ED Muskoka Physicians - Living the Dream

January Virtual Journal Club

I’ll post a more “official” article and review later in the month but I came across this article about abscesses and thought it was interesting. Skin abscesses are not the sexiest topic but we treat them frequently so it would be worth considering a practice change if it improved patient comfort and/or outcome.

The SGEM post and podcast (link below) summarizes the article and does a critical appraisal. Original article is posted here: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/acem.14106

Essentially they looked at treatment failure as a primary outcome after treatment of skin abscesses with the loop technique versus standard packing with ribbon gauze. Secondary outcomes were ease of procedure, pain at the time of treatment, ease of care at 36 hours, and pain at 36 hours.

Study conclusion was:

“The LOOP and packing techniques had similar failure rates for treatment of subcutaneous abscesses in adults, but the LOOP technique had significantly fewer failures in children. Overall, pain and patient satisfaction were significantly better in patients treated using the LOOP technique.”

A few thoughts/questions:

What is everyone’s usual practice? Packing vs. no packing vs. leaving a small wick? Has anyone tried this loop technique?

Do we even stock vessel ties in the ER?

Given the questionable evidence regarding packing, wouldn’t it be easier to just not pack at all (ie. no loop or standard packing)?

Pediatric Sepsis


A review of the CPS Practice Point on Pediatric Sepsis (2020)

Fortunately, pediatric sepsis is relatively rare. We all treat adults with sepsis multiple times a month, but a child in septic shock is a rare, and terrifying, presentation in our community ER. However, sepsis is a major cause of morbidity and mortality in children, and requires prompt recognition and treatment. Just like in adults, sepsis care guidelines have focused on creating a systematic approach to these cases. This ‘practice point’ article put out by the CPS in 2020 uses 4 cases to succinctly review current global guidelines (including the Surviving Sepsis Campaign’s Pediatric Subgroup’s 2020 update). It’s worth a quick read. Not a classic journal club article as I’m not going through critical appraisal of the literature, but thought it was worth a quick review! Also, ties into the sim we ran this month – see below 🙂

We ran a simulated case this morning in Huntsville that highlighted a few practical points:

Case was a 7mo boy with ALL on chemo, presents with a fever, tachycardia, poor perfusion and altered mental status.

Key points : 

1. Early recognition of sepsis is key!  Worth regularly reviewing normal vitals in peds (chart in CPS article). Also we will be laminating a copy of a chart of normal pediatric vitals to hang on the side of the Peds crash carts (along with the NRP cards). Remember: a hypotensive septic kid is peri-arrest!

2. Practicalities of administering a fluid bolus in a baby – NEVER hang fluid by gravity (risk of too much or too little fluid) can put on pump or (preferably) do a push-pull method (draw off IV line with 60cc syringe, then push calculated amount over 5 minutes)   – R/A for response/fluid overload after each 20cc/kg bolus, aim for 60cc/kg in first hour of resuscitation and think about adding a vasopressor if not responding after 2nd bolus.

3. Vasopressors: 1st line is traditionally dopamine (which we have pre-mixed in crash cart) but this has changed officially in 2020  – Epinephrine (cold shock) or Norepinephrine (warm shock) is preferred, but these will need to be mixed up. (Look in dosing book on top of peds cart and be aware concentrations are vastly different from the way we mix it for adults!!)

4. Antibiotics – give early, give as IV push. Typically will be Ceftriaxone (100mg/kg) unless need broader coverage for risk MRSA/pseudomonas/immunosuppression etc.

5. Hydrocortisone – use more liberally in peds than adults, for fluid-refratory shock in sepsis, especially if history of steroid use (asthma/chemo etc). Dose = 2mg/kg IV push.

6. Hypoglycemia – more common in septic kids than adults. Remember D50 is caustic on veins, and not preferred in peds <2y. Can use D10W (1L bag kept1 in side of crash cart)  or dilute the D50 that is kept on the crash cart down to D25 with equal volume NS. Dose = 2.5-5mL/kg D10 IV push  OR 4ml/kg D25 IV

Great website for resources to review this topic including videos and a pdf algorithm which I’ve tried to attach:


What do you think the biggest barrier is in our department to providing excellent pediatric care? Do you have any suggestions for how we can improve?

