; ambulance was used in only 26% of cases, and helicopters were used minimally. There was no notable difference in the percentage of intensive care patients and nonintensive care patients transferred to backup hospitals. The mortality rate for patients with trauma and crush syndrome was significantly higher in the affected hospitals. These results suggest that the existing emergency medical service system was not adequate for this urban earthquake. From our vantage point, we are keenly aware of the need for improved communications between hospitals, a well equipped patient transport system, and a well coordinated disaster response mechanism.
The objectives of this retrospective study were to describe initial clinical profiles and subsequent outcome of adult patients in France who were diagnosed with severe imported malaria, as defined by the World Health Organization (WHO). Forty-two patients diagnosed from 1996 to 2002 were included (median age: 30 years, men: 78%, non-immune persons: 74%, return from Africa: 100%, inappropriate antimalarial chemoprophylaxis: 95%). At the time of hospital admission, jaundice (62%), hyperparasitemia (56%), and prostration (52%) were the most frequent findings, followed by acute renal failure (31%). Other findings, as described by the WHO criteria, were less common. Twenty-three patients presented only with jaundice, hyperparasitemia, or prostration in isolation, or in combination. Of these 23, five non-immune persons subsequently developed coma, shock, acute respiratory distress syndrome or acute renal failure; this led to death in 2 of these cases. This suggests that non-immune persons with imported malaria who present with jaundice, hyperparasitemia, or prostration should be admitted to the intensive care unit for close monitoring.
The purpose of this study is to describe the prevalence and types of injuries incurred by civilian skydivers using contemporary equipment under conventional conditions. Injury data were collected at the World Freefall skydiving convention (WFFC), during two consecutive periods of operation, August 4-13, 2000 and August 3-12, 2001. During the study periods, 8976 skydivers made 117,000 skydives. The First Aid Station at the WFFC treated 204 patients for injuries related to skydiving, at a rate of 17.4/10,000 (injuries/skydives). Most injuries were minor (66%) and required only simple first aid. Significant injuries, defined as those requiring treatment in the emergency department, occurred at a rate of 6.0/10,000 (injuries/skydives). The rate of hospitalization was 1.8/10,000 skydives. There was one fatality during this study. We believe these results provide a current update regarding the risk and types of injury related to recreational skydiving.
The Emergency Medicine literature has described levels of medical care for mass gatherings in the United States, including for the Los Angeles 1984 Summer and Calgary 1988 Winter Olympic Games. However, there are limited data to describe the type and number of illness or injury that may occur during mass gatherings in an alpine winter environment. To describe the epidemiology of illness and injury seen among spectators at the alpine and snowboarding venues during the Salt Lake City 2002 Winter Olympic Games, we conducted a retrospective review of the Salt Lake City 2002 Olympic Medical Care database for all patient encounters during the operational period of the Games at the alpine and snowboarding venues. The three venues included were: Deer Valley Resort (DVR), Park City Mountain Resort (PCM), and Snowbasin Resort (SBA). Each venue had a medical clinic located on site for spectators and another for athletes. Physicians, nurses, emergency medical technicians, and therapists staffed the clinics. The database was created by Inter-mountain Health Care (IHC) in conjunction with Salt Lake City 2002 Winter Olympic staff and consisted of descriptive reports of all patient encounters from all venues including demographic, epidemiology, and outcome information. IHC maintains the database, and was the sole medical provider for the Games. Each venue had at least 6 days of competition events. Over the 19 days of the Olympiad, a total of 410,160 spectators and 3,961 competitive athletes attended the three venues. There were 841 spectators evaluated and treated at the venue clinics, and mobile medical staff treated 262 spectators. The top five spectator clinic diagnostic categories were: sprain/strain (n=108), miscellaneous trauma (n=103), respiratory (n=88), miscellaneous medical (n=69), and digestive (n=52). Fifty spectators required transport to a hospital for additional care: 27 required transfer by ground ambulance and the remainder were transported by private vehicle. The overall spectator medical utilization rate was 26.9. In conclusion, the rate and acuity of patients seen at the alpine venues during the 2002 Winter Olympic Games was low. Nevertheless, we recommend full on-site physician and nurse staffing with advanced trauma and cardiac life support available during similar events.
Top-cited authors
Gary M. Vilke Md
  • University of California, San Diego
Theodore C Chan
  • University of California, San Diego
Peter Rosen
  • Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
Jonathan Olshaker
  • Boston University
Brit Long
  • Brooke Army Medical Center