If you have a BVM (Bag Valve Mask resuscitator), you should not need naloxone. The problem is inadequate respiration, not inadequate naloxonation.

- Rogue Medic

Anecdotes and the Appearance of Improvement

ResearchBlogging.org
 
We like to give treatments that produce results that we can see and logically attribute to the treatments we gave.

We like to give IV (IntaVenous) furosemide (Lasix – frusemide in Commonwealth countries) for CHF (Congestive Heart Failure).
 

1. The patient had CHF.

2. I gave IV furosemide.

3. The patient produced urine.

4. The patient improved.
 

Anecdotes like this can lead us to the conclusion that the furosemide produced the improvement, even if we have been giving many other treatments along with the Lasix.

We can use logic to back up that conclusion.
 

1. CHF is fluid in the lungs.

2. CHF is too much fluid.

3. Getting rid of the fluid gets rid of the problem.

4. The patient improved, so the logic must be sound.
 

But is the logic sound? Is the conclusion justified or are we seeing what we want to see?

The way we find out is by studying patients with similar enough presentations that they are treated the same way, except that not all patients are given Lasix.

When we study the results of furosemide on CHF, we see that the things we have been told about IV Lasix are not true.
 

Hypothesis #1. Acute CHF patients are overloaded with fluid. We have to remove the fluid to save them.

CHF = Pee or die!
 


Image credit.
 

This hypothesis was tested – all the way back in 1978, but the myth continues.
 


 

The concept that acute heeart failure with pulmonary edema is associated with an increase in intravascular volume is therefore not supported. To the contrary, there is a reduction of blood volume during acute pulmonary edema.[1]

 

The normal patients had 22% more total plasma volume.

The normal patients had 21% more total blood volume.

The need to remove fluids is based on what?

It is interesting that this study was of patients treated with oxygen, morphine, and furosemide. Only oxygen is still important in the acute treatment of CHF/ADHF.
 

Hypothesis #2. IV Lasix almost immediately causes vasodilation.

No.

IV Lasix almost immediately causes vasoconstriction.

This hypothesis was tested – in 1985, but this myth also continues.
 


 

The use of intravenous furosemide in patients with chronic congestive heart failure, although well established, can promote further clinical hemodynamic deterioration during the first 20 minutes.[2]

 

Lasix raises blood pressure in emergency treatment of CHF.
 

Hypothesis #3. IV Lasix improves outcomes for acute CHF patients.

No.

IV Lasix does not improve outcomes for acute CHF patients.

This hypothesis was also tested a long time ago (in 1987), and at other times, but the myth persists longer than the patients treated with Lasix.[3]
 


 

If we can eliminate a treatment and the outcomes of patients do not get worse, where is the benefit from the treatment?

Why expose the patient to the side effects of a treatment, if the patient is not expected to benefit from the treatment?

Footnotes:

[1] Blood volume prior to and following treatment of acute cardiogenic pulmonary edema.
Figueras J, Weil MH.
Circulation. 1978 Feb;57(2):349-55.
PMID: 618625 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Free Full Text Download from Circulation in PDF format.

[2] Acute vasoconstrictor response to intravenous furosemide in patients with chronic congestive heart failure. Activation of the neurohumoral axis.
Francis GS, Siegel RM, Goldsmith SR, Olivari MT, Levine TB, Cohn JN.
Ann Intern Med. 1985 Jul;103(1):1-6.
PMID: 2860833 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

[3] Comparison of nitroglycerin, morphine and furosemide in treatment of presumed pre-hospital pulmonary edema.
Hoffman JR, Reynolds S.
Chest. 1987 Oct;92(4):586-93.
PMID: 3115687 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Free Full Text from Chest.

Figueras J, & Weil MH (1978). Blood volume prior to and following treatment of acute cardiogenic pulmonary edema. Circulation, 57 (2), 349-55 PMID: 618625

Francis GS, Siegel RM, Goldsmith SR, Olivari MT, Levine TB, & Cohn JN (1985). Acute vasoconstrictor response to intravenous furosemide in patients with chronic congestive heart failure. Activation of the neurohumoral axis. Annals of internal medicine, 103 (1), 1-6 PMID: 2860833

Hoffman JR, & Reynolds S (1987). Comparison of nitroglycerin, morphine and furosemide in treatment of presumed pre-hospital pulmonary edema. Chest, 92 (4), 586-93 PMID: 3115687

.

