Serotonin Syndrome

This case is written by Dr. Donika Orlich. She is a PGY5 Emergency Medicine resident at McMaster University who also completed a fellowship in Simulation and Medical Education last year.

Why it Matters

This case is an example of why it is important to keep a broad differential in our patients. It would be easy to assume this patient has sepsis and to form cognitive biases around only this as a possible presentation. Instead, by maintaining a broad differential diagnosis, a relatively rare presentation is recognized. This case highlights the following:

  • The presenting features of serotonin syndrome: agitation, confusion, clonus, and hyperthermia
  • The management priorities in serotonin syndrome include both minimizing patient agitation with benzodiazepines and aggressive cooling
  • The potential for sodium channel blockade (and a resultant wide QRS pattern on ECG) with cocaine use
  • The potential for patients with a prolonged QT interval to develop Torsades de Pointes
  • The need to treat Torsades de Pointes with magnesium sulfate and defibrillation

Case Summary

A 27-year-old female presents hot and altered to the ED with EMS. Likely cause is serotonin syndrome, precipitated by being on citalopram and methadone in the setting of a recent cocaine binge (all increase serotonin levels). She will develop Torsades de Pointes as a complication which must be treated with MgSO4. She will become increasingly agitated and febrile, requiring IV benzodiazepines, active cooling, and consideration of intubation with paralysis to achieve normothermia.

Clinical Vignette

A 27-year-old female was found by her boyfriend this morning seeming confused and warm. He called EMS. She has a history of opioid abuse and is on methadone, but he swears that she has takes this as prescribed and has not done any prescription pain meds lately. They did “party a lot yesterday,” but she was otherwise well, with no complaints of fever before today. With EMS the patient was noted to be diaphoretic, febrile and quite agitated. She has been placed in a resuscitation bay.

Download the case here: Serotonin Syndrome

1st ECG for the case (long QT and wide QRS) found here:

Wide QRS

(ECG source: https://lifeinthefastlane.com/ecg-library/basics/tca-overdose/)

2nd ECG for the case (long QT) found here:

Long QT ECG

(ECG source: https://lifeinthefastlane.com/ecg-library/basics/qt_interval/)

3rd ECG for the case (Torsades de Pointes) found here:

Torsades ECG

(ECG source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Torsades_de_pointes)

Normal CXR found here:

normal female CXR radiopedia

(CXR source: https://radiopaedia.org/cases/normal-chest-radiograph-female-1)

Post-intubation CXR found here:

normal-intubation2

(CXR source: https://emcow.files.wordpress.com/2012/11/normal-intubation2.jpg)

Multi-Trauma: Blunt VSA and Burn

This case is written by Dr. Donika Orlich. She is a PGY5 Emergency Medicine resident at McMaster University who also completed a fellowship in Simulation and Medical Education last year.

Why it Matters

This case is an excellent example of the challenges faced in Emergency Medicine. Not only are learners faced with a worst-case airway scenario, but they must also manage two critically ill patients at once. In particular, it draws attention to the following:

  • The need to plan for and manage resources appropriately when faced with two critically ill patients simultaneously
  • The importance of recognizing and adequately preparing for a difficult airway
  • The acknowledgement of a failed intubation/ventilation scenario requiring expedient placement of a surgical airway

Case Summary

The case will start with an EMS patch indicating that they are 2 minutes out with multi-trauma from a 2 car MVC. Two patients will then arrive within 1 minute of each other. The first will have gone VSA en route from presumed blunt trauma. This patient will not regain a pulse. The second patient will arrive with significant burns from a car fire, and will have GCS of 3 necessitating intubation. All attempts at intubation will be unsuccessful, and a surgical airway must be performed. The team will need to prioritize resources between the two patients and realize that an ED thoracotomy is not reasonable in the first patient.

Clinical Vignette

Before first patient:

You are working in a tertiary care trauma center. EMS patch: We have a 50ish M unbelted driver in a head-on MCV at about 60km/hr. He was ejected from the vehicle and found about 30m from the crash site with a GCS of 3. He has an obvious head injury, torso injury and unstable pelvis, which we’ve bound. Initially had RR 40, O2 85% on NRB, HR 150 and a questionable femoral pulse. Since then, he’s been pulseless. We’ve been en route about 5 minutes and should be there in about 2 min. He’s received 1mg Epi so far with no shocks advised x2. Smells of EtOH, but no other known history. There was one other car involved that caught on fire, so you’ll probably get them, too, if they survive. Please prepare for this patient.

