Status Epilepticus

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 review of the management of status epilepticus and includes 2nd, 3rd, and 4th line agents for treatment. This case also highlights a few unique practice challenges, including:

  • The hemodynamic effects of administering phenytoin too quickly
  • Disclosing medical error to families
  • Special agents to be considered in refractory seizure, such as magnesium sulfate, hypertonic saline, and pyridoxine

Clinical Vignette

A 38 year-old female is brought in by EMS with active seizure. She was last seen normal about 45 minutes ago by her husband, and has been witnessed seizing now for about 20 minutes. She is known to have epilepsy. EMS have 1 line in place, and 5mg IV midazolam was given en route.

Case Summary

A 38 year-old female presents actively seizing with EMS. She will fail to respond to repeat doses of IV benzodiazepines, and will require escalating medial management. Following phenytoin infusion, the patient will become hypotensive (because the phenytoin was given as a “push dose”, which the nurse will mention). The patient will then stop her GTC seizure, but will remain unresponsive with eye deviation. The team should recognize this as subclinical status, and proceed to intubate the patient.   The patient will continue to seize following phenobarbital and propofol infusion. Urgent consults to radiology and ICU should be made to expedite care out of the ED. The team will be expected to debrief the phenytoin medication error and disclose the error to the husband.

Download the case here: Status Epilepticus

ECG for the case found here:

normal-sinus-rhythm

(ECG source: http://i0.wp.com/lifeinthefastlane.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/normal-sinus-rhythm.jpg)

Post-intubation CXR for the case found here:

normal-intubation2

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

Hyponatremic Seizure

This case is written by Dr. Kyla Caners. She is a PGY5 Emergency Medicine resident at McMaster University and is also one of the Editors-in-Chief here at EMSimCases.

Why it Matters

This case allows educators to review the approach to a common condition while also pushing learners to think outside conventional treatments. In particular, it demonstrates:

  • The importance of a broad differential diagnosis in the elderly patient with weakness
  • The typical management pathway for a patient with status epilepticus
  • The treatment of symptomatic hyponatremia and the urgency with which it must be given.

Clinical Vignette

Agnes Jones is a 93 year old female who has been brought to the ED by her daughter. The family has noticed that Agnes is not eating well over the last few months. She seems weak. Now, over the last day or so, she seems confused.

Case Summary

A 93 year old woman comes in with family. They are concerned about general weakness, worsening PO intake over the last few months, and new confusion. As the team takes a history and starts the initial workup, the patient will begin to seize. She will seize continuously until hypertonic saline or a paralytic is given. After two doses of benzodiazepine, a critical result showing severe hyponatremia will come back. The team is expected to administer hypertonic saline, which will stop the seizure. The patient will remain somnolent after this dosing, and as the team prepares to intubate, she will seize again, requiring a repeated dose of hypertonic saline.

Download the case here: Hyponatremic Seizure

ECG for case found here:

normal-sinus-rhythm

(ECG source: http://cdn.lifeinthefastlane.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/normal-sinus-rhythm.jpg)

Pre-intubation CXR for the case found here:

normal-female-chest

(CXR source: http://radiologypics.com/2013/01/25/normal-female-chest-radiograph/)

Post-intubation CXR for the case found here:

Normal Post-Intubation CXR

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