Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Surfactant for Hydrocarbon Aspiration

I've seen surfactant administered for alveolar collapse following near-drowning, but this is a case report regarding surfactant use in severe pneumonitis after low viscosity/low volatility lamp oil.  Less than 1mL of similar aspirated hydrocarbons may result in significant lung injury.  In their specific case they administered 80 mL/m2 of surfactant intratracheally as rescue therapy when their patient continued to become hypoxemic despite recruitment maneuvers on mechanical ventilation.

Definitely something to keep in mind depending on the pathophysiology of the lung injury.

"Early administration of intratracheal surfactant (Calfactant) after hydrocarbon aspiration."
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21624880

Monday, June 27, 2011

Kids Are Too Fat For The Broselow Tape Now

Now that increasing numbers of children are overweight and obese (up to 36% of 10 to 17 year olds now), 53% of this pediatric sample from West Virginia fell out of the Broselow tape estimate based on height.  Of these, 77.1% of the incorrect weights were greater than that predicted by the Broselow.

It is West Virginia - not the healthiest state in the U.S. - but any hospital that serves a predominantly disadvantaged population may have similar results, and should realize that they may be under dosing their medications.  The authors suggest only a couple alternative strategies, but I think we're probably just best off using clinical judgement as to whether the tape is accurate in each individual clinical situation.

"Is the Broselow tape a reliable indicator for use in all pediatric trauma patients?"
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21629149

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Mortality Burden of Homelessness

Anyone working in the Emergency Department knows that homelessness and psychiatric disorders go hand-in-hand - and that also goes psychiatric disorders and substance abuse.  This study confirms what we already know about the prevalence of these issues in the homeless population.

The most interesting number I read out of it was that the life expectancy of a homeless male aged 15-24 years was 38.7, and 47.4 for similarly aged homeless females - compared to life expectancies of 60.3 and 64.8 in their general population.  It makes me wonder how much of that life expectancy difference is just the homelessness, or whether it's the psychiatric and substance abuse disorders - I would probably say most of that difference is made up with the substance abuse.

"Psychiatric disorders and mortality among people in homeless shelters in Denmark: a nationwide register-based cohort study."
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21676456

Friday, June 24, 2011

Pediatric Sexual History Should Not Be Neglected

I am torn regarding whether 82% represents appropriate performance on history taking in pediatric adolescent (ages 14 - 19) lower abdominal pain/dysuria/vaginal complaint, or whether that remaining 18% represents potentially uncaptured pathology.  Considering that 76% of patients asked regarding sexual history reported sexual activity, and 83% of their subgroup completing anonymous questionnaires reported sexual activity, I think >90% enquiry regarding sexual activity would be a better target.

So, we're doing a pretty good job - but it could be better.

"Sexual history documentation in adolescent emergency department patients."
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21646260

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Ceftaroline - The New Wonder Drug

Don't use it.

If you're like me, every journal you pick up nowadays has a three page glossy fold-out of some confident-looking fake doctor showing off the new broad-spectrum magic medicine, ceftaroline fosamil (Teflaro).  600mg IV q12, ask your doctor if you should be receiving Teflaro.

So, finally, when I got a booklet mailed to my house, I gave in and looked at the literature.  And, I was almost legitimately defeated by the literature because most of the recent, relevant published literature regarding outcomes in the phase III trials...is written by employees of Forest Laboratories and published in a special "clinical supplement" to an infectious disease journal.  There isn't much data out there that isn't just advertising.

However, my survey of the animal studies, and presuming the human studies aren't blatantly made up, seems to indicate this is a great antibiotic.  It doesn't work against VRE, pseudomonas, ESBL e. coli, ESBL klebsiella, or acinetobacter, but it's active against many strains of MRSA, DNS MRSA, and VISA, along with the other strep and staph we worry about.

Which is exactly why we shouldn't use this antibiotic - it's so good it should be on every hospital's formulary, but locked in a vault with the same key system a nuclear launch requires.  Keep it as third- or fourth-line to prevent additional resistances.  But, don't use it.

Sadly, the article I have for you is just a review of all the manufacturer-supported data - but at least it's not written by them.

"Ceftaroline: a comprehensive update."
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21420284

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Patients Bleed When On Aspirin and Plavix

And they bleed a heck of a lot more on Plavix than Aspirin.  This is probably the first article I've ever read out of Academic Dermatology, and it's mildly relevant to EM in the sense that we perform a lot of minor cutaneous procedures - suturing, I&D, etc.