Upon arrival of second patient:

EMS Handover: This 30ish male belted driver was in a head on MVC with both cars going ~60km/hr. His car was on fire when we got there, and he’s got 2nd/3rd degree burns everywhere. We found him outside the car, so he must have self-extricated. His GCS has been 3 the entire time with us. He’s tolerating an oral airway. His last vitals were HR 120, BP 130/80, RR 30, O2 95% NRB

How to Run the Case

At McMaster University, we successfully ran this case with our PGY4 residents. To do so, we had two confederate nurses at the bedside (one nurse per patient). We also had dedicated sim techs running each mannequin. Finally, we had three faculty instructors. One instructor to observe the management of each patient, and one instructor to play the role of the arriving paramedic and to coordinate between the two instructors and sim techs. We are able to run the case with four of our emergency medicine resident learners playing the roles of a trauma team (one team leader, one senior emerg resident, one senior anesthesia resident, and one surgical resident). It went very well and received positive feedback from the learners. Of note, this case is ripe with opportunity for incorporating other learners. In particular, inter-professional education using ED nurses, RT’s, and learners from other services could work as well.

 

Download the case here: Multitrauma Cric and Blunt VSA Case

Cardiac U/S for Patient 1 found here*:

FAST for Patient 1 found here:

RUQ FF

ECG for Patient 2 found here:

sinus-tachycardia

(ECG source: https://lifeinthefastlane.com/ecg-library/sinus-tachycardia/)

Pre-intubation CXR for Patient 2 found here:

Normal CXR Male

(CXR source: https://radiopaedia.org/cases/normal-chest-x-ray)

PXR for Patient 2 found here:

normal-pelvis-male

(PXR source: http://radiopaedia.org/articles/pelvis-1)

Post-intubation CXR for Patient 2 found here:

Normal Post-Intubation CXR

(CXR source: https://emcow.files.wordpress.com/2012/11/normal-intubation2.jpg)

Cardiac U/S for Patient 2 found here*:

FAST for Patient 2 found here*:

no FF

Lung U/S for Patient 2 found here*:

*All U/S images are courtesy of McMaster PoCUS Subspecialty Training Program.

Trauma in a Hemophiliac

This case is written by Dr. Donika Orlich. She is a PGY5 Emergency Medicine resident at McMaster University who also completed a fellowship in Simulation and Medical Education last year.

Why it Matters

While Emergency physicians certainly see their fair share of trauma, managing a patient with hemophilia is quite infrequent. This case highlights some key management points, including:

  • The importance of administering early Factor VIII replacement
  • The need to monitor for delayed intra-cranial hemorrhage
  • The importance of determining capacity when a head-injured patient becomes agitated

Clinical Vignette

You are working in a level three trauma centre and are told that EMS just arrived from an MVC involving a 16-year-old female passenger who has known hemophilia. Vitals are stable. She has a laceration to her arm, and a bruise on her head, but has GCS 15 and only complains of arm pain.

Case Summary

A 16-year-old female presents following an MVC. Past medical history is significant for hemophilia A. She has a laceration on her arm and a bruise on her forehead, but denies HA/N/V. The learner should recognize high potential for bleeding, and implement immediate treatment with rVIII replacement, along with pan-CT imaging. The CT head will show a small ICH. The patient wants to leave AMA following normal CT results, and the learner must preform a capacity assessment and outline a plan of action for the incompetent patient. The patient should be sedated and/or intubated anticipating decline using neuroprotective measures. Consults should be made to the ICU and hematology.

Download the case here: Hemophilia Case

CXR for the case found here:

normal female CXR radiopedia

(CXR source: https://radiopaedia.org/cases/normal-chest-radiograph-female-1)

PXR for the case found here:

normal-pxr

(PXR source: http://radiopaedia.org/articles/pelvis-1)

Forearm x-ray for the case found here:

R forearm cropped

(X-ray source: http://www.auntminnie.com/index.aspx?sec=ser&sub=def&pag=dis&ItemID=56736)

ECG for the case found here:

sinus-tachycardia

(ECG source: https://lifeinthefastlane.com/ecg-library/sinus-tachycardia/)

FAST image for the case found here:

no FF

Cardiac U/S showing no pericardial effusion found here:

(U/S images courtesy of the McMaster PoCUS Subspecialty Training Program)

Anaphylaxis with Angioedema

This case is written by Dr. Ahmed Taher. He is an Emergency Medicine resident at the University of Toronto and a Masters of Public Health Student at Johns Hopkins University. He developed his appreciation and excitement for simulation while previously employed as a Primary Care Paramedic for York Region EMS.