Aerosol Generating Procedures


Journal of anesthesia 

Purpose of the Study  – Quantify the amount of aerosolization during aerosol generating procedures to inform risk assessment

Study Design

-They monitored aerosolization with continuous sampling with an optical particle sizer, which allowed characterisation of aerosol generation within the zone between the patient and anaesthetist

-The extent to which COVID is transmitted as airborne is controversial 

Problems with the study

-Small sample size – used 4 ORs in the UK

-Only 19 intubations and 14 extubations 

-During intubation they use BVM and not RSI


– Tracheal intubation including facemask ventilation produced very low quantities of aerosolized particles – 500x less than a cough (actually state that “this study does not support the designation of elective tracheal intubation as aerosol generating”.

-Extubation, particularly when the patient coughed, produced a detectable aerosol, 15 folds greater than intubation but 35 folds less than a volatile cough .

Questions– They just say “facemask ventilation” – I think they need to be more specific.  What type of facemask did they use, what was the flow rate?

Take away –

(1)If a break in PPE then chance of acquiring COVID is probably minimal during intubation.

(2) patients coughing on us is more risk than intubation, therefore patient’s properly wearing masks can reduce this.

Development and Validation of a Penicillin Allergy Clinical Decision Rule
Trubiano et al. March 2020
JAMA Intern Med. 2020;180(5):745-752. doi:10.1001/ jamainternmed.2020.0403
• Many patients self-report a penicillin allergy restricting antibiotic choice, and affecting antibiotic stewardship and local resistance patterns.
• Only 10% of self-reported penicillin allergies are confirmed.
• This prospective Australian study (n=622) sought to develop a point of
care clinical decision tool to identify the risk factors for a true penicillin
• Patients reporting a penicillin allergy underwent skin-prick testing,
intradermal testing, patch testing and/or an oral challenge (directly or
after skin testing).
• The prevalence of a positive penicillin allergy was 9.3%.
• The 4 factors associated with a positive result in the penicillin allergy test
are identified by the mnemonic PEN-FAST
• For patients reporting a PENicillin allergy:
• Five years or less since reaction (2 points)
• Anaphylaxis or angioedema OR
• Severe cutaneous adverse reaction (2 points)
• Treatment required for reaction (1 point)
0 points = Very low risk of positive penicillin allergy test <1% 1-2 points = Low risk of positive penicillin allergy test 5%
3 points = Moderate risk of positive penicillin allergy test 20% 4 points = High risk of positive penicillin allergy test 50%
• Using a cut-off of <3 gives a

• sensitivity of 70.7% • specificity of 78.5% • PPV of 25.3%
• NPV of 96.3%
• If a patient is low risk (ie <3), the study authors recommend an oral challenge in the ED prior to being sent home with a prescription.


HALT IT – TXA for GI Bleeds

For this month’s physically distanced Journal Club – a review of the HALT IT trial looking at TXA for GI Bleeds.

Effects of a high-dose 24-h infusion of tranexamic acid on death and thromboembolic events in patients with acute gastrointestinal bleeding (HALT-IT): an international randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. The Lancet. 2020; 395(10241):1927-1936.  https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(20)30848-5/fulltext


  • Tranexemic acid (TXA) did NOT reduce 5-day mortality in upper and lower GI bleed patients.
  • It did show small increase risk of VTE.
  • Well designed, large trial. Best evidence to date for TXA in GI bleed.


  • GI bleeds have a high mortality rate (10%)
  • TXA is an antifibrinolytic agent that has been shown to be effective at preventing bleeding complications in a variety of settings (surgery, trauma, epistaxis)
    • We love it for its low cost, minimal SE profile, and numerous indications in the ER
  • A 2012 Cochrane Review for UGIB showed a reduction in all-cause mortality with TXA for GI bleeds
    • However, individual trials were small and prone to biases making it difficult to draw definitive conclusions… but was the best evidence we had until now

Clinical Question:

  • Does IV tranexamic acid reduce 5-day death due to bleeding?