The Media are Just As Bad at Ethics As They are at Science

 
There is another article about the adrenaline (epinephrine in non-Commonwealth countries) vs. placebo in cardiac arrest trial that is about to start in England.[1] Media sites no longer seem to want to spend money to get valid information on science or ethics. Forbes provides another example of the writer completely missing the obvious.
 

It’s one thing to treat an incapacitated emergency patient without consent, when you’re administering a standard therapy already proven to be beneficial.[2]

 

Nobody is being deprived of anything that has been adequately tested on humans. Why assume that the untested and unknown standard treatment is beneficial?

The active drug (adrenaline) is an unknown. There is no good evidence that adrenaline improves outcomes.

If you disagree, provide some evidence that shows that adrenaline is better than placebo at anything that matters.

Adrenaline is an unknown because it has never been adequately studied. The only study that has tried to compare it to placebo was limited by politicians and the media – the people who know the least about how science works.

This is like being told that you will be put in a room with either a killer or a mannequin. Which one do you want. Except that we do not know if adrenaline is a killer. We do not have enough information. The only way to find out is to study it.

The research so far is negative. Is that because the adrenaline is given too late? Is that because too much adrenaline is given? Is that because we give it to everyone still dead after a few minutes?

We do not know.

We treat adrenaline like snake oil – Able to cure all kinds of cardiac arrest. Step right up and get your magic elixir. Cures baldness, too!
 


Image credit.
 

When the sales pitch is that the drug fixes everything, we should be very suspicious.

Cardiac arrest due to blood loss?   Give adrenaline.

Cardiac arrest due to slow heart rate?   Give adrenaline.

Cardiac arrest due to fast heart rate?   Give adrenaline.

Cardiac arrest due to irritated heart?   Give adrenaline.

Cardiac arrest due to not enough stimulus to the heart?   Give adrenaline.

Cardiac arrest due to drug over-dose?   Give adrenaline.

Cardiac arrest due to drug under-dose?   Give adrenaline.

Cardiac arrest due to diabetes problem?   Give adrenaline.

Cardiac arrest due to infectious disease?   Give adrenaline.

Cardiac arrest due to lightning strike?   Give adrenaline.

Cardiac arrest due to drowning?   Give adrenaline.

Cardiac arrest due to asthma?   Give adrenaline.

Cardiac arrest due to stroke?   Give adrenaline.

Cardiac arrest due to cancer?   Give adrenaline.

Cardiac arrest due to adrenaline overdose?   Give adrenaline.

We do not discriminate. We just give adrenaline. All of the other drugs have failed to produce a benefit, but we still believe in adrenaline without good evidence. We have been using adrenaline for over half a century on unsuspecting people and we still have no evidence that it works.
 

However, the more important issue is what you as a patient think. Should scientists be able to enroll you in a life-or-death medical experiment without your consent?[2]

 

Adrenaline has worked in laboratory animals, but every drug that is tested in humans is supposed to have worked in animals. Why doesn’t adrenaline work in humans? If it does work, where is the evidence?

The standard of care is an experiment that is not controlled and not even acknowledged. The guidelines clearly state that we do not know what works and that we should only consider adrenaline, but that we do not have any good evidence that adrenaline improves outcomes for anyone.

The ethical failure is that we have failed to find out if what we are giving is harmful.
 

We have only improved outcomes when we have ignored the drugs and paid attention to chest compressions and defibrillation.
 

We are lying to patients when we tell them that we know what works in cardiac arrest.

How much worse than placebo is adrenaline? We don’t know. Failing to find out is what is unethical.

Footnotes:

[1] Does a Placebo vs. Adrenaline Study Deprive Patients of Necessary Care According to the Resuscitation Guidelines?
Wed, 27 Aug 2014
Rogue Medic
Article

[2] UK To Experiment on Cardiac Arrest Patients Without Their Consent
8/27/2014 @ 3:55PM
Paul Hsieh – Contributor
Forbes
Article

.

If We Pretend that Anecdotes are Not Anecdotes, Do We Change Reality?