Why it Matters

Anaphylaxis is a fairly common presentation to the ED. However, it is rare to see truly severe anaphylaxis. This case exposes learners to the most feared complication of anaphylaxis – angioedema requiring surgical airway management. In particular, it highlights:

  • The importance of initiating early treatment for anaphylaxis with epinephrine (and removing ongoing allergen exposure, if possible)
  • The need to intubate early in patients with signs of airway compromise not immediately responding to epinephrine
  • The fact that the “decision to cut” is crucial (and arguably the most challenging part of a surgical airway)
  • The steps required for a successful cricothyrotomy

Clinical Vignette

You are working a night shift at your local Emergency Department. You are called STAT to the bedside of a patient in the department who was seen by your colleague earlier and has recently been started on IV ceftriaxone for a pyelonephritis. You recall from handover that this is a 45-year-old previously healthy female patient with a diagnosis of a UTI two weeks ago, who returned after failing treatment and was diagnosed with pyelonephritis today. The nurse tells you she started the IV antibiotics and fluids 20 min ago, and then started to experience respiratory distress and a full body rash.

Case Summary

A 45-year-old patient who has already been seen in the ED begins treatment for pyelonephritis with IV antibiotics. Soon after initiated, she develops stridor and respiratory distress, as part of an anaphylactic reaction. The team is called into the room to assess the patient. After standard anaphylaxis treatment is given, the airway is still of concern. Intubation attempts are not successful and the patient will need a surgical airway.

Download the case here: Anaphylaxis with Angioedema

ECG for the case found here:

sinus-tachycardia

(ECG source: https://lifeinthefastlane.com/ecg-library/sinus-tachycardia/)

CXR for the case found here:

normal female CXR radiopedia

(CXR source: https://radiopaedia.org/cases/normal-chest-radiograph-female)

Breech Delivery + NRP

This case is written by Dr. Donika Orlich. She is a PGY5 Emergency Medicine resident at McMaster University who also completed a fellowship in Simulation and Medical Education last year.

Why it Matters

All deliveries in the Emergency Department are considered high risk. Further, in most departments, both delivery and neonatal resuscitation are rare events. However, Emergency physicians must be prepared to manage all presentations – including breech delivery! This case highlights several important components of managing these rare presentations, including:

  • The need to adequately prepare the room (if time permits)
  • The importance of calling for a second physician to be available to manage the neonate upon delivery
  • How to safely perform a breech delivery
  • The step-wise progression of neonatal resuscitation post-delivery

Clinical Vignette

EMS Patch: “We have a 19 F complaining of severe abdominal pain onset 1 hour ago. She denies being pregnant, but looks almost full term to us. Contractions seem to be about 1 minute apart. Patient’s Vitals as follows: HR 120, BP 140/85, RR 20, O2 100% on RA. ETA 2 minutes.”

Case Summary

A 19-year-old female presents with EMS in active labour. She denies any history of pregnancy and has had no prenatal care. On examination, infant will be in breech position. The learner must deliver the infant from breech presentation. Following this, the neonate will will present lifeless, and require resuscitation.

Download the case here: Breech + NRP

 

Newborn Sepsis with Apneas

This case is written by Dr. Rob Woods. He works in both the adult and pediatric emergency departments in Saskatoon and has been working in New Zealand for the past year. He is the founder and director of the FRCP EM residency program in Saskatchewan.

Why it Matters

This case highlights important manifestations of sepsis in a neonate. In particular, it reinforces that:

  • Apneas, hypoglycemia, and hypothermia are commonly seen as a result of systemic illness in neonates
  • Prolonged or persistent apneas with associated desaturations require management with either high-flow oxygen or intubation
  • Fluid resuscitation and broad-spectrum antibiotics are important early considerations when managing toxic neonates

Clinical Vignette

To be stated by the Paramedic with the Resus Nurse at bedside: “We picked up this term 3-day old male infant at their GPs office. Mom reports poor feeding for the past 12 hours, and two episodes of vomiting. They took him to the GPs office this morning and they found the temperature to be quite low at 33.1°C. They called us concerned about sepsis. We were only 5 minutes away so we have not obtained IV access. We did obtain a glucose level of 2.7. The child is lethargic and has very poor perfusion – peripheral cap refill is 7 seconds. We don’t have a cuff to get an accurate BP but the HR is 190.”

