Geriatric Case 3: Termination of Resuscitation

This case is the third in a six-part mini-series focusing on the management of geriatric patients in the ED. This series of cases was written by Drs. Rebecca Shaw, Nemat Alsaba, and Victoria Brazil.

Dr. Rebecca Shaw is an emergency physician currently working as a Medical Education Fellow within the Emergency department of the Gold Coast Hospital and Health Service in Queensland, Australia. Dr. Nemat Alsaba (@talk2nemat) is an Emergency physician with a special interest in Geriatric Emergency Medicine, medical education and simulation. She is trying her best to combine these interests to improve Geriatric patient care across all health sectors. She is also an Assistant professor in medical education and simulation at Bond university. Dr. Victoria Brazil is an emergency physician and medical educator. She is Professor of Emergency Medicine and Director of Simulation at the Gold Coast Health Service, and at Bond University medical program. Victoria’s main interests are in connecting education with patient care – through healthcare simulation, technology enabled learning, faculty development activities, and talking at conferences. Victoria is an enthusiast in the social media and #FOAMed world (@SocraticEM), and she is co-producer of Simulcast (Simulationpodcast.com).

Why it Matters

Deciding when to terminate CPR is a very delicate moment in a patient’s care. It is literally the determination of possible life vs. certain death. There are clear guidelines for when to terminate resuscitation in certain contexts, but for patients who are brought to the ED by EMS, there is no true objective measure of when to terminate CPR. This is where determination of quality of life is important. In the elderly, the likelihood of a meaningful quality of life after a CPR-requiring event is quite low. Recognizing this futility is an important and challenging skill to learn. Being able to debrief with your team and discuss these events further is another essential skill that is often not practiced. This case gives the opportunity to learn and enhance these skills.

Clinical Vignette

ED RN to inform team prior to patient’s arrival: “We have an out of hospital cardiac arrest coming in with an unknown downtime and unknown past medical history. He is an 89-year-old male coming from home. He has had no shocks and CPR is in progress. They are one minute away.”

Case Summary

An elderly male is brought in by ambulance from home with CPR in progress. He collapsed in front of his son/daughter who commenced CPR. His rhythm has been PEA throughout and his downtime is 20 minutes. Participants should assess the patient, gather information about his background and determine that CPR is futile. They should decide to cease CPR and inform his son/daughter in a sensitive manner that their father has died. They will also debrief the team following the termination of resuscitation.

Download the case here: Geri EM Termination of Resuscitation

U/S for the case found here:

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

LVAD Case

This week’s case is written by Drs. Ashley Lubberdink and Sameer Sharif. Dr. Lubberdink is a PGY4 Emergency Medicine resident at McMaster University and is just beginning her fellowship in simulation and medical education. Dr. Sharif is a PGY5 Emergency Medicine resident at McMaster University who has just completed his fellowship in simulation and medical education.

Why it Matters

LVADs are pretty uncommon devices! If your practice location is not a hospital that inserts LVADs, then it is likely that you have never come across a patient with an LVAD. Without prior knowledge of these devices, it can be quite distressing trying to assess these patients. This case is designing to highlight the following:

  • LVAD patients do not have a pulse, a measurable blood pressure, or a detectable heart rate on the sat probe
  • To assess for blood pressure, one must insert an arterial line or use a blood pressure cuff and doppler U/S to obtain the MAP
  • Early after LVAD placement, drive line infection and bleeding are common complications
  • Call for help early! These patients generally have care providers who are available to help trouble shoot by phone at all hours of the day

More Reading

For more information on an approach to LVADs, we suggest the following sources:

https://emcrit.org/emcrit/left-ventricular-assist-devices-lvads-2/

https://canadiem.org/lvads-approach-ed/

Clinical Vignette

A 62-year-old male presents to your large community ED with a 1 day history of generalized malaise and nausea and a 2-hour history of palpitations. He is particularly concerned about his symptoms because last month he had an LVAD placed at your provinces’ major cardiac center (3 hours away) for stage 4 CHF. His wife is accompanying him but is currently parking the car.

Case Summary

A 62-year-old man presents to the ED with palpitations and general malaise. On initial assessment, the team finds out he had an LVAD placed within the last 1 month. The team will need to work through how to assess the patient’s vital signs appropriately and will discover the patient has a low MAP and a low-grade fever. On inspection, the patient’s drive line site will appear infected. The initial ECG will show features of hyperkalemia. After the initial assessment, the patient will progress to a PEA arrest requiring resuscitation by ACLS protocols. Labs will reveal an acute kidney injury and hyperkalemia. The patient will obtain ROSC when the hyperkalemia is treated.

Download the case here: LVAD Case

Initial ECG for the case found here:

hyperkalemia

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

Second ECG for the case found here:

hyperkalemia narrow QRS

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

CXR for the case found here:

LVAD-CXR

(CXR source: https://edecmo.org/additional-technologies/ventricular-assist-devices-vads/lvads/)

Picture of drive line site infection found here:

driveline infection A

(Picture source: http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/1179065217714216)

Echo for case found here:

(Echo source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-4ThAo4m2UI)

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)