 

The following comment was written by Duke Powell in response to Where is the Evidence for Traction Splints?
 

I’ve been an urban paramedic for 34 years and, prior to that, a volunteer EMT for 9 years. For those who can’t add, ….that’s a long time.

How many times have I used a traction splint? …… I dunno, let’s guess 10 times.

 

That works out to an average of over four years between uses of the traction splint. That is plenty of time to have the memory of each use reconstructed many times, so that the memory and the reality may not have much in common. Each time we remember something, we recreate and modify the memory.
 

Several years ago, after several years of not even thinking about traction splinting, I found myself using it 3 times in 2 weeks.

Did it help? Yep, clinically, in my opinion, it helped.

 

Maybe it helped the patients. Maybe it harmed the patients. Maybe it helped some patients and harmed other patients. Maybe it helped the pain, but caused longer term harm. We do not know.

Without valid evidence, especially evidence of something more than the superficial appearance of improvement, we have no idea. We can use our imaginations and generate opinions, but we are merely discussing opinions.
 

Will Rogue Medic call my experience “anecdotal” and not worthy of consideration? Yes, he will.

Don’t care what the Rogue Medic thinks.

I care about what my patients and my Medical Director thinks.

 


Image credit.
 

Does calling an anecdote by a different name make it not an anecdote? It does not matter what you call it. A story is an anecdote. More than one story is just more than one anecdote.

What kind of follow up was there on the patients? What kind of comparison of the other variables was there?

Blood-letting looks like an excellent treatment – if we stick to anecdotes about blood-letting.
 

Physicians observed of old, and continued to observe for many centuries, the following facts concerning blood-letting.

1. It gave relief to pain. . . . .

2. It diminished swelling. . . . .

3. It diminished local redness or congestion. . . . .

4. For a short time after bleeding, either local or general, abnormal heat was sensibly diminished.

5. After bleeding, spasms ceased, . . . .

6. If the blood could be made to run, patients were roused up suddenly from the apparent death of coma. (This was puzzling to those who regarded spasm and paralysis as opposite states; but it showed the catholic applicability of the remedy.)

7. Natural (wrongly termed ” accidental”) hacmorrhages were observed sometimes to end disease. . . . .

8. . . . venesection would cause hamorrhages to cease.[1]

 

How many patients did we kill with blood-letting? Thousands? Tens of thousands? Hundreds of thousands?

The opinions of medical directors have been in favor of many harmful treatments. Do you remember nifedipine?

Anecdotes do not become evidence of good patient care by telling the stories with style. Reality does not work that way, no matter how much we want to change reality. EMS shows us people who are having reality ignore their opinions about how the world should work. If reality is not going to change for a parent who wants their dead child back, how little is reality going to change for a paramedic who wants to put a positive spin on a treatment that he likes?

Reality does not care about our opinions.

Reality does not even care about the opinions of medical directors.

Science is the way we learn the difference between what is real and what is just a pleasing mirage.
 

What do you think science is? There is nothing magical about science. It is simply a systematic way for carefully and thoroughly observing nature and using consistent logic to evaluate results. So which part of that exactly do you disagree with? Do you disagree with being thorough? Using careful observation? Being systematic? Or using consistent logic? – Dr. Steven Novella.

Anecdotes are not thorough observations. Anecdotes do not use consistent logic. Anecdotes do not have anything to do with systematic evaluation.

Footnotes:

[1] Blood-Letting
Br Med J.
1871 March 18; 1(533): 283–291.
PMCID: PMC2260507

.

Where is the Evidence for Traction Splints?

 

We eliminated tourniquets from ambulances because of anecdotes and some strong opinions, but not because of valid research. Valid research shows that tourniquets work. Tourniquets are back.

We added traction splints because of anecdotes and some strong opinions, but not because of any valid research. Will research result in the same reversal of opinion-based practice.

With so little evidence, devices that are frequently misused, and no apparent need for these Rube Goldberg devices, should we continue to use traction splints?
 


Image credit.
 

Does a traction splint work?

That depends on what we mean by the word work. If work means that it pulls on the leg, then it does work, but if work means that it improves outcomes, then the traction splint is about as effective as eye of newt. Maybe the eye of newt is more effective.

If your have a lot of patients who have no other major injuries, then you may be able to set up a study of traction splints. A ski resort might be a good place for a study. On the other hand, if you are not an isolated femur fracture magnet, then your patients would probably be much better off if you focused on pain management, rather than pulling on their broken bones.
 

The fact is, there were no definitive studies demonstrating efficacy or decreased morbidity or mortality from prehospital use of traction splints 10 years ago, nor are there any now.3 So our use of traction splints is purely anecdotal.[1]

 

What is an anecdote?

An anecdote is misinformation from a know-it-all who doesn’t know what matters.

Anecdotes are just rumors. We believe some things because we want to believe, not because they are true. If we want to know the truth, we look for unbiased information. Unbiased information is the opposite of anecdotes and rumors.

There I was, standing on the corner, minding my own business, when all of a sudden . . .

He was dying and we gave the special sauce and he got better and ran a marathon last year.

These are examples of anecdotes. Anecdotes are what sells alternative medicine.

Footnotes:

[1] Sacred Cow Slaughterhouse: The Traction Splint
By William E. “Gene” Gandy, JD, LP and Steven “Kelly” Grayson, NREMT-P, CCEMT-P
Jul 31, 2014
EMS World
Article

.

Does a Placebo vs. Adrenaline Study Deprive Patients of Necessary Care According to the Resuscitation Guidelines?


 Some in the media have been critical of the upcoming British study of adrenaline (epinephrine) vs. placebo for cardiac arrest.[1] They assume that the guidelines require that we give adrenaline, but that is not true.

The guidelines only state that adrenaline may be considered.

If you are a dog, pig, or rat in a laboratory and you have had an artificially induced cardiac arrest, then adrenaline will help resuscitate you. If you are a human who has a cardiac arrest for any one of a variety of reasons, then there is not a good reason to give this rat resuscitation drug, which has not been adequately studied in humans.

There probably are some human patients who do benefit from adrenaline in cardiac arrest, but we have no idea which patients those are and there probably are humans who are harmed by adrenaline. The most common cause of cardiac arrest is heart attack, but you were having a heart attack while still alive, is there a worse drug we could give you than adrenaline? Does adrenaline suddenly become sugar and spice and everything nice, just because we cannot feel a pulse? Maybe, but should we assume that?

What if you have lost so much blood that your heart is not able to produce a pulse, even though your heart is beating as hard as it can? Adrenaline is indicated according to the same guidelines. Why? Unreasonable optimism.

Which patients benefit from adrenaline? We don’t know.

Which patients are harmed by adrenaline? We don’t know.

How do we find out? Research, such as the upcoming study of adrenaline (epinephrine).

What do the guidelines say about conducting this research?
 

Given the observed benefit in short-term outcomes, the use of epinephrine or vasopressin may be considered in adult cardiac arrest.

Knowledge Gaps

Placebo-controlled trials to evaluate the use of any vasopressor in adult and pediatric cardiac arrest are needed.[2]

 

Vasopressors are adrenaline, vasopressin, norepinephrine, and phenylephrine. We need evidence to find out if any of them work.

When the 2010 guidelines were written there was an inescapable need for placebo studies.

Has anything changed?

No.

There was a placebo study in 2012 that was aborted by pressure from media and politicians before any useful results could be obtained.[3]
 

There is evidence that adrenaline improves the return of a pulse, but that appears to just produce comatose patients who die in the hospital without waking up, so the initial improvement appears to be very misleading.

We could try real medicine, where we find out what the right treatment is and give the right treatment to the right patient, but that seems to be asking too much for some people.
 

The Media are Just As Bad at Ethics As They are at Science

Footnotes:

[1] The Controversy of Admitting ‘We Do Not Know What Works’
Wed, 13 Aug 2014
Rogue Medic
Article

[2] Part 8: Advanced life support: 2010 International Consensus on Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation and Emergency Cardiovascular Care Science With Treatment Recommendations.
Morrison LJ, Deakin CD, Morley PT, Callaway CW, Kerber RE, Kronick SL, Lavonas EJ, Link MS, Neumar RW, Otto CW, Parr M, Shuster M, Sunde K, Peberdy MA, Tang W, Hoek TL, Böttiger BW, Drajer S, Lim SH, Nolan JP; Advanced Life Support Chapter Collaborators.
Circulation. 2010 Oct 19;122(16 Suppl 2):S345-421. doi: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.110.971051. No abstract available.
PMID: 20956256 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Free Full Text from Circulation.