Case Summary

A 3-day-old term male infant is brought to the ED by EMS after being seen at their Family Physician’s office with a low temperature (33.1oC). The child has been feeding poorly for about 12 hours, and has vomited twice. He is lethargic on examination and poorly perfused with intermittent apneas lasting ~ 20 seconds. He requires immediate fluid resuscitation and broad-spectrum antibiotics. His perfusion will improve after IVF boluses, however the apneas will persist and necessitate intubation.

Download the case here: Newborn Sepsis with Apneas

Initial CXR for the case found here:

Normal neonatal CXR

(CXR source: http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/414608-overview)

Post-intubation CXR for the case found here:

Post-intubation CXR neonate

(CXR source: https://radiopaedia.org/articles/neonatal-pneumonia)

Multi-trauma (Kicked off a Horse)

This case is written by Dr. Kyla Caners. She is a staff emergency physician in Hamilton, Ontario and the Simulation Director of McMaster University’s FRCP-EM program. She is also one of the Editors-in-Chief here at EmSimCases.

Why it Matters

Management of trauma patients with multiple intercurrent injuries can be challenging. This case provides an opportunity for junior learners to stretch themselves beyond their comfort zones. In particular, this case highlights the following:

  • The need for a systematic approach to the initial assessment and ongoing re-assessment of any complex trauma patient
  • The importance of prioritizing tasks and adjusting priorities as patient status changes
  • The complexity of managing a hypotensive, head-injured patient

Clinical Vignette

A 32-year-old female presents as a trauma activation with EMS after being bucked off of her horse. Her mom witnessed the episode and called EMS because she seemed groggy. She has had a low BP with EMS on route. Her current BP is 80/40.

Case Summary

A 32-year-old female presents after being bucked off of her horse. She is brought in as a trauma team activation because of a low BP. Her primary survey will reveal a boggy hematoma over her right temporal area as well as an unstable pelvis. Her initial GCS will be 8. The team will proceed through airway management in a hypotensive, head-injured trauma patient while also binding her pelvis. The patient eventually shows signs of brain herniation, which the team will need to manage prior to consultant arrival.

Download the case here: Pelvic Fracture and SDH

ECG for the case found here:

Sinus tachycardia

(ECG source: https://i0.wp.com/lifeinthefastlane.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/sinus-tachycardia.jpg)

Pre-intubation CXR for the case found here:

normal female CXR radiopedia

(CXR source: https://radiopaedia.org/cases/normal-chest-radiograph-female-1)

PXR for the case found here:

Pelvic fracture

(PXR source: https://littlemedic.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/pelvis_0_1.jpg)

Post-intubation CXR for the case found here:

normal-intubation2

(CXR source: https://emcow.files.wordpress.com/2012/11/normal-intubation2.jpg)

Ultrasound showing free fluid in RUQ found here:

RUQ FF

Ultrasound showing normal lung sliding found here:

Ultrasound showing no pericardial effusion found here:

(All U/S images are courtesy of McMaster PoCUS Subspecialty Training Program)

Multi-drug Overdose

This case is written by Dr. Kyla Caners. She is a staff emergency physician in Hamilton, Ontario and the Simulation Director of McMaster University’s FRCP-EM program. She is also one of the Editors-in-Chief here at EmSimCases.

Why it Matters

Calcium channel blocker overdoses are one of the most difficult overdoses for emergency physicians to manage. Even with excellent care, these patients often progress to cardiac arrest or to needing ECMO. This case highlights some key features in management, including:

  • The use of calcium gluconate and high-d0se insulin infusions to assist with blood pressure support (in isolation or in addition to other vasopressors)
  • The use of intralipid as an end of the line rescue treatment
  • The need to consider co-ingestions and their effects on management (in this case, clonazepam that slows the patient’s respiratory rate enough to require intubation)

Clinical Vigenette

A 48-year-old female presents to the ED with an unknown overdose. She was out drinking with friends until an hour ago. Her daughter came home and found her with vomit around her, empty pill bottles, and bits of pills in her vomit.

Case Summary

A 48-year-old female presents with a possible multi-drug overdose including glyburide, clonazepam and nifedipine. She will remain hypotensive throughout the case, despite treatment with calcium, high dose insulin, and other vasopressors. She will also have progressive respiratory depression and will eventually require intubation. She will then proceed to arrest. The team will be expected to give intralipid once the patient has arrested.

Download the case here: Multi-drug (CCB) OD

ECG for the case found here:

sinus brady with 1st degree hb

(ECG source: http://lifeinthefastlane.com/ecg-library/beta-blocker-and-calcium-channel-blocker-toxicity/sb-1hb/)

Post-intubation CXR for the case found here:

normal-intubation2

(CXR source: https://emcow.files.wordpress.com/2012/11/normal-intubation2.jpg)

Pediatric Septic Shock

This case is written by Dr. Kyla Caners. She is a staff emergency physician in Hamilton, Ontario and the Simulation Director of McMaster University’s FRCP-EM program. She is also one of the Editors-in-Chief here at EmSimCases.

Why it Matters

Children with true septic shock are, thankfully, a rare presentation in the ED. However, recognition of early shock is an essential skill. This case highlights several important features of managing the critically ill child, including:

  • The need for early vascular access (whether that be intravenous or intraosseous, it must be obtained expediently)
  • The importance of monitoring for and treating resultant hypoglycemia
  • The need for early antibiotics

Clinical Vignette

A 4-year-old girl presents to your pediatric ED. Her mother states she is “not herself” and seems “lethargic.” She’s had a fever and a cough for the last three days. Today she just seems different. She was brought straight into a resus room and the charge nurse came to find you to tell you the child looks unwell.

Case Summary

A 4 year-old girl is brought to the ED because she is “not herself.” She has had 3 days of fever and cough and is previously healthy. She looks toxic on arrival with delayed capillary refill, a glazed stare, tachypnea and tachycardia. The team will be unable to obtain IV access and will need to insert an IO. Once they have access, they will need to resuscitate by pushing fluids. If they do not, the patient’s BP will drop. If a cap sugar is not checked, the patient will seize. The patient will remain listless after fluid resuscitation and will require intubation.

Download the case here: Pediatric Septic Shock

ECG for the case found here:

sinus-tachycardia

(ECG source: http://lifeinthefastlane.com/ecg-library/sinus-tachycardia/)

CXR for the case found here:

pediatric-pneumonia

(CXR source: http://radiopaedia.org/articles/round-pneumonia-1)

Adrenal Crisis

This case is written by Dr. Kyla Caners. She is a staff emergency physician in Hamilton, Ontario and the Simulation Director of McMaster University’s FRCP-EM program. She is also one of the Editors-in-Chief here at EmSimCases.

Why it Matters

While adrenal crisis is a relatively rare presentation, shock is not. This case highlights several important points, including:

  • The importance of having an approach to fluid non-responsive shock
  • How difficult it can be to shift cognitive frames and resist diagnostic anchoring
  • The electrolyte abnormalities associated with adrenal crisis (hyponatremia, hyperkalemia, and hypoglycemia)
  • The need to treat an adrenal crisis with corticosteroids

Clinical Vignette

A 46-year-old female presents to the ED complaining of fatigue, anorexia, and weight loss over the last two weeks. She had the “stomach flu” a couple weeks ago and thought she was getting over it. But now she feels very weak and seems to be vomiting again. Her blood pressure is 80/40, so she was triaged straight to the resuscitation bay.

Case Summary

A 46-year-old female presents to the ED complaining of fatigue, anorexia, and weight loss over the last two weeks. She had the “stomach flu” a couple weeks ago and thought she was getting over it. But now she feels very weak and seems to be vomiting again. On presentation, the patient will have mild hypothermia, hypoglycemia, and hypotension. The team will have to initiate fluid resuscitation and an initial workup. The patient’s blood pressure won’t respond to 4 L of IV fluids, forcing the residents to work through the differential diagnosis of shock. Eventually, they will receive critical VBG results that indicate a mild metabolic acidosis, hyperkalemia, and hyponatremia. The team will need to treat the hyperkalemia and initiate hydrocortisone therapy.

Download the case here: Adrenal Crisis Case

ECG for the case found here:

peaked-t-waves

(ECG source: http://lifeinthefastlane.com/ecg-library/basics/hyperkalaemia/)

CXR for the case found here:

normal female CXR radiopedia

(CXR source: https://radiopaedia.org/cases/normal-chest-radiograph-female-1)

Pericardial U/S for the case found here:

(U/S courtesy of the McMaster PoCUS Subspecialty Training Program)

FAST image for the case found here:

no FF

(U/S courtesy of the McMaster PoCUS Subspecialty Training Program)