  • International, multi-centre, randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled trial (15 countries, 164 hospitals)
  • Intervention:
    • 1g TXA IV over 10 min the 125mg/hr x 24 hours (3g) vs. Placebo


  • Adults (>16/18 yo depending on country)
  • With “significant” acute GI bleeding
    • Risk of bleeding to death:  
      • Hypotension
      • Tachycardia
      • Signs of shock
      • Likely to need transfusion, urgent endoscopy or surgery
  • Treating clinician had to be “substantially uncertain” about whether to use TXA


  • Primary outcome: death due to bleeding at 5 days
  • Secondary outcomes:
    • Death due to bleeding at 24 h and 28 d randomization
    • All cause and cause specific mortality at 28d
    • Rebleed (24h, 5d, 28d)
    • Blood product transfusion
    • MI/CVA
    • VTE (DVT/PE)
    • Seizures
    • Days in the ICU
    • Functional status in-hospital or at 28d
    • Other (cardiac events, sepsis, pneumonia, resp failure, renal failure, liver failure)


  • Patients:
    • 12 009 patients enrolled
    • 65% male, mean age 58
    • the mean time from bleeding onset to randomization was 22 hours
      • only 16% of patients presented within 3 hours
    • 89% had upper GI bleeding
    • 45% suspected to have variceal bleeds
    • 60% showed NO signs of shock at enrolment
  • Primary outcome:
    • Death due to bleeding at 5 days = 3.7% (n=222) of TXA group and 3.8% (n=226) of placebo group (RR 0.99, 95% CI 0.82-1.18)
  • Secondary outcomes:
    • All cause mortality at 28 days (9.5% of TXA group and 9.2% of placebo group, RR 1.03, 95% CI 0.92-1.16)
    • No difference in rebleeding, surgery, endoscopy, need for transfusion, or total blood products transfused
    • RISKS – doubling of venous thromboembolic events (0.4% placebo and 0.8% TXA (RR 1.85, 95% CI 1.15-2.98)
    • NNH = 250


  • The authors changed the primary outcome from “all-cause mortality” to “death due to bleeding at 5d”
    • Not entirely sure why, as “all cause mortality” is clinically more relevant to us, “death” vs “death from bleeding” are one and the same when talking to family members
    • However, the change of this primary outcome forced the authors to increase their sample size by 4000, and still powered the study to detect a difference in the original outcome
  • The majority of patients in the trial had variceal bleeding due to liver disease and accounted for 75% of deaths, but also increased risk of VTE was more pronounced in patients with liver disease
  • Only 9% of patients were on anticoagulants, so unsure of applicability of data to that group


  • Overall really well done study, very few protocol violations, excellent follow up
  • Time to randomization was high (mean ~ 22hrs)
    • Looking back at CRASH-2 showed mortality benefit (>20 000 pts, 4.9% vs 5.7% (p = 0.0077)) when 1g TXA given <3 hrs, but not after that.
    • Perhaps we would have been benefit it TXA was administered earlier in GI bleed patients
    • However, if these patients don’t present to us within that time frame, there is no point seeing if TXA works for GI bleeds if given in <3hrs
  • Since CRASH2 there has been lots of interest in TXA, but multiple studies since this positive publication have failed to show similar benefit from TXA
    • TICH -2 – no difference in mortality or neurological outcomes with TXA and ICH (Sprigg 2018)
    • WOMAN no difference in mortality or hysterectomy in PPH (WOMAN 2017) (*revised primary outcome, “death due to PPH” showed small benefit, NNT 267, but fragility index 0…, so overall not a resounding “positive study” in my opinion)
    • CRASH3 – no difference in mortality or neurologic outcomes in TBI (CRASH 2019)
    • Important to have these negative studies published given the well known publication bias of only positive studies
  • Not entirely clear why they had the inclusion criteria of “clinician substantially uncertain whether to use TXA”
    • How do we know if our gestalt is correct if we eliminated those patients from the trial?
    • Perhaps this is mostly to include obvious criteria such as allergy, or for ethical reasons for clinicians to be able to treat patients to the best of their ability, but it is hard to know how many patients were not included and if that would have had any effect on the outcome

Take Home Thoughts:

  • Despite some of the study weaknesses, this is a very well-designed, large trial, and a “negative” trial of this magnitude is clinically important.
  • Based on the current evidence, I will not be using TXA in the management of the GI bleed patients
  • What are you thoughts? Does this change your clinical practice?