This is a retrospective review of bleeding associated with minor surgical dermatology, and, the good news, it was rare - at 0.3% of cases on clopidogrel, and even rarer on aspirin alone, and then zero when on neither.  Bleeding doesn't stress us out as much, probably, so this isn't practice changing.  They do importantly mention in their discussion that holding/changing these medications prior to the procedure can be associated with thrombotic complications - I wouldn't be rushing off to give DDAVP to wake any platelets up if I ran into procedural troubles.

"Complications of cutaneous surgery in patients taking clopidogrel-containing anticoagulation."
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21514003

Monday, June 20, 2011

Public Insurance Places Children At Risk

Determining proper payment for healthcare services is a fascinating problem of substantial complexity, and, with the "Affordable Care Act" and various past and future movements towards public insurance, there is a great deal of uncertainty regarding physician payment - both in the amount (public vs. private insurance) or whether (uncompensated care in hospitals, emergency departments).

This is a very interesting study out of NEJM that is applicable to the 70 to 80% of emergency departments we send home with instructions to "follow-up with X".  They nicely demonstrate that, in Chicago, at least, "follow-up with X" is nearly trivially easy with private insurance, and much more difficult if funded by one of their Medicaid providers for children.  Excepting child psychiatry - which is in shortage - when calling a specialist for follow-up claiming to have private insurance, their research assistants could schedule an appointment well over 90% of the time.  Alternatively, when stating they had public insurance for their child, ability to follow-up ranged from 20 to 57%, depending on the specialty.

Not only that, public insurance patients waited a mean of 42 days for their appointment versus 22 days for private insurance, when they looked at clinics that would even accept that insurance option.

And, the clinical scenarios they presented for follow-up were not just routine new patient appointments - they were pediatric patients with legitimate uncontrolled morbid disease with the potential to significantly worsen and impact their overall health.

I don't have a solution to a complex social, financial, and political problem with complex social, financial, and political obstacles - but the more good articles like this are published, the more likely smart folks will start working on solutions.

"Auditing access to specialty care for children with public insurance."
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21675891

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Do Not Use Etomidate/Fentanyl For Orthopedic Reduction In Children

Sometimes, when I read a study, I think to myself - great study!  If only they had sufficient enrollment to have power and validity!  When I read this study, I thought, Heavens to Betsy - I am so glad they only subjected 12 patients to etomidate/fentanyl for sedation.

This is comparing ketamine/midazolam to etomidate/fentanyl for procedural sedation and the authors hoped that, perhaps, the shorter duration of action of etomidate would make it a viable alternative.  But, it isn't.  Objective measures of procedural distress favored ketamine, parents favored ketamine, and the practitioners favored ketamine.  Sedation time and recovery time favored etomidate - but at what cost?  18% of the ketamine group had an adverse event (vomiting, emergency reaction), while 50% of the etomidate group did (hypoxemia, etc.)

Propofol/fentanyl may be considered, but not etomidate/fentanyl.

"Ketamine/midazolam versus etomidate/fentanyl procedural sedation for pediatric orthopedic reductions."
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20502386

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Sensitivity of CT Angiography for Aneurysms

Not exactly the article I was expecting when I pulled it, but mildly interesting nonetheless.  The real applicability of this article is towards those folks who say the LP for SAH is outdated, and we should just proceed with CTA to identify the culprit aneurysm.

As opponents say, many aneurysms identified by CTA are asymptomatic and unrelated to the acute headache in the Emergency Department, and, without the LP, you don't know their clinical relevance.  This study lets them also say that CTA doesn't even necessarily perform well enough at this task to warrant use - it will miss 5% of aneurysms and overcall 3.8%.

However, it must be said, this meta-analysis uses data from a number of old studies that have older CT scanners that were very poor at detecting <4mm aneurysms.  Once you get to 16 and 64 row CT, your sensitivity is closer to 98-99% - and then you have to fall back to the asymptomatic/clinical relevance argument.

"Diagnosing cerebral aneurysms by computed tomographic angiography: meta-analysis"
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21391230

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Neurothrombectomy Devices - Still Not The Answer

Catheter-based endovascular treatment of acute ischemic stroke has been around for several years - this is a nice, concise review of the published literature regarding their use.

The abstract sounds a little more favorably skewed than the actual content of the article - their discussion is appropriately skeptical regarding the efficacy and applicability of this particular treatment modality.  It is certainly true that restoring flow to affected regions in stroke is advantageous, and the theory behind the use of these devices is to mechanically ensure open vessels in situations where systemic thrombolysis may not be efficacious and the disability is likely to be profound.

The problem is, there really isn't any "evidence" in this article.  The published literature on this topic is primarily retrospective cohort/case-reports by industry-affiliated inventors of these devices and, even despite this bias, that literature tends to report unacceptable levels of procedural complications while trying desperately to show benefit.

Regardless, as the authors mention, there are many studies of MERCI and Penumbra ongoing - slowly chasing that inexorable statistical probability of finally performing enough studies that, by chance, one of them will be favorable enough upon which to base widespread marketing efforts.

"Neurothrombectomy devices for the treatment of acute ischemic stroke: state of the evidence"
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21242342

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Patients With Brugada May Have Normal EKGs ...and Then Drop Dead

The sodium-channelopathy that went many years before being described, now increasingly well-known.  More interestingly, the phenotype is apparently autosomal dominant in inheritance.  These investigators use this inheritance to retroactively diagnose deceased family members with a Brugada cause to their sudden cardiac death.

They found, unfortunately, that not only were most individuals who died of Brugada young, most were asymptomatic - and of the five patients for whom they could find an antemortem EKG, only one of them had a typical Type I Brugada pattern, and one had a single lead with a Type III pattern.

I think my take-home point from this article is that, in the young patients presenting with syncope, it's important not just to do the EKG, but also to enquire regarding family history of sudden cardiac death - and then hope whatever cardiologist you refer them to is insightful enough to order a amajaline provocation test if needed.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21636035

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Significant Populations Have No Timely Access to Stroke, Pediatric Trauma Care

These are a couple studies from a family of publications that use population data, GIS mapping tools, and travel times by air and ground to estimate what percentage of the population has access to a certain healthcare resource.  In these two papers, the resources in question are Primary Stroke Centers and Pediatric Trauma Centers.  They estimate that 71% of the pediatric population is within 60 minutes of a pediatric trauma center by ground or air - which is appropriate, because trauma systems are set up to use aeromedical transport.  However - and, depending on what direction the TPA pendulum swings - only 55.4% of the population has access to a stroke center within 60 minutes - by ground, which is typical.  They say this could be increased to 79% within 60 minutes if aeromedical resources were involved, but I think we should wait to establish a greater treatment effect for acute stroke treatment before we go nuts with air travel.

I like maps; I worked with one of the authors (Dr. Branas) on previous iterations of descriptive articles similar to these.  The problem with these articles is the statistic they describe - timeliness of care - may or may not have significant effects on patient outcomes.  And, in theory, the solutions - moving trauma center designations, establishing new stroke centers, increasing aeromedical use, etc., have significant costs and unintended consequences.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20937948
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19487606

Monday, June 13, 2011

Shoulder Reduction - Spanish-Style

Another interesting article regarding shoulder reduction techniques.

Essentially, what I read into shoulder reduction is that - if there many usually successful ways to do something, pretty much anything works.  And, what seems to be the generally accepted way to do it - excepting the scapular manipulation technique - is pulling on it.  What is different between methods seems to be how exactly you apply the traction.

This is a single-operator method with direct axial traction on the distal humerus with one hand and counter-traction on the acromium with the other hand.  The trouble I foresee with this method is that you're fighting a lot of large muscles on the patient with your own, smaller, rotator cuff and shoulder abductors.  I think you'd end up fatiguing before a lot of your patients.

The variation I might suggest is the snowbird technique, where you use the weight of your leg to provide downward traction via stockinette around the forearm.  You can sometimes get away from having to do full procedural sedation if you can perform a technique like this where the patient fatigues before you do.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21620607

Saturday, June 11, 2011

rFactor VII Is Not Safe (Despite Their Conclusions)

When NovoNordisk writes an article analyzing safety data from the CONTROL trial, you get a skewed perspective on the data.  Specifically, if you only read the abstract, you're going to think that it's safer in some ways(ARDS was less), and there was no difference in adverse events (except for all that investigator-reported AMI/NSTEMI).  So, that sounds favorable.

But, the real reason there's no significant differences in outcomes - and the reason why they terminated the trial early - is because the interim data is underpowered to detect a difference.  As you see, the 30-day mortality is 12% vs 11% in favor of placebo - and that wasn't helping NovoNordisk, so they quit before they could reach sufficient statistical power to prove their product was unhelpful.  However, they can now benefit from that same lack of power to detect differences by applying it to the safety aspect, and trumpeting its equivalency in terms of AEs.