[3] Effect of adrenaline on survival in out-of-hospital cardiac arrest: A randomised double-blind placebo-controlled trial
Jacobs IG, Finn JC, Jelinek GA, Oxer HF, Thompson PL.
Resuscitation. 2011 Sep;82(9):1138-43. Epub 2011 Jul 2.
PMID: 21745533 [PubMed - in process]

Free Full Text PDF Download of In Press Uncorrected Proof from xa.yming.com
 

This study was designed as a multicentre trial involving five ambulance services in Australia and New Zealand and was accordingly powered to detect clinically important treatment effects. Despite having obtained approvals for the study from Institutional Ethics Committees, Crown Law and Guardianship Boards, the concerns of being involved in a trial in which the unproven “standard of care” was being withheld prevented four of the five ambulance services from participating.

 

In addition adverse press reports questioning the ethics of conducting this trial, which subsequently led to the involvement of politicians, further heightened these concerns. Despite the clearly demonstrated existence of clinical equipoise for adrenaline in cardiac arrest it remained impossible to change the decision not to participate.

 

.

Imagine if Ebola Spread in America

 
What if there were an Ebola epidemic in America?

In the aftermath of the spread of Ebola in America, would we have Congressional hearings like this?
 


 

 

Dr. Oz – My show is about hope.[1]

 

Translation – Hope sells.

You can rape people who are desperate, but as long as you give them hope, it is OK.[2]
 

A traditional healer, practicing naturopathy in Sierra Leone, appears to be the main reason for the spread of Ebola from Guinea into Sierra Leone.
 

“She was claiming to have powers to heal Ebola. Cases from Guinea were crossing into Sierra Leone for treatment,” Mohamed Vandi, the top medical official in the hard-hit district of Kenema, told AFP.[3]

 

It is a mistake to state that Ebola never would have spread, but this was just another alternative medicine practitioner selling hope, fortunately with a much smaller audience than Dr. Oz.
 

“It is a disease that spreads very fast, without regard for academic or economic status, political affiliation, age, ethnic grouping, gender or religion.”[3]

 

Ebola also doesn’t care about hope. Hope helped to spread Ebola.
 

The other end of the alternative medicine market is fear. People preach that there are government conspiracies so evil that the conspirators kill anyone who might expose the conspiracy, but can’t manage to keep Mike Adams[4] from spreading paranoia.

Blame the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) for everything.
 

Alternative medicine and conspiracy theories are all fun and games, until someone spreads a deadly epidemic.

They assume that we are supposed to be healthy, and sell empowerment to be healthy, but blame the victim when the quackery does not work.
 

Based on what is known to date, I do not worry overmuch about the spread of Ebola in the US. Direct contact is not a very efficient way to transmit infections, especially infections that are rapidly fatal.[5]

 

Ebola requires more than good health to prevent transmission, but the people promising hope and trying to scare us away from real doctors do not seem to understand that.

Is it easy to become infected with Ebola?

Only if we do not know what we are doing and do not have appropriate PPE (Personal Protective Equipment). Quacks believe in magic, because they do not understand science.
 

Thirty year of following infection control procedures and I have yet to catch an infection from a patient. I remember at the start of the AIDS epidemic there were those who refused to care for AIDS patients due to worries of catching the disease. It never worried me since I knew the modes of transmission and I did not partake of those behaviors.[5]

 

We should ignore the quacks and listen to people who understand what they are doing, but it is difficult to resist the temptation to believe in magic – Naturopathy, herbalism, homeopathy, Reiki, acupuncture, . . . .

It is also difficult to resist the temptation of an easy explanation. Conspiracy theories provide simple explanations for complex problems. As with the belief in magic, this is not a new problem.

Explanations exist; they have existed for all time; there is always a well-known solution to every human problem — neat, plausible, and wrong. H.L. Mencken.

