Nightmares Case 1: Bradycardia

This is the first in a case series we will be publishing that make up “The Nightmares Course”.

The Nightmares Course at Queen’s University (Kingston, Ontario) was developed in 2011 by Drs. Dan Howes and Mike O’Connor. The course emerged organically in response to requests from first year residents wanting more training in the response to acutely unwell patients. In 2014, Dr. Tim Chaplin took over as the course director and has expanded the course to include first year residents from 14 programs and to provide both formative feedback and summative assessment. The course involves 4 sessions between August and November and a summative OSCE in December. Each session involves 4-5 residents and covers 3 simulated scenarios that are based on common calls to the floor. The course has been adapted for use at the University of Saskatchewan, the University of Manitoba, and the University of Calgary.

Why It Matters

The first few months of residency can be a stressful time with long nights on call and the adjustment to a new level of responsibility. While help should always be available, the first few minutes of managing a decompensating patient is something all junior residents must be competent at. This case series will help to accomplish that through simulation.

Clinical Vignette

The triage note states – Patient “fainted” while returning from the bathroom at home. He was found to be slightly more confused by his wife and complained of right elbow pain.

Case Summary

This is a case of an elderly patient with syncope. He is found to be in third degree heart block.  The team is expected to perform an initial assessment and obtain an ECG. Upon recognizing the heart block, they should ensure IV access and place pacer pads while calling for help.

Download the case here:

Bradycardia

ECG for the case found here:

Brady.jpg

Source: https://www.ecgquest.net/ecg/complete-heart-block-3/

Geriatric Case 2: Chronic Digoxin Toxicity

This case is the second 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

This case demonstrates several diagnostic challenges that can occur with the bradycardic patient on digoxin including:

  • The need to resuscitate the patient appropriately (and thus, empirically treat) while waiting on labs to confirm whether hyperkalemia or digoxin is the culprit
  • The theoretical concern of administering calcium for correction of hyperkalemia (because we usually have a potassium result back before the digoxin level)
  • The need to consider precipitating causes of a patient’s presentation

Clinical Vignette

To be stated by the bedside nurse: “Bertie is an 85-year-old man who has been brought in after a fall at home. He says he is feeling dizzy and has a HR of 30 on the monitor. I haven’t had much of a chance to take more of a history from him but he has a list of medications with him and seems ok from the fall other than a bruise on his head.”

Case Summary

An 85-year-old man presents after a fall at home. He is complaining of dizziness and has a HR of 30. Further assessment reveals chronic digoxin toxicity and a concurrent UTI with acute renal failure. The patient requires management of his bradycardia and acute renal failure with specific management of chronic digoxin toxicity including a discussion with toxicology and administration of Digibind.

Download the case here: Geri EM Chronic Digoxin Toxicity

ECG for the case found here:

(ECG source: http://www.ems12lead.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/42/2014/01/digitalis_ECG.jpg)

CXR for the case found here:

normal cxr

(CXR source: https://radiopaedia.org/images/220869)

 

Anaphylaxis (+/- Laryngospasm)

This case is written by Dr. Donika Orlich. She is a staff physician practising in the Greater Toronto Area. She completed her Emergency Medicine training at McMaster University and also completed a fellowship in Simulation and Medical Education.

Why it Matters

Anaphylaxis is a fairly frequent presentation to the ED. However, severe anaphylaxis requiring multiple epinephrine doses and airway management is quite rare. This case is challenging on its own merit simply due to the stress of intubating an impending airway obstruction. However, if learners are faced with laryngospasm as a complication of anaphylaxis, this case takes on even more important lessons, including:

  • The surprising and unexpected nature of laryngospasm
  • The role of Larson’s point in trying to resolve laryngospasm
  • How quickly children desaturate, and develop resultant bradycardia, as a consequence of laryngospasm

For an excellent review of the management of laryngospasm, click here.

Clinical Vignette

A 7-year-old boy arrives via EMS with increased work of breathing. He has a known allergy to peanuts and developed symptoms after eating birthday cake at a party. He has been given 0.15mg IM epinephrine 10 minutes ago by his mother. Current vital are: HR 140, BP 85/60, RR 40, O2 98% on NRB. He has some ongoing wheeze noted by EMS.

