Canadian Paramedics Killed As Ambulance Plunges Over Embankment

From JEMS:

An ambulance making an early-morning trip down a twisting, steep highway winding around a mountain lake skidded off the road and plunged into the water, killing the two attendants on board Tuesday.

B.J. Chute, spokesman for the province’s paramedics union, confirmed the two members – one male and one female – were killed after their vehicle crashed into Kennedy Lake in the early morning.

The relative efficacy of adenosine versus verapamil for the treatment of stable PSVT

From theĀ European Journal of Emergency Medicine:

Objective: Verapamil and adenosine are the most common agents used to treat paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia (PSVT). We performed a systematic review and meta-analysis to determine the relative effectiveness of these drugs and to examine their respective adverse effect profiles.

Methods: We searched MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, the Cochrane database, and international clinical trial registers for randomized controlled trials comparing adenosine (or adenosine compounds) with verapamil for the treatment of PSVT in stable adult patients. The primary outcome was rate of reversion to sinus rhythm. Secondary outcome was occurrence of pooled adverse events. Odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were calculated using a random effects model (RevMan v5).

Results: Eight trials were appropriate and had the available data. The reversion rate for adenosine was 90.8% (95% CI: 87.3-93.4%) compared with 89.9% for verapamil (95% CI: 86.0-92.9%). The pooled odds ratio for successful reversion was 1.27 (95% CI: 0.63-2.57) favouring adenosine. This was not statistically significant. There was a higher rate of minor adverse effects described with adenosine (16.7-76%) compared with verapamil (0-9.9%). The rate of hypotension was lower with adenosine [0.6% (95% CI: 0.1-2.4%)] compared with verapamil [3.7% (95% CI: 1.9-6.9%)].

Conclusion: Adenosine and verapamil have similar efficacy in treating PSVT. Adenosine has a higher rate of minor adverse effects, and of overall adverse effects, whereas verapamil has a higher rate of causing hypotension. A decision between the two agents should be made on a case-by-case basis and ideally involve informed discussion with the patient where appropriate.

A Rapid Medical Screening Process Improves Emergency Department Patient Flow During Surge Associated With Novel H1N1 Influenza Virus

From the Annals of Emergency Medicine:

Study objective: We compare emergency department (ED) patient flow during the fall 2009 novel H1N1-associated surge in patient volumes at an urban, tertiary care, pediatric medical center to that in the previous winter virus season.

Methods: A rapid medical screening process was instituted to manage the surge in patient census. The process included the use of a new, separate clinical area converted from office space adjacent to the ED, the introduction of a new preprinted checklist for rapid documentation of medical history and physical examination of patients with influenza-like illness, the use of classroom-style parent discharge education, and the use of preprinted discharge prescription and instructions. We compared patient flow parameters, including waiting time, length of stay, and elopement rates, and returns within 48 hours and 7 days for a comparable period in winter 2008 to 2009.

Results: During the first 30 days of the novel H1N1-associated surge in patient volumes (October 12 to November 10, 2009), overall ED daily volumes increased by a mean of 113 (51.8%) compared with baseline (daily increase range 49 to 118 patients). Of the 10,013 patients treated during this period, 4,287 (42.8%) had complaints consistent with influenza-like illness and 1,767 (17.6%) were treated with the rapid screening process. The mean wait time decreased from 92.9 to 81.2 minutes (difference 11.7 minutes; 95% confidence interval [CI] 10.2 to 13.2 minutes). Overall mean ED length of stay decreased from 241 to 212.3 minutes (difference 28.7 minutes; 95% CI 25.8 to 31.6 minutes). Rates of elopement were unchanged, and elopement rates as a function of daily patient volumes showed improved responsiveness to high volumes. Rates of return were unchanged within 48 hours (3.0% in 2009 versus 2.9% in 2008; odds ratio 1.03 [0.91 to 1.18]) and within 7 days (6.2% in 2009 versus 5.7% in 2008; odds ratio 1.09 [0.99 to 1.20]). The use of the rapid screening process required a mean of 23.5 (95% CI 16.4 to 30.6) additional hours per day of physician staffing and a mean of 26.3 (95% CI 18.5 to 34.1) additional hours of nursing staffing.

Conclusion: The implementation of a rapid screening process during the fall 2009 H1N1-associated surge in patient volumes was associated with improved patient flow without affecting rates of return to the ED within 48 hours or 7 days. This was accomplished with only a modest increase in staffing.

Therapeutic hypothermia following out-of-hospital cardiac arrest; does it start in the emergency department?

From the Emergency Medicine Journal:

Background: The use of therapeutic hypothermia after cardiac arrest is a well-practised treatment modality in the intensive care unit (ICU). However, recent evidence points to advantages in starting the cooling process as soon as possible after the return of spontaneous circulation (ROSC). There are no data on implementation of this treatment in the emergency department.

Methods: A telephone survey was conducted of the 233 emergency departments in the UK. The most senior available clinician was asked if, in cases where they have a patient with a ROSC after an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest, would therapeutic hypothermia be started in the emergency department.

Results: Of the 233 hospitals called, 230 responded, of which 35% would start cooling in the emergency department. Of this 35%, over half (56%) said the decision to start cooling was made by the emergency physician before consultation with the ICU. Also, of the 35% who would begin cooling in the emergency department, 55% would cool only for ventricular fibrillation/ventricular tachycardia, 66% would monitor temperature centrally, and 14% would use specialised cooling equipment.

Conclusions: There is often a delay in getting patients to ICU from the emergency department, and thus the decision not to start cooling in the emergency department may impact significantly on patient outcome. The dissemination of these data may persuade emergency physicians that starting treatment in the emergency department is an appropriate and justifiable decision that is becoming a more accepted practice throughout the UK.

Maryland Woman Falsely Declared Dead

From JEMS:

Maryland woman police reported dead after finding her blue and not breathing in her home was actually alive.

Police were called to check on 89-year-old Ruth Shillinglaw Johnson on Oct. 1. According to a report, officers found her motionless on her bathroom floor, and one officer noted an odor “similar to a decomposition smell.”

But officers did not check for a pulse. Instead, they called Johnson’s adult son and told him his mother was dead. The man said Johnson planned to donate her body to science. A State Anatomy Board employee arriving to take the body three hours later heard Johnson take a deep breath and saw her move her arm.

Firemen Rescue Flushed Kitten

From Neatorama:

Three-year-old Alannah Merleto of Baulkham Hills, New South Wales, Australia flushes a lot of things down the toilet, as some children do, but her two-day-old kitten was the worst thing she could flush.

Strategic Name Development Creates Emerus Emergency Hospital Name

Unfortunate title for a press release