We continue to enrich those who promote hope. We continue to enrich those who spread fear. We continue to ignore those who try to understand, because understanding requires work, and that is asking too much. We need to ask for evidence, examine the evidence critically, and not fall for things because they appeal to our biases.
 

For a more information from Science-Based Medicine read – Ebola outbreaks: Science versus fear mongering and quackery

Footnotes:

[1] Weight-Loss Product Advertising – Witnesses testified on ways to protect consumers from false and deceptive advertising of weight-loss products.
June 17, 2014
C-SPAN
Page with embedded video.

[2] Dr. Oz Shows How He Lies with Bad Research
Tue, 17 Jun 2014
Rogue Medic
Article

[3] Sierra Leone’s 365 Ebola deaths traced back to traditional healer
AFP | 20 August, 2014 08:26
Times LIVE
Article

[4] Mike Adams is a Dangerous Loon
Steven Novella
July 25, 2014
Neurologica
Article

[5] Yet another plague panic
by Mark Crislip
August 8, 2014
Science-Based Medicine
Article

.

Opponents of EBM Now Have More Evidence to Justify Their Rejection of Evidence


 

Those scientists clearly can’t get it right. They are constantly changing the guidelines to correct their mistakes. Why don’t they just do it right the first time.

Finally, somebody is recognizing that a treatment should only be eliminated when there is clear evidence that it harms patients – and only when we have run out of excuses to ignore the irrefutable evidence.
 

The 2015 American Heart Organization (AHO) Cardiovascular Care Guidelines will introduce three new levels of evidence in addition to the current existing levels of evidence
In addition to the current levels of evidence classes the AHO’s 2015 guidelines will include Class IVa (Anecdotal Evidence), Class V (Provider Opinion) and Class XI (Treatments Not Proven to Not Work)
[1]

 

When I was in paramedic school we were told the rules. Intubation is the most important treatment, because the airway is the most important part of patient care, because Airway begins with A, Breathing begins with B, and Circulation begins with C. A comes before B and B comes before C.

Do you think that is a coincidence? No. There’s a reason for that. We are supposed to treat the airway first – no matter what. A paramedic can only have one thought in his head at a time, so it has to be the one best thought. Airway always comes first. Did you ever try to live without an airway? Well, did you? It just doesn’t happen. The Gold Standard of Airway is intubation, so we have to intubate people or they will be dropping like flies. You don’t hear about people surviving in places where medics don’t intubate. Dead! All of ‘em. Dead! It’s a fact.

This is serious business people. Every second counts, but there are a lot of seconds, so we don’t count seconds. We count minutes. So every minute counts, but only with an Airway. Without an Airway, you are dead, but you are only dead after we race your cadaver to the hospital and a doctor pronounces you dead and mutters something under his breath about us being straight out of the Dark Ages. We do respect the classics. We have to honor our roots. We can’t be eliminating traditional treatments just because they seem to harm patients.
 

AHO includes the following in the new guidelines, section IVa (Anecdotal Evidence): “Many people have seem something work or they know of someone who has seen something work, or perhaps have heard of someone who knows someone that has seem something work. If a treatment has been said to work in the past then it stands to reason that it will work again. The AHA now accepts anecdotal evidence as equivalent to and just as valid as a Class I intervention provided that the evidence is no more than 4 degrees of separation from the person.”[1]

 

They shouldn’t have left out treatments based on animal research. We have to include everything. It doesn’t matter that people do not do as well with these treatments as animals do. Don’t you love dogs and cats, or are you some kind of monster? If a treatment can bring a dog back to life then that is good enough for grandpa. If cancer can be cured in animals, but we don’t give the treatments to people we are killing people. It is a Big Pharma conspiracy to find cures and then hide them from everyone, because that is why these scientists do all of this research – so they can have the cures for themselves and watch us die. If it works in animals, there is no reason to not use it in people.

All of this research is just too expensive.

We need to just use what we know works.
 

Go read the full article.

Footnotes:

[1] Heart Organization Endorses New Level of Evidence Guildlines
Call The Cops
Posted by: RJ Beam
8/20/2014
Article

.

Dextrose 10% in the Treatment of Out-of-Hospital Hypoglycemia

ResearchBlogging.org
 

Is 50% dextrose as good as 10% dextrose for treating symptomatic hypoglycemia?