  1. Crash-2 Collaborators. (2011). The importance of early treatment with tranexamic acid in bleeding trauma patients: an exploratory analysis of the CRASH-2 randomised controlled trial. The Lancet377(9771), 1096-1101.
  2. Dewan, Y., Komolafe, E. O., Mejía-Mantilla, J. H., Perel, P., Roberts, I., & Shakur, H. (2012). CRASH-3-tranexamic acid for the treatment of significant traumatic brain injury: study protocol for an international randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Trials13(1), 1-14.
  3. Gluud, L. L., Klingenberg, S. L., & Langholz, E. (2012). Tranexamic acid for upper gastrointestinal bleeding. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, (1).
  4. Effects of a high-dose 24-h infusion of tranexamic acid on death and thromboembolic events in patients with acute gastrointestinal bleeding (HALT-IT): an international randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. The Lancet. 2020; 395(10241):1927-1936. 
  5. Justin Morgenstern, “TXA for GI bleeds”, First10EM blog, March 9, 2020. Available at: https://first10em.com/txa-for-gi-bleeds/.
  6. Roberts, I., Shakur-Still, H., Afolabi, A., Akere, A., Arribas, M., Brenner, A., … & Jairath, V. (2020). Effects of a high-dose 24-h infusion of tranexamic acid on death and thromboembolic events in patients with acute gastrointestinal bleeding (HALT-IT): an international randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. The Lancet395(10241), 1927-1936.
  7. Salim Rezaie, “REBEL Cast Ep85: The HALT-IT Trial – TXA in Acute GI Bleeds”, REBEL EM blog, June 27, 2020. Available at: https://rebelem.com/rebel-cast-ep85-the-halt-it-trial-txa-in-acute-gi-bleeds/.
  8. Shakur, H., Elbourne, D., Gülmezoglu, M., Alfirevic, Z., Ronsmans, C., Allen, E., & Roberts, I. (2010). The WOMAN Trial (World Maternal Antifibrinolytic Trial): tranexamic acid for the treatment of postpartum haemorrhage: an international randomised, double blind placebo controlled trial. Trials11(1), 40.
  9. Sprigg, N., Flaherty, K., Appleton, J. P., Salman, R. A. S., Bereczki, D., Beridze, M., … & Dineen, R. A. (2018). Tranexamic acid for hyperacute primary IntraCerebral Haemorrhage (TICH-2): an international randomised, placebo-controlled, phase 3 superiority trial. The Lancet, 391(10135), 2107-2115.

Atrial Fibrillation: Pharmacological vs Electrical

Hey guys. Hopefully better late than never! I am on virtual Journal Club this month. Thanks Pierre for the reminder.

In the busy Muskoka ED department. Patients coming in with atrial fibrillation requiring cardioversion. Chemical vs Electrical vs combination of both. Which option allows for the best outcome and what allows for me to keep the best flow in the department?

Electrical versus pharmacological cardioversion for emergency department patients with acute atrial brillation (RAFF2):
a partial factorial randomised trial

Lancet 2020; 395: 339–49

The Question:

  1. compare the sinus conversion of pharmacological cardioversion followed by electrical cardioversion to electrical cardioversion along
  2. effectiveness anteroposterior vs anterolateral pad placement

Group 1: procainamide 15mg/kg (max 1500mg over 30min) wait 30minutes and then electrical cardioversion vs placebo infusion and then electrical cardioversion. Around 200 patients assigned to each group.

96% of patients in drug-shock group converted vs 92% in the shock group. 52% in the drug shock group converted after infusion (in the drug-shock group) and 9% after the placebo infusion.

Adverse events: transient hypotension more common in the drug-shock group (resolved with fluids) and one cardiac arrest in the shock only group (not synchronized cardioversion)

Time in the ED:
Similar in both groups (however, electrical cardioversion received placebo infusion, so likely not accurate representation)

For Pad placement: no different between anteroposterior vs anterolateral.

For more intense analysis of the article check out RebelEM: https://rebelem.com/raff2-electrical-vs-pharmacological-cardioversion-for-ed-patients-with-acute-atrial-fibrillation/

So… would you use procainamide infusion and potentially save 50% of the Afib procedural sedations in the department?

Hypertension In The Emergency Department (Pierre Mikhail)

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PECARN Febrile infant tool

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Tylenol Overdose

Hi all,

Attached is the NEW updated and simplified NAC protocol for Tylenol overdoses. Take a little read. I have asked our Nurse leaders at both ER’s to update our protocols too!!


Double Sequence Defibrillation

Posting the summary document on double sequence defibrillation for cases of refractory VF here on EDMuskoka for future reference.

YES our monitors can do this
YES you need 2 monitors with 2 sets of pad placements (see diagram)
YES you push the button at the SAME TIME (really dual simultaneous defibrillation)

you can read more & find a video at http://theresusroom.co.uk/double-sequential-defibrillation
and a 2016 article at https://www.resuscitationjournal.com/article/S0300-9572(16)30398-7/abstract

Double Sequential Defibrillation for Refractory VF