Case Summary

A 7-year-old male presents with wheeze, rash and increased WOB after eating a birthday cake. He has a known allergy to peanuts. The team must initiate usual anaphylaxis treatment including salbutamol for bronchospasm. The patient will then develop worsened hypotension, requiring the start of an epinephrine infusion. After this the patient will experience increased angioedema, prompting the team to consider intubation. If no paralytic is used for intubation (or if intubation is delayed), the patient will experience laryngospasm. The team will be unable to bag-mask ventilate the patient until they ask for either deeper sedation or a paralytic. If a paralytic is used, the team will be able to successfully intubate the child.

Download the case here: Anaphylaxis

Initial CXR for the case found here:

normal pediatric CXR

(CXR source: http://radiology-information.blogspot.ca/2015/04/normal-chest-x-ray.html)

Post-intubation CXR for the case found here:

Normal Pediatric Post-Intubation CXR

(CXR source: http://jetem.org/ettcxr/)

STEMI with Bradycardia

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 requires learners to coordinate multiple components of care at once. A patient presenting with a STEMI requires urgent PCI, however they must also be stable enough to safely travel to the cardiac catheterization lab. This case emphasizes important adjuncts to STEMI management in an unstable patient, including:

  • The utility of transcutaneous pacing and epinephrine infusion in the context of symptomatic bradycardia
  • The importance of recognizing complete heart block as a complication of a STEMI
  • The need for intubation in order to facilitate medication administration and safe transport in a PCI-requiring patient who presents with severe CHF or altered LOC

Clinical Vignette

To be stated by the bedside nurse: “This 65-year-old woman came in with 1 hour of chest pressure and SOB. Her O2 sats were 84% on RA at triage, and they are now 90% with a non-rebreather mask. She’s also bradycardic at 30 and hypotensive at 77/40.”

Case Summary

A 65-year-old female is brought to the ED with chest tightness and SOB. On arrival, she will be found to have an inferior STEMI with resultant 3rd degree heart block and hypotension. The team will be expected to initiate vasopressor support and transcutaneous pacing. However, prior to doing so, the patient will develop a VT arrest requiring ACLS care. After ROSC, the team will need to initiate transcutaneous pacing and activate the cath lab for definitive management.

Download the case here: STEMI with Bradycardia

ECG for the case found here:

Inferior STEMI with CHB

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

CXR for the case found here:

CHF

(CXR source: https://www.med-ed.virginia.edu/courses/rad/cxr/pathology2Bchest.html)

Unstable Bradycardia

This case was written by Dr. Martin Kuuskne from McGill University. Dr. Kuuskne is a PGY5 Emergency Medicine resident and one of the editors-in-chief at EMSimCases.

Why it Matters

High-degree AV blocks (second degree Mobitz type II and third degree AV block) rarely respond to atropine and necessitate the utilization of electromechanical pacing, IV chronotropic agents or both. This case highlights the following points:

  1. Anticipating for the deterioration of patient with an unstable bradycardia by early pacer pad placement and initiating transcutaneous pacing
  2. The use of IV chronotropic agents in the treatment of severe bradycardia
  3. Recognizing PEA in the deteriorating bradycardic patient

Clinical Vignette 

A 78-year-old male from a long-term care facility is being transferred to the emergency department for decreased mental status.

Case Summary

A 78-year-old male presents to the emergency department with an unstable bradycardia. The patient deteriorates from a second degree, Mobitz Type II-AV block into a third degree AV block requiring ACLS protocol medications, transcutaneous pacing, and ultimately transvenous pacing until definitive management with a permanent pacemaker can be arranged.

Download the case here: Bradycardia

First EKG for the case:

http://lifeinthefastlane.com/quiz-ecg-014/

Second EKG for the case:

3rd AVB

http://www.emedu.org/ecg/searchdr.php?diag=3d

CXR for the case here:

CXR

http://radiopaedia.org/

Bedside Ultrasounds for the case: