Stop the bleeding!

As emergency physicians, we know how to handle bleeding. But what about when the patient is on anticoagulants? Last week our ED pharmacist, Gary Peksa, PharmD, gave us some advice on how to stop the bleeding in a patient on anticoagulants. Here is a brief overview on what he taught us. Let’s start by discussing all the intricacies of the coagulation cascade and how each of the anticoagulants work:

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Posterior Circulation Ischemic Strokes

Last week we had the opportunity to learn about posterior circulation ischemic strokes from vascular neurologist, Dr. Osteraas.

Diagnosing posterior circulation ischemic strokes can be challenging in the emergency department, largely because posterior circulation ischemic strokes frequently lack “traditional” stroke signs and symptoms and the symptoms that you do see are often non-specific and can be slow onset. Despite this, it is important to do our best to diagnose these as about 20% of ischemic events involve the posterior circulation and posterior circulation ischemic strokes can lead to some of the most devastating neurologic outcomes, including massive cerebellar infarcts with subsequent herniation and locked in syndrome.

PECARN Head CT and Pericarditis vs. STEMI… in a Rush

5-Minute Journal Article (PECARN Head CT Rule)

Dr. Brian Yu did a great 5-minute summary on the PECARN head CT Rule that was published in 2009. It’s an ambitious study that involved 25 emergency departments and included 42,412 patients under the age of 18 years who presented with blunt head trauma. It further risk stratified these patients into 2 major cohorts of <2 years of age and 2-18 years of age. It excluded patients with trivial injury, penetrating trauma, neurologic history, and those with prior imaging. The outcomes this study aimed for were clinically important findings including death, need for neurosurgical intervention, intubation >24 hours, and admission >2 nights. 

Bioterrorism… in a Rush

Dr. Somy Thottathil did an awesome lecture on bioterrorism this past week. And although it is hopefully something we never have to see, as one of the major hospitals designated as a bioterrorism site in Chicago, it is something that we should be prepared to recognize and treat. It’s also good review for all the med school knowledge we haven’t needed (thankfully) for some time now. The main topics we’ll focus on are the Category A agents:  Botulism, Plague, Anthrax, Smallpox, and Viral Hemorrhagic Fevers (which includes Ebola, Marburg, Lassa Fever, and Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic Fever). We are only going to discuss Ebola as current outbreaks are still occurring.

Preeclampsia… In a Rush

You stroll into work, coffee in hand, and you’re feeling great today. Your first patient is being escorted to her room. She’s young, maybe in her early 30s, walking without difficulty, chatting with the person showing her the room. You think to yourself, why is she here? You sign into the computer and you see the chief complaint: elevated blood pressure. But she’s so young you say to yourself. You wait for the nurse to load the blood pressure in the computer and take a sip of your coffee. It loads: 162/98.  You ask if the patient has any other symptoms. The nurse says no and lets you know that the patient has no past medical history. You smile to yourself thinking easy discharge! You take another sip of coffee (well deserved).