When taken in the context of the original trial, this is just a flawed piece of pharmaceutical propaganda to try and prevent the building crackdown on off-label Factor VII use.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21610529

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Single Troponin After 8 Hours of Symptoms

The ACEP guidelines still have, as level B recommendations, that a single cardiac biomaker "8 to 12 hours" after symptom onset is adequate to exclude the diagnosis of NSTEMI.

This study looked at all of Highland's patients that received more than one troponin measurement in their ED.  Then, they looked at all the patients with initially negative troponins, and subsequently positive ones.  And, finally, they tried to see how many of those had symptoms >8 hours.  Their definitions are that troponins <0.06 ng/mL are negative, between 0.06 and 0.6 are indeterminate, and >0.6 are positive.

After starting with 5,596 patients, they had 125 that were negative initially, and then positive.  And, for symptoms greater than 8 hours, a grand total of seven troponins ≤0.06 ng/mL and then subsequently positive, and 18 others that were indeterminate and then subsequently positive.  They then say only two had a diagnosis of ACS.

Regardless, despite the size of the study, when you start talking about these sorts of tiny numbers and getting into splitting hairs on the diagnosis, you're basically working on anecdotal evidence.  So, take it with a grain of salt - you're usually safe in a patient with that symptom duration, but you're working off mostly consensus opinion as opposed to great evidence.

More interesting, really, would be some kind of follow-up on the 1,086 patients that were discharged after a single negative troponin (many of which probably fulfilled the >8 hour criterion) - but there's no way to actually make that sort of follow happen realistically.

http://www.hindawi.com/isrn/cardiology/2011/364728/

Thursday, June 9, 2011

CT Coronary Angiography Screening Is Not Beneficial

Disclaimer: I despise CCTA for low-risk chest pain in the ED.  It leads to additional unnecessary testing, interventions, and harms that outweigh the risk of coronary events in its target population.  Our liability-sensitive practice has us evaluating an ever-increasing cohort of low- and (mostly) zero-risk young chest pain patients, and this is purported to be a test of choice for identifying a zero-zero risk population.

But there are just far too many false positives that have coronary artery disease of uncertain clinical significance.

This is a Korean study that compared 1000 matched controls that did not undergo CCTA with 1000 who did.  215 asymptomatic patients had positive CCTA - defined as any atherosclerotic plaque.  52 had >50% stenosis and 21 had >75% stenosis.

Their control cohort and their CCTA cohort were very similar - and 55-59% low risk, 34-29% intermediate, and 10% high risk based on NCEP risk stratification.

And their control group had a grand total of 1 cardiac event within their 18 month follow-up period, as did a single person in their positive CCTA group.  However, the CCTA group ended up with more additional testing and cardiac revascularization procedures during their follow-up time frames - with no change in outcomes.

Now, these are asymptomatic patients chosen for screening - not the same as our chest pain patients in the ED - but it's another call for caution regarding overtesting and overtreating.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Move Over MRSA - It's VISA and VRSA Time

Is it too late to buy stock in the company that makes linezolid?

This group up in Detroit reviewed 320 patients with MRSA bacteremia and found that 52.5% experienced Vancomycin failure.  Their conclusion states several significant OR for failure, but review of the between-group differences doesn't show a lot of significant differences.  Nursing homes, for example, were the only p < 0.05, and predicted vancomycin success with a p of 0.02.

What is more important than their clinical predictors, however, is their review of the bactericidal activity of vancomycin - and that higher MICs and higher troughs are needed to effectively treat patients.  I've seen our pharmacists recognize this at my hospital as well - the 1g IV Vancomycin standard initial load is transitioning to a weight-based dose.

But, more importantly, what we're probably really observing is the initial stages of the end of vancomycin's utility for MRSA.  And, I hate to see what happens when TMP/SMX stops working, too....

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21460309

Monday, June 6, 2011

Overdiagnosis of Pulmonary Embolism

Another over-testing over-diagnosis article effectively illustrating issues endemic to our current medical culture.

They do a retrospective national database review regarding the impact of the introduction of CTPA protocol for rule-out PE, and note that we've diagnosed three times as many PEs in 2006 as we did in 1998.  And, by detecting more PEs, we managed to reduce mortality attributed to PE...along the same gradually decreasing trendline that was present prior to the introduction of CTPA.

