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Right for Halloween: Clinical Algorithm for Pediatric Patients with Multiple Injuries October 10, 2019

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When children with multiple serious injuries present to the ED, how do you ensure that you identify and address all of their injuries?

Management of the child with multiple traumatic injuries can be challenging, and important injuries may not be readily recognized. Early recognition of serious injuries, initiation of appropriate diagnostic studies, and rapid stabilization of injuries are key to decreasing morbidity and mortality in the multiply injured pediatric trauma patient. The differential diagnosis for these patients is wide, and treatment is targeted to the specific injuries.

This clinical flowchart provides a systematic approach to the management of pediatric patients with multiple traumatic injuries. Download now.

Clinical Pathway for the Management of a Pediatric Patient With Multiple Traumatic Injuries

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Concussion Aftercare Guidelines for the ED October 10, 2019

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One important aspect of concussion management for the emergency clinician is the provision of adequate aftercare instructions at the time of discharge from the ED. This requires a paradigm shift for the emergency clinician, as discharging a head-injured patient was primarily focused on providing precautions for potential deterioration.

Patients with severe symptoms may be concerned about their ability to recover and the long-term implications, due to heightened media attention on concussion. An understanding of the expected course of recovery can be very helpful to the patient and family, providing reassurance that the majority of patients with concussion will recover fully.

Instructions for aftercare may include a period of rest, but should allow for limited, progressive cognitive and physical activity as tolerated by the patient and as symptoms improve. Emergency clinicians should not create disability by recommending strict rest. Several studies have found no benefit in the prescription of strict rest when compared to the resumption of moderate cognitive or physical activity. Brown et al demonstrated improved recovery in children who were provided with moderate cognitive rest compared to no cognitive rest, but there was no additional benefit with extremes of cognitive rest. It has also been shown that patients who resumed moderate levels of cognitive or physical activity recovered better than those with strict rest or resumption of high levels of activity.

While strict rest may inhibit recovery, the discussion with the patient must be balanced by maintaining a healthy respect for the vulnerability of the concussed brain. Rodent studies have clearly demonstrated that there is a window of vulnerability after a concussion, during which even a mild repeat injury significantly increases the risk of a complicated recovery. MRI spectroscopy studies in humans have demonstrated neurometabolic changes that persist beyond apparent clinical resolution of the concussion, but the clinical implications of these findings are not yet clear. Patients should be counseled on the risks of re-injury and should not return to sport or high-risk physical activities, such as bike riding, until cleared from the concussion during a follow-up medical visit.

When providing aftercare instructions, the emergency clinician should advise patients and caregivers that return to school is appropriate once severe symptoms have improved. Return to school typically can take place within 48 to 72 hours after the injury. Academic adjustments may be needed to support recovery in the school environment. The primary care clinician or concussion specialist is more suited than the emergency clinician to work with the patient’s school on specific plans for return to school. It is not necessary to keep students out of school until they are symptom free, as doing so increases the risk for development of social isolation, stress from missed school work, and/or school avoidance behaviors.

Sleep disturbance is almost universal in concussion and can be a significant source of disability and delayed recovery. The emergency clinician should counsel patients on sleep hygiene to help prevent a disturbed sleep cycle, as patients may spend more time than normal sleeping during the early course of recovery. Approximately 1 to 2 weeks after the injury, increased sleep often gives way to day-night reversal, difficulty falling asleep, and difficulty staying asleep.

Patients should be advised to eliminate napping within a few days after the injury and should be counseled that proper sleep hygiene techniques should be implemented within a week of the injury. The burden of electronic device use by patients should not be underestimated, as this can contribute to sleep disturbance even without concussion. Constant audible alerts and emission of blue light from electronic devices can contribute to sleep disturbance. Proper sleep hygiene techniques are outlined in Table 7.

Table 7. Proper Sleep Hygiene Techniques

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Clinical Pathway for Management of Hemorrhage in Patients Taking Direct Oral Anticoagulant Agents September 10, 2019

Posted by Andy Jagoda, MD in : Feature Update , 1 comment so far

Direct oral anticoagulant (DOAC) agents have become commonly used over the last 9 years for treatment and prophylaxis for thromboembolic conditions, following approvals by the United States Food and Drug Administration.

These anticoagulant agents, which include a direct thrombin inhibitor and factor Xa inhibitors, offer potential advantages for patients over warfarin; however, bleeding emergencies with DOACs can present diagnostic and therapeutic challenges because, unlike traditional anticoagulants, their therapeutic effect cannot be easily monitored directly with common clotting assays.

This clinical pathway will help you improve care in the management of hemorrhage in patients taking direct oral anticoagulant agents. Download now.

