Most medical practices are not parachutes

I was invited on EMCrit to discuss my position on idarucizumab and I fear I didn’t do a great job explaining myself. I don’t want to spend more time discussing the specifics of idarucizumab, but I think the larger problem of declaring that a therapy works without study, or declaring that it would be unethical to study a therapy because we “know it works” despite a lack of randomized control trials, is worth pursuing. Continue reading “Most medical practices are not parachutes”

Magical thinking in modern medicine: IV antibiotics for cellulitis

A summary of the evidence comparing IV to oral antibiotics for cellulitis

“I’ve been on these oral antibiotics for 36 hours and my cellulitis isn’t improving. My doctor sent me in because I NEED IV antibiotics.”

“This patient has pretty mild cellulitis, but he does have a fever, so I think we should go with IV antibiotics.”

“That is a pretty big cellulitis. There is no way it is going to improve with just oral antibiotics.”

Among physicians and patients alike, it is generally accepted that IV antibiotics are better than oral. They are stronger. They will work faster. They will save the day when oral antibiotics have failed. But do the bacteria floating around in the soft tissues of your leg really care (or even know) whether the antibiotics entered your system through a vein or via the stomach?

Continue reading “Magical thinking in modern medicine: IV antibiotics for cellulitis”

BNP in the emergency department: The evidence

A review of the BNP literature

In the most recent episode of Emergency Medicine Cases Journal Jam, Rory, Anton, and I cover the evidence for (for against) using BNP in the emergency department. These are my notes.  Continue reading “BNP in the emergency department: The evidence”

Idarucizumab: Plenty of optimism, not enough science

A critique of the current science supporting idarucizumab

Optimism is essential. Few things are as powerful as hope for the future. When facing an onslaught of critically ill patients, optimism allows emergency physicians to persist. Optimism, however, can cloud also cloud our judgement; allow us to focus only on the good, not the bad. As physicians, we cannot afford optimism blindness. We need to be objective. We need to be scientists.

This month I was distressed to hear overly-optimistic, unscientific statements about idarucizumab on two of my favourite emergency medicine education programs: EM:RAP and EM Cases. I have incredible respect for these sources. EM:RAP has been irreplaceable in my emergency medicine education. On EM Cases, the statements were made by Dr. Walter Himmel, who is one of the smartest individuals I have ever had the opportunity to meet. But in this instance, I think that they were both wrong.

Continue reading “Idarucizumab: Plenty of optimism, not enough science”

Does contrast cause kidney injury? The evidence

A look at the evidence around post contrast acute kidney injury (or “contrast induced nephropathy”)

It’s time for another Emergency Medicine Cases Journal Jam, and we chose to tackle the concept of “contrast induced nephropathy” this time around. For this review, we focused on the risk of acute kidney injury following intravenous contrast for CT scans, because that is what we are really concerned about in the emergency department. For a variety of reasons, including higher contrast loads, higher risk patients, and procedure induced micro-emboli, the risk of kidney injury is significantly higher when using intra-arterial contrast for procedures such as cardiac catheterization. What follows are the notes I made in preparation for the podcast.

Continue reading “Does contrast cause kidney injury? The evidence”

Would you choose adenosine?

Comparing adenosine to calcium channel blockers in the management of SVT

Hi sir. My name is Dr. Morgenstern. That racing feeling in your chest… it’s something we call SVT. That just means that you heart is going too fast. I’m going to get it slowed down for you. All that silly stuff we just did – getting you to blow in a syringe and raising your legs above your head – that sometimes works, but honestly, I have never seen it work myself. It’s time to stop asking you to “bear down” and move on to using medications to slow your heart down. Right now, your blood pressure is fine and you have no other problems, so we have a few options.

Option number one is a medication that works about 90% of the time, but it causes a horrible feeling when it is given. Some people describe it as chest pain. Others say is feels like they are going to die. Most people tell me it is the worst thing they have ever experienced.

Option number two is a medication that works closer to 100% of the time and doesn’t cause any pain at all.

Which would you prefer?

Continue reading “Would you choose adenosine?”

Embedding decision tools into the electronic record

Last week I picked up a chart at work. It was a 25 year old woman who had sneezed very hard and developed some right sided rib pain. She had waited about 2 hours to see me after being sent in from a walk in clinic with a note asking me to “rule out PE” because the pain was, unsurprisingly, pleuritic. She had normal vital signs. She had an x ray done at the walk in clinic that ruled out pneumothorax. She had no history of or risk factors for VTE. She had a Well’s score of 0. She was PERC negative. Continue reading “Embedding decision tools into the electronic record”