Figure 2 is the truly damning graphic - look at all those extra PEs we're finding and treating for effectively no substantial benefit.  Their secondary analysis was in-hospital anticoagulation complications on patients with any diagnosis of PE, which has jumped 71%.  Thank goodness we can put them on dagibatran now instead of coumadin and not be able to reverse their life-threatening bleeding episodes....

Again, we are testing people who shouldn't be testing, finding disease of uncertain clinical significance, and harming them with overtreatment - and let's not even start with the costs.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21555660

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Physician Perception of Ethnicity Preferences at End Of Life

I'm not sure what this paper definitely adds to the body of literature, but it's been awhile since I read anything on this topic, so I thought it was interesting.

I will give the disclaimer that this has been my limited anecdotal experience during my time in MICU, SICU, PICU etc., that certain ethnic groups were less likely to be amenable to withdrawal of care discussions, transitions to comfort care, hospice, etc., much to our absolute frustration that we were expending inordinate resources to torture some poor ventilated husk of person with no chance of functional recovery.  This study, in a small single-center sample, more or less confirms that we all share that same perception - but, in theory, it doesn't change our practice.

This study surveyed physicians regarding their perceptions of black vs. white end-stage cancer patients, and they tended to believe that a black person would be more likely to want continued aggressive treatment at the end of life.  The remainder of their article, which is a little more difficult to interpret, basically said that regardless of the perceptions, they still recommended the same (in statistical aggregate) treatment to the black vs. white hypothetical cohorts.

While this study didn't find any measurable treatment differences, we've seen all throughout the literature that perception tends towards reality, and that there are many cases of measurable outcomes differences for different ethnicities.  This study just leaves me with a sour taste and more questions than answers.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21460710

Friday, June 3, 2011

Testing For Pulmonary Embolism is More Harmful Than Helpful

This is, in my opinion, the most conceptually important article I have read in the few months I've been posting to this blog.

This is where Dr. Newman and Dr. Schriger, outstanding clinicians and analysts of data, present a compelling case regarding the diagnosis and treatment of pulmonary embolism.  In brief, the authors try to estimate, based on the limited evidence, both the benefits and harm of diagnosis and treatment of pulmonary embolism.  In their review, very few patients were found to benefit from treatment of pulmonary embolism - the existing evidence is weakly supportive of anticoagulation.  Additionally, they show a great many patients were harmed by excessive testing and treatment of clinically unimportant pulmonary embolisms.

This is, while a complicated opinion piece, a lovely summation in a nutshell of the concept that finding more "disease" does not equal better outcomes.  And, depending on the risks of testing and treatment - the barbaric contrast, radiation, and rat poison that diagnosis of PE typically entails - more people would be alive today if we all stopped testing for pulmonary embolism.

This is not unique to pulmonary embolism - this is partly the same issue we encounter with overtesting our low-risk chest pain patients, particularly with CTA.  What this means - and, of course, subject to legal challenge in our bizarre society - is that with our current methods of detection and treatment, society would be better off as a whole if we missed a few pulmonary embolisms in order to find and treat the few clinically relevant ones.  The only shame in this article is that not nearly enough people will read it and take it to heart.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21621091

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Liability Protections For Emergency Services

Smart folks at ACEP - tying liability reform to cost savings, which makes liability protection for Emergency Physicians an easier sell.  I have to say, the training environment these days is so skewed, I don't think anyone graduating now knows how to practice without scanning everyone, as it's become generally the standard of care.  The "quality of care" argument is a little new to me - but I certainly could move patients through more quickly, have less sign-out liability, etc., if I weren't tying up beds waiting for scans.

But, the threat of a lawsuit is a big one.  And it's not just us - so many PMDs refer their patients to the ED for a CT scan - whether the test is indicated, how miserable a malpractice hearing would it be to have testimony from the PMD who thought a CT was indicated after you declined to order it.

Next step beyond liability protection - Press-Ganey protection - for all these patients who expect answers, and CTs at the minimum, and aren't going to fill out very favorable patient satisfaction surveys without getting what they want....

http://www.acep.org/Content.aspx?id=79958

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Hurricane Season

June 1st marks the start of Hurricane season.

Many Emergency Physicians are acutely aware of the need for disaster preparedness, but there are also many areas that have not sustained significant natural calamity and may be complacent.