Clinical Pathway for Management of Hemorrhage in Patients Taking Direct Oral Anticoagulant Agents

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Clinical Flowchart for the Diagnosis of Appendicitis in Pediatric Patients September 10, 2019

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Appendicitis is the most common condition in children requiring emergency abdominal surgery. Delayed or missed diagnosis in young children is common and is associated with increased rates of perforation. Although several scoring systems have been developed, there is still no consensus on clinical, laboratory, and imaging criteria for diagnosing appendicitis.

The dangers associated with misdiagnosis, delay, and perforation make quick and accurate diagnosis of appendicitis essential. This flowchart provides guidance for the management of children with appendicitis

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Clinical Pathway for the Diagnosis of Appendicitis in Pediatric Patients

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Ultrasound Assessment for Skull Fractures August 15, 2019

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The use of ultrasound at the point of care by emergency clinicians, as well as by other specialists, has become increasingly common over the last 25 years. Emergency POCUS can be used as a diagnostic test and also to visualize anatomy for procedural guidance. It allows the emergency clinician to rapidly rule in or rule out disease processes and guide ongoing investigation and management of patients in the ED.

Pediatric emergency ultrasound has been slower to progress than adult emergency ultrasound. However, the use of emergency ultrasound for pediatric patients has recently begun to formalize.

The pediatric patient is arguably more suited for emergency ultrasound than the adult patient. Children generally have a smaller body habitus than adults and, therefore, less tissue for the ultrasound beams to penetrate. This often leads to clearer images of the different organ systems, which should yield better diagnostic accuracy.

Ultrasound can be used in the evaluation of children with blunt head trauma to assess for skull fractures. (See Figure Below) The presence of a skull fracture increases the risk of traumatic intracranial hemorrhage 4- to 6-fold.

While the absence of a skull fracture does not rule out the presence of intracranial injury, assessment for skull fracture has been used to risk stratify.

Skull Fracture on Ultrasound

Patients with blunt head trauma. In a meta-analysis published in 2000, skull x-rays had a sensitivity of 38% and a specificity of 95% when interpreted by radiologists. Given this poor sensitivity, skull x-rays have been falling out of favor for assessment of skull fracture. However, there has been a renewed interest in skull ultrasound as perhaps a better tool to assess for skull fracture and to risk stratify patients with blunt head trauma.

Technique
Skull ultrasound is performed with a high-frequency linear array probe. The probe should be placed on the area of the skull with maximal tenderness, hematoma, or other sign of possible fracture. It should be scanned in 2 planes, looking for disruptions in the cortex. Sutures can be differentiated from fractures by following the cortical break to a fontanelle and by scanning the contralateral side for comparison. Additionally, the cortical break in a fracture will appear ragged, with sharp margins, while a suture will have a smooth appearance.

Several prospective studies have evaluated bedside ultrasound for skull fractures in children. Rabiner et al pooled data from previous trials along with their own data. They reported a sensitivity of 94% and specificity of 96% for ultrasound detection of skull fractures. Parri et al performed another study not captured in the Rabiner et al study, and showed a sensitivity of 100% and a specificity of 95%, with 1 false-positive result. A limitation of these studies was that the ultrasounds were performed on patients for whom a CT scan was planned. Therefore, the study population was already determined to be at higher risk for injury as compared to the entire spectrum of head trauma patients presenting to the ED. Nonetheless, it can be concluded that the diagnostic accuracy of skull ultrasound is superior to that of skull x-ray.

Future Applications
The current trend in the evaluation and risk stratification of pediatric head trauma is the incorporation of clinical decision rules, with the PECARN pediatric head injury prediction rule being the most sensitive and most commonly used in the United States.56 An area of future research is the incorporation of skull ultrasound in conjunction with a clinical decision rule to better risk stratify patients and possibly further decrease the number of CT scans being performed.

To read more about the PECARN Pediatric Head Injury Prediction Rule, go to: www.ebmedicine.net/PECARN-head-rule

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Clinical Pathway for Emergency Department Management of Patients With Bariatric Surgery Complications August 14, 2019

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As bariatric procedures have become more common, more of these patients present to the emergency department postoperatively.

The most common complaints in these patients are abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting, though each of the surgical procedures will present with specific complications, and management will vary according to the surgical procedure performed. Computed tomography is often the primary imaging modality, though it has it limits, and plain film imaging is appropriate in some cases.

This clinical pathway will help you improve care in the management of patients with bariatric surgery complications. Download now.

Clinical Pathway for Emergency Department Management of Patients With Bariatric Surgery Complications

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Most Common Risk Stratification Criteria for Management of Febrile Young Infants July 18, 2019

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Due to an immature immune system and pathogens often specific to the age group, the young infant (generally aged < 60-90 days, depending on the specific study or review) is at high risk for serious bacterial infections (SBIs); in particular, urinary tract infection (UTI), bacteremia, and bacterial meningitis. Consequently, the febrile young infant with a rectal temperature ≥ 38°C (100.4°F) is commonly encountered in the emergency department (ED). The incidence of SBI in febrile infants aged < 90 days is 8% to 12.5%, and it is nearly 20% in neonates (aged ≤ 28 days). The incidence of potentially life-threatening bacteremia and/or bacterial meningitis (ie, invasive bacterial infection [IBI]) is approximately 2%.

Due to their lack of social responsiveness (eg, social smile) and verbal cues, even well-appearing febrile young infants may harbor an SBI, in contrast to well-appearing febrile older infants and children who are at lower risk for IBI. Multiple studies have demonstrated that both observation scales and clinician suspicion for SBI are poorly predictive of bacterial infection in febrile infants. Additionally, bacterial meningitis is the most common diagnosis involved in pediatric medical malpractice claims in the emergency department (ED).

Over 2 decades ago, several risk stratification criteria were created to identify febrile young infants at low risk for SBI, and the criteria have been utilized to potentially avoid hospitalization of certain low-risk patients. More recently, newer risk stratification algorithms that incorporate biomarkers such as procalcitonin (PCT) and C-reactive protein (CRP) have been developed and validated in febrile infants.

Among well-appearing febrile infants, neonates have the highest prevalence of SBI and IBI and the least reliable clinical examination. These infants should undergo a full sepsis evaluation, including CSF testing. While the Rochester criteria and the recently published PECARN prediction rule do not include routine CSF testing in this age group (see table below), infants classified as low-risk by any criteria may still have bacterial meningitis, so CSF testing is generally recommended for all infants aged ≤ 28 days. Consideration should be given to testing for HSV in the neonate aged ≤ 21 days, even in the absence of vesicles or maternal history of HSV infection.

This table will help you predict the risk stratification criteria for management of febrile young infants. Download now.

Table 4. Most Common Risk Stratification Criteria for Management of Febrile Young Infants

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Intravenous Thrombolysis in Acute Ischemic Stroke July 17, 2019

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Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the United States and an important cause of long-term disability. Approximately 795,000 people suffer from stroke each year (610,000 primary strokes and 185,000 recurrent strokes),1 with ischemic stroke representing the vast majority of all stroke types (87%).

The cornerstone of acute ischemic stroke treatment relies on rapid clearance of an offending thrombus in the cerebrovascular system. Advanced neuroimaging and clinical trials, together with continuous adjustments of inclusion/exclusion criteria, have helped emergency clinicians to rapidly and more accurately identify the patients who will benefit from acute stroke treatment.

Inclusion and Exclusion of Intravenous Thrombolysis: A Changing Landscape

The American Heart Association (AHA) recently published updated guidelines for stroke management. Table 1, summarizes the updated 2018 AHA indications and contraindications for treatment with IVT. Every patient presenting with symptoms of acute stroke within 4.5 hours of last known well or usual state should be triaged for potential IVT. Patients should be evaluated with computed tomography (CT) scan of the brain and systolic blood pressure (SBP) should be maintained at < 185 mm Hg and diastolic blood pressure (DBP) at < 110 mm Hg. Every eligible patient should receive IVT without delay. Changes and adjustments of inclusion/exclusion criteria (in order to minimize the risk of any complication) have been made and are discussed in following sections.

Table 1. Eligibility Criteria and Exclusion Criteria for Intravenous Thrombolysis
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From the author of the very first issue of Emergency Medicine Practice June 24, 2019

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Stephen Colucciello, MD, FACEP
Professor of Emergency Medicine, University of North Carolina School of Medicine-Charlotte Campus,
Charlotte, NC

When we first published Emergency Medicine Practice 20 years ago, emergency clinicians were becoming skeptical of established dogma, which was often based on an “expert” who defined best practices; otherwise known as “eminence-based” medicine. For example, abdominal pain patients were never to get opioids, oral contrast should always be used for abdominal CT scans and the rectal exam was essential in the abdominal pain workup.

Instead of blindly accepting such “textbook facts”, we created Emergency Medicine Practice to advance an evidence-based approach. Evidence-based medicine depends upon the best available evidence, while incorporating personal experience and individual patient values. The size and quality of the study, the research methodology, and the reproducibility of results matters in assessing practice validity.

For Emergency Medicine Practice’s 20th anniversary, we turn back to our roots and revisit and revive our very first issue on abdominal pain. I understand from EB Medicine that hundreds – if not thousands – of emergency clinicians have said this course has aided them in their training and practice in the 20 years since its publication. The editors tell me it is oft-referenced even to this day.

