Monday, November 7, 2011

Resident Productivity Does Not Predict ABEM Scores

Simple, single-institution study of 11 years of resident in-service scores, patients-per-hour, and ABEM qualifying examination scores - and, as previously shown, only PGY-3 in-service examination scores predicted ABEM oral and written examination scores.

Simulated oral board examination scores did not correlate with ABEM oral examination scores, and the relative number of patients-per-hour had no significant correlations between any testing.

I would say that bears out my observational experience - doing more has no bearing on whether you might be doing more incorrectly.

"Outcome Measures for Emergency Medicine Residency Graduates: Do Measures of Academic and Clinical Performance During Residency Training Correlate With American Board of Emergency Medicine Test Performance?"

Good luck to everyone taking their ABEM exam today!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

CTA Contrast Probably Increases ICH With TPA

...although the authors of this study draw the opposite conclusion.

In an effort to decrease the administration of TPA to stroke mimics and TIAs, some institutions are moving to the use of CT angiographic and perfusion studies after the initial non-contrast scan.  Previous studies have suggested an association between iodinated contrast administration and ICH after TPA.

These authors beg to differ.  In their study cohort, they retrospectively evaluate 319 patients receiving TPA for acute stroke, 69 of whom receive contrast and 243 who do not.  Depending on whether the ECASS or SITS-MOST definition of symptomatic ICH is used:
 ECASS - 4 of 69 (5.8%) with contrast, 12 of 243 (4.9%) without contrast
 SITS-MOST: 3 of 69 (4.4%) with contrast, 9 of 243 (3.7%) without contrast

...and that small absolute difference does not reach statistical significance because their numbers are so small.  This does not prevent the authors from stating "we found no association of either IV contrast administration or contrast dose with SICH in our series of patients treated with IV rtPA."  They're not wrong - but they barely address how underpowered their study is, or how every baseline characteristic (age, stroke severity, comorbid conditions) favored their contrast group, yet they still trended towards increased ICH.

Does the author of every TPA article live in a distortion field that blinds them to reasonable consideration of safety issues and study limitations?

"Iodinated Contrast Media and Cerebral Hemorrhage After Intravenous Thrombolysis"

Friday, November 4, 2011

Predicting Deterioration After Admission

This is a decidedly unsexy topic that I guarantee your Medical Director or QI committee cares about a lot.  Particularly where I work, we occasionally have a prolonged boarding event, the patient isn't reassessed in a certain time frame, the patient is transported out of the ED - and they arrive on the floor or step-down and Rapid Response is called for an unanticipated escalation in care.

This is apparently a bigger deal in the United Kingdom, because it is recommended by their government hospital body to employ a risk-stratification system to predict patient deterioration.  These two articles discuss the derivation in the UK and the validation in Canada of the "ViEWS" score, which is named in part by from their electronic health record that stores their physiologic data.  The general gist of the system is that the authors of the first article derived a score incorporating pulse, respiratory rate, temperature, systolic BP, O2 saturation, whether patient was on oxygen, and a measure of CNS alertness.  They then compare it do several other scoring systems and amazingly enough, the scoring system they derive - using the system from the company the authors' wives work for and in which they own shares of stock - works better than the other systems.

An abbreviated version of this is put into validation at a Canadian hospital that does not use any of the equipment, or have any financial conflict of interests.  They found equally good results - which, in summation they give as four risk-stratification groups:
 - < 3 points: 65% of all patients, only 0.02% died within 48 hrs.
 - 3-6 points: 28% of all patients, 0.41% died within 48 hrs.
 - 7-10 points: 6% of all patients, 3% died within 48 hrs.
 - >11 points: 0.7% of all patients, 13.8% died within 48 hrs.

So, yes, we all can probably look at the patients scoring >11 and know they're sick without a scoring system.  However, this might be a model to look at with nursing staff to help change the parameters for floor beds or to reassess which patients can be downgraded in order to free up more intensive resources upstairs.  Just don't necessarily buy the product being hawked by the original authors.

"ViEWS—Towards a national early warning score for detecting adult inpatient deterioration."

"Validation of an abbreviated VitalpacTM Early Warning Score (ViEWS) in 75,419 consecutive admissions to a Canadian Regional Hospital"

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Medication Errors During Resuscitation

According to previous literature from 2002, up to 19% of medication doses are administered in error to hospitalized patients.  Presumably, we've improved.

Apparently, we haven't.  This is a prospective observational study by pharmacists in Pittsburgh who observed the inpatient Medical Emergency Team in operation - which in this instance, was a physician-led team with "full" critical care capabilities, as opposed to their non-physician Rapid Response Team.  They observed medication administration during 50 of these calls and found that there were 1.6 errors per medication administration.  Yes, they really observed more than one error per dose - but 66% of those issues involved aseptic technique.  Subtracting those, they observed an error merely every other dose.  46% were prescribing errors, 28% administration technique, 14% mislabeling, 10% preparation, and 2% improper doses.  The authors eventually conclude that 14% of the total non-aseptic errors were truly harmful, not just "errors".

Despite the small sample size, I think it's a fair assessment that "medical emergency" situations can be chaotic and error-prone - and we still have a ways to go to implement systemic changes to prevent errors.

In the end, the pharmacists' solution is - more pharmacists.  Hmmm....

"Medication Errors During Medical Emergencies in a Large, Tertiary Care, Academic Medical Center"

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Dabigatran Worsens/Does Not Worsen Bleeding

Stroke and Circulation are both Journals under the umbrella of the American Heart Association.  So, when they publish articles that come to contrasting conclusions, I find that entertaining.

Both of these articles are mouse models of bleeding on dagibatran, C57BL/6 or CD-1 mice.  Sadly, they are frighteningly complex in their adjustments and statistical analyses - which means it defeats my ability to concisely summarize the findings and methods.

In short, one of these articles looks at intracranial hemorrhage after collagenase injection for mice receiving several different doses of oral dabigatran, and compare it to controls, warfarin, lepirudin, fondaparinux, and heparin.  It appears, and the author's final conclusion is, that dabigatran is the least harmful of all anticoagulants - about halfway between controls and the other anticoagulants.  They also shoot the mice with lasers in another portion of the study, and dabigatran "wins" that as well.

The other article looks at trying to reverse dabigatran - which, if you recall the human study I posted a few weeks back, was not successful in humans.  However, human trials were all surrogate markers of bleeding as measured by laboratory measurements of clotting.  What entertains me is, in contrast to the other study, these authors have no trouble inducing bleeding and significant ICH formation with dabigatran.  In any event, once the mice were adequately bleeding, the authors compared prothrombin concentrate complexes (specifically, Beriplex), FFP, and FVIIa for treatment of ICH 30 minutes after induced injury with collagenase.  Happily, PCCs, in a dose-dependent manner, attenuated the induced ICH, while the others failed.

So, perhaps this "novel, reversible" anticoagulant has a treatment option for life-threatening bleeding.  Human confirmation, at least case reports, needed.

"Anticoagulation With the Oral Direct Thrombin Inhibitor Dabigatran Does Not Enlarge Hematoma Volume in Experimental Intracerebral Hemorrhage"

"Hemostatic Therapy in Experimental Intracerebral Hemorrhage Associated With the Direct Thrombin Inhibitor Dabigatran"