Securing the airway of a severely traumatized patient is fraught with difficulties. There can be anatomic difficulties associated with facial and neck injuries. There are often physiologic difficulties from uncommon causes of shock (like pericardial tamponade). But emergency physicians have all the skills needed to safely handle any trauma airway!
Undifferentiated Abdominal Pain + Shock
A 67yr old male with multiple comorbidities is brought by ambulance with a 3-day history of diffuse abdominal pain. The history is vague and the differential of his symptoms remains very broad. He develops significantly worsening pain and hypotension and becomes obtunded. As the patient’s condition deteriorates, the team must initiate management of abdominal pain plus shock and support the hemodynamics with vasopressors/inotropes. The team will need to intubate to facilitate advanced imaging and definitive care.
A 2.5 year old child falls from the 3rd floor balcony and presents to a community hospital. The team is expected to coordinate a thorough trauma survey. The patient will initially demonstrate compensated shock requiring aggressive resuscitation. After this initial phase, findings of severe head injury will become apparent. The team must optimize the patient for transfer to definitive care.
Beta Blocker Toxicity
A 44-year-old male presents to the emergency department following the ingestion of an entire bottle of metoprolol. Decontamination strategies should be utilized alongside consultation with poison control. Patient clinically deteriorates as the drug reaches peak effects, requiring IV fluids, atropine, calcium, glucagon, multi-dose vasopressors, high dose insulin, and a discussion around potential salvage therapies.