Most of the expert predictions are expecting above-average Hurricane activity - and the Eastern Pacific wind environment that pushed all of last year's storms out to sea in the Atlantic is not present this year.

We will have a major hurricane event somewhere on U.S. soil this year.  Or, at least, we should be preparing like there will be one.

http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/

And, on a related note, where disasters are like to occur:

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2011/05/01/weekinreview/01safe.html

Two Months

So, it's been two months since I started this little professional development experiment.

April: 31 posts, 49 pageviews
May: 30 posts, 221 pageviews

Still working off the "if you build it, they will come" premise that if I create a resource that people think is worthwhile and important, it will gather steam of its own accord and slowly gather an audience and referrals with minimal intervention.

The next thing I am working on to complement the blog is an audio digest podcast for each month.  I'm about halfway through April and it's fun, but a little time consuming.

Update: I finished the April Podcast - and it's really not very good.  It's going to stay on the cutting room floor.  I'm going to rethink the format and content before recording another month.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

72-Hour Returns - Fun, But Not Useful

Our EMR lets us generate reports of our 72-hour returns - and it's a fun toy, but, reading through it is rarely illuminating.  On a rare occasion you see a "true miss", where one of your colleagues finds something through another line of thinking.  But, mostly, it's wound checks, admissions for failed outpatient antibiotic therapy for cellulitis, or the town drunk coming back in again.  It is a valuable tool, at least, in the sense that our ED is the only one for 40 miles and is the only tertiary center for 90 miles, so we should get most of our own bouncebacks.

And, this study essentially confirms my anecdotal observations - most people who come back return for non-emergent conditions, do not require significant additional testing, and are no more likely to be admitted.  Their conclusion, then, is that 72-hour returns are of limited utility as a quality measure - something of which I tend to agree...although, if it were, the unintended consequence of discouraging that 2-day wound check/abscess repacking might finally put abscess packing to rest....

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21496142

Monday, May 30, 2011

Bypassing The ER With STEMI

This is a paper cited in the most recent ACEP Weekend review that tries to draw more profound conclusions than it probably should.

It's another piece of the growing body of literature that says "Hurry!  Prehospital activation is all we need in STEMI!"  From Israel, it's a retrospective review of performance variables and patient outcomes between a cohort that was assessed in the ER and a cohort that went straight to the lab.  They draw a few conclusions, some of which are valid.

First, time.  One of the two "primary" outcome variables is door-to-balloon time.  No argument that skipping steps along the way will save you time.  No study is needed to prove that.

The second "primary" outcome variable is MACE within 30 days - another combined endpoint kludge of death, CHF, reinfarction, CVA, TIA, and urgent revascularization.  This one favored the direct-to-ICCU group, 22% to 30%.  How is 30-day CVA/TIA directly related to the effectiveness of PCI?  Looking at their secondary outcomes - death was not significantly different - but CHF was 8% different, which therefore accounts for essentially the entire difference between groups in this primary outcome.

And the problem?  Well, they also show in a secondary outcome that LVEF >30% was 7% greater in the direct-to-ICCU group...from which it follows there would obviously be less heart failure in that group.  But, in their demographic information, they don't know the pre-intervention LVEF for their patients - only the Killip class on presentation, which is a measure of the heart failure associated with the acute cardiac event, not their pre-existing LVEF.

So, the only thing they've effectively proven in this study is that skipping steps saves time.  And, they don't comment on the number of false positives in each group, either.

http://www.ima.org.il/imaj/ar11apr-07.pdf

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Fluid Boluses Increase Mortality In Children

...or, at least, that's the gist of the New England Journal Article making rounds in the news.

And, while a close reading of the article doesn't offer great support for harm, it certainly supports saying that albumin, saline, or nothing were equivalent.

The absolute difference in survival was 3% - and, looking at the demographic breakdown, there were 2-3% differences or trends in favor of the control group regarding dehydration, acidemia, base-deficit, and bacteremia.  Enough that it lets me cling in denial to standard practice and teaching here in the U.S., in addition to whatever you want to say about external validity of a study in resource-poor settings in Africa.

It is an odd and unexpected finding, so say the least.  The authors attribute at least part of the unusual discovery to the high percentage of malaria cases they treated, and that fluid resuscitation in malaria is controversial - but regardless, this is going to be a frequently discussed study on the Pediatric Critical Care side of things for some time.  I also expect follow-up confirmatory studies to be a tough sell to U.S. IRBs.

http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1101549