Abdominal pain is one of the complaints seen most frequently in the ED, and the degree of pathology runs from the mundane to catastrophic. Unfortunately, the severity of illness is easily overlooked, especially in the elderly and immunosuppressed. Identifying the high-risk patient is crucial to avoiding a life-threatening diagnostic mistake.

There are many changes in best practices for assessing patients with abdominal pain compared to 20 years ago. Bedside ultrasound by the emergency provider is certainly revolutionizing ED practice. Radiation-reduction strategies are also becoming more commonplace. MRI is a growing modality, especially in pregnant women with suspected appendicitis. In the past two decades, we have learned that oral contrast provides no additional benefit to IV contrast in abdominal CT scans (with some exceptions). We also have seen a dramatic decrease in abdominal plain films and a corresponding increase in abdominal CT scans, especially in the elderly.

In the end, all the thinking, research, peer reviewing, and thought-provoking discussions that go into each issue of Emergency Medicine Practice are to ensure that every topic makes a difference in your diagnostic or treatment routine. I would be honored if you change your daily practice after reading this new edition of “Assessing Abdominal Pain In Adults.”

Sincerely,
Stephen Colucciello MD

Click here to read the updated version of our inaugural issue prepared specifically for our 20th anniversary this June!

For two decades, we have helped emergency medicine clinicians like you, who are committed to lifelong learning, providing excellent patient care, and saving lives, with the resources and information you need to do the things that you do best. Tap here to take advantage of the 20th anniversary sale!

It’s our way of saying thank you for helping us reach this significant landmark in our company’s history, which is your history, too. Here’s to 20 more!

Managing pediatric patients in the ED June 11, 2019

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During a busy shift in the ED, an adolescent girl is wheeled back from triage. Her right arm is resting on the arm of the wheel chair, and she is holding her head. Her eyes are downcast, and she appears weak. She saw her doctor the day before with complaints of fever, nausea without vomiting, and generalized muscle aches. Her pediatrician diagnosed her with a flu-like illness and recommended plenty of fluids and ibuprofen.

Earlier that morning when her parents went to check on her, she was weak and could barely get out of bed. Her vital signs in the ED are: temperature, 39.4°C: heart rate, 141 beats/min; and blood pressure, 80/30 mm Hg. You begin examining the patient as a nurse inspects her upper extremities for a site to place a peripheral IV line. She has a generalized erythematous non­palpable rash, a slightly red posterior oropharynx, supple neck, clear lung fields, tachycardia with an otherwise normal cardiac examination, lower abdominal tenderness without peritoneal signs, and extremities with 1+ peripheral pulses, 2+ central pulses, and a capillary refill time of 4 to 5 seconds. You ask the respiratory therapist to provide her oxygen by facemask, and now that the nurse has established an IV line, you ask for a rapid bolus of fluid and start to consider antibiotics.

The nurse asks, “What type of fluid and how fast?” You think to yourself, “Which antibiotic should I use, and what will I do if her condition continues to decline?” Then you recall that you didn’t ask when her last menstrual period occurred.

There may be nothing more anxiety-provoking for a clinician than caring for a previously healthy infant or young child who presents in shock. Once a child’s condition has progressed to this point, it can be very difficult to determine the exact cause. Shock is a common pathway for a multitude of life-threatening illnesses and injuries. As the child’s condition worsens, the similarities among the clinical presentations of the divergent causes of shock overwhelm the differences. Fortunately, there are fundamental principles applicable to multiple causes of shock in children.

The first fluid bolus given to the adolescent girl was provided rapidly using a liter of normal saline, a 60-ml syringe, and a 3-way stopcock. You ordered a dose of vancomycin, ceftriaxone, and clindamycin because of your concern for tampon-related toxic-shock syndrome. A brief gynecologic examination revealed a retained tampon, which was removed. A second and third normal saline bolus was given.

You asked the nurse to prepare dopamine to be given peripherally, if the patient continued to demonstrate signs of shock. Her blood pressure improved, but she still had signs of poor peripheral perfusion, such as delayed capillary refill, so you started her on a dopamine infusion. She was then transferred to the PICU for further management.

Catch up on best practices in cases such as this and for treating pediatric rashes, shock, chest pain, and viral challenges at the pediatric sessions in Ponte Vedra, FL, at the 18th Annual Clinical Decision Making in Emergency Medicine conference.

Enjoy the sea breeze and welcoming sun while earning CME in Ponte Vedra, FL – June 26-29, 2019.

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Last Modified: 10-23-2019
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