If the patient is disoriented, but becomes oriented before the full dose of dextrose is given, is it appropriate to continue to treat the patient as if the patient were still disoriented? If your protocols require you to keep giving dextrose, do the same protocols require you to keep giving opioids after the pain is relieved? Is there really any difference?

50% dextrose has problems.
 

Animal models have demonstrated the toxic effect of glucose infusions in the settings of cardiac arrest and stroke.2 Experimental data suggests that hyperglycemia is neurotoxic to patients in the setting of acute illness.1,3 [1]

 

Furthermore, extravasation can cause necrosis.
 


Image credit.[2]
 

I expect juries to look at this kind of image and say, Somebody has to take one for the 50% dextrose team. We can’t expect EMS to change.

Is 10% dextrose practical?
 

Won’t giving less concentrated dextrose delay treatment?
 

The median initial field blood glucose was 38 mg/dL (IQR = 28 mg/dL – 47 mg/dL), with subsequent blood glucose median of 98 mg/dL (IQR = 70 mg/dL – 135 mg/dL). Elapsed time after D10 administration before recheck was not uniform, with a median time to recheck of eight minutes (IQR = 5 minutes – 12 minutes).[1]

 

If that is going to slow your system down, is it because you are transporting patients before they wake up?

Did anyone require more than 10 grams of 10% dextrose, as opposed to 25 grams of 50% dextrose?
 

Of 164 patients, 29 (18%) received an additional dose of intravenous D10 solution in the field due to persistent or recurrent hypoglycemia, and one patient required a third dose.[1]

 

18% received a second dose, which is 20 grams of dextrose and still less than the total dose of 25 grams of dextrose given according to EMS protocols that still use 50% dextrose.

Only one patient, out of 164 patients, required a third dose. That is 30 grams of dextrose.

Only one patient, out of 164 patients, received as much as we would give according to the typical EMS protocol, which should be a thing of the past. If we are routinely giving too much to our patients, is that a good thing? Why?
 

Maybe the blood sugars were not that low to begin with.
 


 

The average was 38 mg/dL, which is not high.
 

Maybe the change in blood sugar was small after just 10 grams of dextrose, rather than 25 grams.
 


 

The average (mean) change was 67 mg/dL, which is enough to get a patient with a blood sugar of 3 up to 70.
 

Maybe the blood sugar was not high enough after just 10 grams of dextrose, rather than 25 grams.
 


 

The average (mean) repeat blood sugar was 106 mg/dL, which is more than enough.
 

Maybe it took a long time to treat patients this way.
 


 

The average (mean) time was 9 minutes, which is not a lot of time.
 

Is this perfect?
 

Three patients had a drop in blood glucose after D10 administration: one patient had a drop of 1 mg/dL; one patient had a drop of 10 mg/dL; and one patient had a drop of 19 mg/dL.[1]

 

All patients, even the three with initial drops in blood sugar (one had an insulin pump still pumping while being treated) had normal blood sugars at the end of EMS contact.

10% dextrose is cheaper, just as fast, probably less likely to cause hyperglycemia, probably less likely to cause rebound hypoglycemia, probably less likely to cause problems with extravasation, less of a problem with drug shortages, . . . .

Why are we still resisting switching to 10% dextrose?
 

Other articles on 10% dextrose.

Footnotes:

[1] Dextrose 10% in the treatment of out-of-hospital hypoglycemia.
Kiefer MV, Gene Hern H, Alter HJ, Barger JB.
Prehosp Disaster Med. 2014 Apr;29(2):190-4. doi: 10.1017/S1049023X14000284. Epub 2014 Apr 15.
PMID: 24735872 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

[2] Images in emergency medicine. Dextrose extravasation causing skin necrosis.
Levy SB, Rosh AJ.
Ann Emerg Med. 2006 Sep;48(3):236, 239. Epub 2006 Feb 17. No abstract available.
PMID: 16934641 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Kiefer MV, Gene Hern H, Alter HJ, & Barger JB (2014). Dextrose 10% in the treatment of out-of-hospital hypoglycemia. Prehospital and disaster medicine, 29 (2), 190-4 PMID: 24735872

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