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:

Post-intubation CXR for the case found here:

Post-intubation CXR neonate

(CXR source:

Ruptured AAA

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

Rupture is the most common and critical complication of an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA). It usually occurs into the retroperitoneum where bleeding may be temporarily limited and allows an opportunity to intervene. This case highlights three important aspects of managing a patient with a AAA rupture.

  • The use of a targeted ultrasound protocol in undifferentiated shock.
  • The concept of permissive hypotension in the treatment of a critical hemorrhage.
  • Rapid stabilization with blood products and organization for the transfer of a critically ill patient to the operating room.

Clinical Vignette 

You are working an evening shift at a tertiary care emergency department. You receive a call from a paramedic to alert you to the arrival of a 70-year old male who had a syncopal episode and was then found to be obtunded by his daughter. The patient is now in the resuscitation bay.

Case Summary

A 70-year-old male presents to the emergency department after a syncopal episode and then found to be obtunded by his daughter. He is hypotensive and tachycardic on arrival secondary to a AAA rupture into the retroperitoneal space. He requires intubation and fluid resuscitation with blood products to avoid a PEA arrest secondary to hypovolemia.

Download the case here: Ruptured AAA

ECG for case found here: 

Preintubation CXR for case found here: 


Postintubation CXR for case found here: 

Ultrasounds for case found here: