Without evidence of benefit, an intervention should not be presumed to be beneficial or safe.

- Rogue Medic

Variation in Survival After Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest Between Emergency Medical Services Agencies – Part I

 

This is a look at the data from the paper I wrote about in Are We Killing Patients With Parochialism?

What differences can we see among the EMS agencies being studied?
 


 

The best half of EMS agencies are producing twice as many good outcomes as the worse half of EMS agencies.[1]

Most of us are bad at resuscitation and those of us treating the most cardiac arrests are doing the least good.

Why do so many of us refuse to improve our standards?

What is so much more important than patient outcomes?
 

Let’s start with Figure 2 C How is survival to the emergency department distributed among EMS agencies?
 


 

ROSC to the ED (Emergency Department) looks great. The results are skewed to the right, which is what we want to see in outcomes. Unfortunately, this is not an outcome that is important. Yes, you do need to have ROSC (Return Of Spontaneous Circulation) to survive, but it is important that we not cause irreversible harm in order to get very reversible ROSC.

How reversible is ROSC?
 


 

Those distributions are similar, although they are decreased by more than half. If leaving the hospital with a pulse were the outcome that mattered, it might not be so bad.

But these are not on the same scale. The ROSC to the ED figure continues to 46%, with a greater than symbol to indicate that some will do better, while the survival to discharge figure stops at 20%, with the same greater than symbol to indicate that there are some beyond that number. How many beyond the end of the figure? The authors decided that it was not enough to waste space on, because they cut it off there.

Where would the survival to discharge percentages be on the ROSC to the ED figure?
 


 

The arrow on the right is where the 46>% bar from the ROSC to the ED figure.

It is important to put these percentages in perspective, which means looking at the differences in the numbers at the bottom.

Now we need to look at the percentage surviving with enough brain function to be able to take care of themselves – those probably not going to a nursing home. This is the group everyone wants to be in. Figure 2 B.
 


 

The percentages of patients able to care from themselves looks a lot different from the previous figures. The results are skewed to the left, which is not what we want to see. Skewed to the left means that the outcomes are mostly on the lower end of the scale – the bad end.

The percentages on the bottom of the figure have not been changed (from those used for survival to discharge), but the results have worsened (been skewed to the left).
 


 

Compared with the first image, this is a very different outcome. We should admit that ROSC to the ED and survival with the ability to take care of ourselves are very poorly correlated.

We need to stop focusing on the harmful distraction that is ROSC.

Most people consider healthy brain function to be important. There are people who insist that we give too much attention to the chemistry of brain function, as if changing a person’s brain does not change a person’s behavior. When our brain chemistry changes, we change. Similarly, when our brains are damaged, as often happens during resuscitation, the part of us that makes us the people that we are is damaged. We do not think with our hearts, nor with our guts, no matter what metaphors some of us like to use.

We are not good at resuscitating the part of the patient that matters the most to the patient.

We are not good at producing the outcome that matters the most to the patient.

We appear to be best at focusing on what matters the least.
 

If we could get the half of the EMS agencies that are not effective at producing survival with good neurological function to improve their patient care, that would result in a big increase in outcomes that matter to patients.
 

It is important that we not cause irreversible harm in order to get very reversible ROSC.
 

Also to be posted on ResearchBlogging.org when they relaunch the site.

In Part II I will look at the potentially significant differences between EMS agencies with good outcomes and EMS agencies with bad outcomes.

Footnotes:

[1] Variation in Survival After Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest Between Emergency Medical Services Agencies.
Okubo M, Schmicker RH, Wallace DJ, Idris AH, Nichol G, Austin MA, Grunau B, Wittwer LK, Richmond N, Morrison LJ, Kurz MC, Cheskes S, Kudenchuk PJ, Zive DM, Aufderheide TP, Wang HE, Herren H, Vaillancourt C, Davis DP, Vilke GM, Scheuermeyer FX, Weisfeldt ML, Elmer J, Colella R, Callaway CW; Resuscitation Outcomes Consortium Investigators.
JAMA Cardiol. 2018 Sep 26. doi: 10.1001/jamacardio.2018.3037. [Epub ahead of print]
PMID: 30267053

Free Full Text from JAMA Cardiology

.

Are We Killing Patients With Parochialism?

 
The variation in approaches to resuscitation in EMS is tremendous.

Many excuses center around the need for local people to be able to claim that they know something that the evidence does not show, although they consistently fail to provide valid evidence for these claims. This local knowledge appears to be intuitive – they just know it, but cannot provide anything to support their feelings.

The latest research can be interpreted in many different ways, but it definitely does not support the claims of the advocates of parochialism.
 

Results We identified 43 656 patients with OHCA treated by 112 EMS agencies. At EMS agency level, we observed large variations in survival to hospital discharge (range, 0%-28.9%; unadjusted MOR, 1.43 [95% CI, 1.34-1.54]), return of spontaneous circulation on emergency department arrival (range, 9.0%-57.1%; unadjusted MOR, 1.53 [95% CI, 1.43-1.65]), and favorable functional outcome (range, 0%-20.4%; unadjusted MOR, 1.54 [95% CI, 1.40-1.73]).[1]

 

MOR = Median Odds Ratio – how many times more likely is something to happen.

What is most commonly measured is what matters the least – ROSC (Return Of Spontaneous Circulation). Did we get a pulse back, for even the briefest period of time, regardless of outcomes that matter.

What matters? Does the person wake up and have the ability to function as they did before the cardiac arrest.

Those who justify focusing on ROSC claim that, If we don’t get a pulse back, nothing else matters, but that is the kind of excuse used by frauds. How we get a pulse back does matter. The evidence makes that conclusion irrefutable, but there will always be those who do not accept that they are causing harm. They will make excuses for the harm they are causing. Getting ROSC helps them to feel that they are not causing harm. ROSC encourages us to give drugs like epinephrine, which have been demonstrated to not improve any survival that matters.

The means of obtaining ROSC can be compared to the means of doing anything that requires finesse. Sure, it feels good to try to force something. Sure, you can claim that forcing something is the most direct way to accomplish the goal.

Can the advocates of focusing on ROSC produce any valid evidence that their approach leads to improvements in outcomes that matter? No. The evidence contradicts their claims. The evidence has caused us to eliminate many of their treatments – treatments they claimed had to work because of physiology. As it turns out, they were wrong. They were wrong about their treatments and wrong about their understanding of physiology.

If you want to win money, bet that any new treatment will not improve outcomes that matter.
 

This variation persisted despite adjustment for patient-level and EMS agency–level factors known to be associated with outcomes (adjusted MOR for survival 1.56 [95% CI 1.44-1.73]; adjusted MOR for return of spontaneous circulation at emergency department arrival, 1.50 [95% CI, 1.41-1.62]; adjusted MOR for functionally favorable survival, 1.53 [95% CI, 1.37-1.78]).[1]

 

Is presence of a pulse upon arrival at the emergency department an important outcome? Only for billing purposes. The presence of a pulse justifies providing more, and more expensive, treatments. Is the presence of a pulse upon arrival at the emergency department a goal worth trying for? As with ROSC, only if it does not cause us to harm patients to obtain this goal, which is just something that is documented, because it is a point of transfer of patient care.
 

After restricting analysis to those who survived more than 60 minutes after hospital arrival and including hospital treatment characteristics, the variation persisted (adjusted MOR for survival, 1.49 [95% CI, 1.36-1.69]; adjusted MOR for functionally favorable survival, 1.34 [95% CI, 1.20-1.59]).[1]

 

There is a lot of variability.

What did they find?
 


 

Most of the people in EMS, who claim to be doing what is best for their patients, are making things worse.
 

69% means that there are two EMS agencies producing bad outcomes for every EMS agency producing good outcomes.

Correction – The text crossed out is not accurate. I should have thought that through a bit better before I posted it. My caption for Table 1 is accurate. However, what I should have written afterward is –

The worse half of EMS agencies are only producing half as many good outcomes as the better half of EMS agencies.

We are bad at resuscitation and those doing the most resuscitating are doing the least good.

Why do so many of us refuse to improve our standards?

What is more important than the outcomes for our patients?
 

Why are we so overwhelmingly bad at resuscitation?
 

What are the authors’ conclusions?
 

This study has implications for improvement of OHCA management. First, the analysis indicates that the highest-performing EMS agencies had more layperson interventions and more EMS personnel on scene.[1]

 

They do not conclude that we need more doctors, more nurses, or more paramedics responding to cardiac arrest.
 

Second, our findings justify further efforts to identify potentially modifiable factors that may explain this residual variation in outcomes and could be targets of public health interventions.[1]

 

We need to figure out what we are doing, because the people telling us that they know that we need intubation are lying.

We need to figure out what we are doing, because the people telling us that they know that we need epinephrine are lying.

We need to figure out what we are doing, because the people telling us that they know that we need amiodarone are lying.

We need to figure out what we are doing, because the people telling us that they know that we need ________ are lying.

How dare I call them liars?

Let them produce valid evidence that the interventions they claim are necessary actually do improve outcomes that matter.

Have them stop making excuses and start producing results.

I dare them.

The only time we have made significant improvements in outcomes have been when we emphasized chest compressions, especially bystander chest compressions, and when we emphasized bystander defibrillation.

It is time to start requiring evidence of benefit for everything we do to patients.

Our patients are too important to be subjected to witchcraft, based on opinions and an absence of research.

There is plenty of valid evidence that using only chest compressions improves outcomes.
 

Cardiocerebral resuscitation improves survival of patients with out-of-hospital cardiac arrest.
Kellum MJ, Kennedy KW, Ewy GA.
Am J Med. 2006 Apr;119(4):335-40.
PMID: 16564776 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

Cardiocerebral resuscitation improves neurologically intact survival of patients with out-of-hospital cardiac arrest.
Kellum MJ, Kennedy KW, Barney R, Keilhauer FA, Bellino M, Zuercher M, Ewy GA.
Ann Emerg Med. 2008 Sep;52(3):244-52. Epub 2008 Mar 28.
PMID: 18374452 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

Minimally interrupted cardiac resuscitation by emergency medical services for out-of-hospital cardiac arrest.
Bobrow BJ, Clark LL, Ewy GA, Chikani V, Sanders AB, Berg RA, Richman PB, Kern KB.
JAMA. 2008 Mar 12;299(10):1158-65.
PMID: 18334691 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

Free Full Text at JAMA

Passive oxygen insufflation is superior to bag-valve-mask ventilation for witnessed ventricular fibrillation out-of-hospital cardiac arrest.
Bobrow BJ, Ewy GA, Clark L, Chikani V, Berg RA, Sanders AB, Vadeboncoeur TF, Hilwig RW, Kern KB.
Ann Emerg Med. 2009 Nov;54(5):656-662.e1. Epub 2009 Aug 6.
PMID: 19660833 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

And more.

 

It is not ethical to insist on giving treatments to patients in the absence of valid evidence of benefit to the patient. We need to begin to improve our ethics.
 

Also to be posted on ResearchBlogging.org when they relaunch the site.

Footnotes:

[1] Variation in Survival After Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest Between Emergency Medical Services Agencies.
Okubo M, Schmicker RH, Wallace DJ, Idris AH, Nichol G, Austin MA, Grunau B, Wittwer LK, Richmond N, Morrison LJ, Kurz MC, Cheskes S, Kudenchuk PJ, Zive DM, Aufderheide TP, Wang HE, Herren H, Vaillancourt C, Davis DP, Vilke GM, Scheuermeyer FX, Weisfeldt ML, Elmer J, Colella R, Callaway CW; Resuscitation Outcomes Consortium Investigators.
JAMA Cardiol. 2018 Sep 26. doi: 10.1001/jamacardio.2018.3037. [Epub ahead of print]
PMID: 30267053

Free Full Text from JAMA Cardiology

.

Why are we still intubating, when there is no evidence of benefit and we refuse to practice this “skill”?

 
Also to be posted on ResearchBlogging.org when they relaunch the site.

The results are in from two studies comparing intubation with laryngeal airways. There continues to be no good reason to intubate cardiac arrest patients. There is no apparent benefit and the focus on this rarely used, and almost never practiced, procedure seems to be more for the feelings of the people providing treatment, than for the patients.
 

Patients with a short duration of cardiac arrest and who receive bystander resuscitation, defibrillation, or both, are considerably more likely to survive and are also less likely to require advanced airway management.22 This problem of confounding by indication is an important limitation of many large observational studies that show an association between advanced airway management and poor outcome in out-of-hospital cardiac arrest.23 This study found that 21.1% (360/1704) of patients who did not receive advanced airway management achieved a good outcome compared with 3.3% (251/7576) of patients who received advanced airway management.[1]

 

In other words, we are the least skilled, are the least experienced, and we have the least amount of practice, but we are attempting to perform a difficult airway skill under the least favorable conditions. Ironically, we claim to be doing what is best for the patient. We are corrupt, incompetent, or both.

We also do not have good evidence that any kind of active ventilation is indicated for cardiac arrest, unless the cardiac arrest is due to respiratory conditions. Passive ventilation, which is the result of high quality chest compressions, appears to produce better outcomes (several studies are listed at the end).

We need to stop considering our harmful interventions to be the standard and withholding harmful treatments to be the intervention. We are using interventions that have well known and serious adverse effects. This attempt to defend the status quo, at the expense of honesty, has not been beneficial to patients.
 

The ETI success rate of 51% observed in this trial is lower than the 90% success rate reported in a meta-analysis.29 The reasons for this discordance are unclear. Prior reports of higher success rates may be susceptible to publication bias.[2]

 

Is that intubation success rate lower than you claim for your organization? Prove it.
 

Another possibility is that some medical directors encourage early rescue SGA use to avoid multiple unsuccessful intubation attempts and to minimize chest compression interruptions.5 Few of the study EMS agencies had protocols limiting the number of allowed intubation attempts, so the ETI success rate was not the result of practice constraints.[2]

 

Is there any reason to interrupt chest compressions, which do improve outcomes that matter, to make it easier to intubate, which does not improve any outcomes that matter? No.
 

While the ETI proficiency of study clinicians might be questioned, the trial included a diverse range of EMS agencies and likely reflects current practice.[2]

 

This is the state of the art of intubation in the real world of American EMS. Making excuses shows that we are corrupt, incompetent, or both.
 


I no longer have the link, but I think that this image came from Rescue Digest a decade ago.
 

These results contrast with prior studies of OHCA airway management. Observational studies have reported higher survival with ETI than SGA, but they were nonrandomized, included a range of SGA types, and did not adjust for the timing of the airway intervention.9,10,31-34 [2]

 

We should start doing what is best for our patients.

We should not continue to defend resuscitation theater – putting on a harmful show to make ourselves feel good.

What would a competent anesthesiologist use in the prehospital setting? Something that offers a benefit to the patient.

There is also an editorial analyzing these two studies.[3]

It is time to start requiring evidence of benefit for everything we do to patients.

Our patients are too important to be subjected to witchcraft, based on opinions and an absence of research.

There is plenty of valid evidence that using only chest compressions improves outcomes.
 

Cardiocerebral resuscitation improves survival of patients with out-of-hospital cardiac arrest.
Kellum MJ, Kennedy KW, Ewy GA.
Am J Med. 2006 Apr;119(4):335-40.
PMID: 16564776 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

Cardiocerebral resuscitation improves neurologically intact survival of patients with out-of-hospital cardiac arrest.
Kellum MJ, Kennedy KW, Barney R, Keilhauer FA, Bellino M, Zuercher M, Ewy GA.
Ann Emerg Med. 2008 Sep;52(3):244-52. Epub 2008 Mar 28.
PMID: 18374452 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

Minimally interrupted cardiac resuscitation by emergency medical services for out-of-hospital cardiac arrest.
Bobrow BJ, Clark LL, Ewy GA, Chikani V, Sanders AB, Berg RA, Richman PB, Kern KB.
JAMA. 2008 Mar 12;299(10):1158-65.
PMID: 18334691 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

Free Full Text at JAMA

Passive oxygen insufflation is superior to bag-valve-mask ventilation for witnessed ventricular fibrillation out-of-hospital cardiac arrest.
Bobrow BJ, Ewy GA, Clark L, Chikani V, Berg RA, Sanders AB, Vadeboncoeur TF, Hilwig RW, Kern KB.
Ann Emerg Med. 2009 Nov;54(5):656-662.e1. Epub 2009 Aug 6.
PMID: 19660833 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

And more.

 

It is not ethical to insist on giving treatments to patients in the absence of valid evidence of benefit to the patient. We need to begin to improve our ethics.

Also read/listen to these articles/podcasts released after I published this (I do not know the date of the Resus Room podcast) –

The Great Prehospital Airway Debate
August 31, 2018
Emergency Medicine Literature of Note
by Ryan Radecki
Article
 

EM Nerd-The Case of the Needless Imperative
August 31, 2018
EMNerd (EMCrit)
by Rory Spiegel
Article
 

Intubation or supraglottic airway in cardiac arrest; AIRWAYS-2
The Resus Room
Podcast with Simon Laing, Rob Fenwick, and James Yates with guest Professor Jonathan Benger, lead author of AIRWAYS-2.
Podcast, images, and notes
 

Footnotes:

[1] Effect of a Strategy of a Supraglottic Airway Device vs Tracheal Intubation During Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest on Functional Outcome: The AIRWAYS-2 Randomized Clinical Trial
Jonathan R. Benger, MD1; Kim Kirby, MRes1,2; Sarah Black, DClinRes2; et al Stephen J. Brett, MD3; Madeleine Clout, BSc4; Michelle J. Lazaroo, MSc4; Jerry P. Nolan, MBChB5,6; Barnaby C. Reeves, DPhil4; Maria Robinson, MOst2; Lauren J. Scott, MSc4,7; Helena Smartt, PhD4; Adrian South, BSc (Hons)2; Elizabeth A. Stokes, DPhil8; Jodi Taylor, PhD4,5; Matthew Thomas, MBChB9; Sarah Voss, PhD1; Sarah Wordsworth, PhD8; Chris A. Rogers, PhD4
August 28, 2018
JAMA. 2018;320(8):779-791.
doi:10.1001/jama.2018.11597

Abstract from JAMA.

[2] Effect of a Strategy of Initial Laryngeal Tube Insertion vs Endotracheal Intubation on 72-Hour Survival in Adults With Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest: A Randomized Clinical Trial
Henry E. Wang, MD, MS1,2; Robert H. Schmicker, MS3; Mohamud R. Daya, MD, MS4; et al Shannon W. Stephens, EMT-P2; Ahamed H. Idris, MD5; Jestin N. Carlson, MD, MS6,7; M. Riccardo Colella, DO, MPH8; Heather Herren, MPH, RN3; Matthew Hansen, MD, MCR4; Neal J. Richmond, MD9,10; Juan Carlos J. Puyana, BA7; Tom P. Aufderheide, MD, MS8; Randal E. Gray, MEd, NREMT-P2; Pamela C. Gray, NREMT-P2; Mike Verkest, AAS, EMT-P11; Pamela C. Owens5; Ashley M. Brienza, BS7; Kenneth J. Sternig, MS-EHS, BSN, NRP12; Susanne J. May, PhD3; George R. Sopko, MD, MPH13; Myron L. Weisfeldt, MD14; Graham Nichol, MD, MPH15
August 28, 2018
JAMA. 2018;320(8):769-778.
doi:10.1001/jama.2018.7044

Free Full Text from JAMA.

[3] Pragmatic Airway Management in Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest
Lars W. Andersen, MD, MPH, PhD1; Asger Granfeldt, MD, PhD, DMSc2
August 28, 2018
JAMA. 2018;320(8):761-763. doi:10.1001/jama.2018.10824

Abstract from JAMA.

.

How Bad is Epinephrine (Adrenaline) for Cardiac Arrest, According to the PARAMEDIC2 Study?

 
Also to be posted on ResearchBlogging.org when they relaunch the site.

Do we have to stop using epinephrine (adrenaline in Commonwealth countries) for cardiac arrest?
 


 

PARAMEDIC2 (Prehospital Assessment of the Role of Adrenaline: Measuring the Effectiveness of Drug Administration in Cardiac Arrest) compared adrenaline (epinephrine) with placebo in a “randomized, double-blind trial involving 8014 patients with out-of-hospital cardiac arrest”.[1]

The results showed that 1 mg of epinephrine every 3 – 5 minutes is even worse than I expected, but a lot of the more literate doctors have not been using epinephrine that way. What does this research tell us about their various methods? The podcast REBEL Cast (Rational Evidence Based Evaluation of Literature in Emergency Medicine) has a discussion of this question in REBEL Cast Ep56 – PARAMEDIC-2: Time to Abandon Epinephrine in OHCA?.[2]

The current ACLS/ILCOR (Advanced Cardiac Life Support/International Liaison Committee on Resuscitation) advice on epinephrine does not state that epinephrine is a good idea, or even require that you give epinephrine to follow their protocol –
 

The major changes in the 2015 ACLS guidelines include recommendations about prognostication during CPR based on exhaled CO2 measurements, timing of epinephrine administration stratified by shockable or nonshockable rhythms, and the possibility of bundling treatment of steroids, vasopressin, and epinephrine for treatment of in-hospital arrests. In addition, the administration of vasopressin as the sole vasoactive drug during CPR has been removed from the algorithm.[3]

 

What was the ACLS/ILCOR advice in the 2010 guidelines?
 

The 2010 Guidelines stated that it is reasonable to consider administering a 1-mg dose of IV/IO epinephrine every 3 to 5 minutes during adult cardiac arrest.[4]

 

This is in a paragraph that links to the PICO (Population-Intervention-Comparator-Outcomes) question that has been an open question for over half a century – In cardiac arrest, is giving epinephrine better than not giving epinephrine?[5]

They only considered it reasonable, based on low quality evidence.

What was the ACLS/ILCOR advice in the 2015 guidelines?
 

Standard-dose epinephrine (1 mg every 3 to 5 minutes) may be reasonable for patients in cardiac arrest (Class IIb, LOE B-R).[6]

 

Again, ACLS/ILCOR only considered a dose of epinephrine to be reasonable. Again, this was based on low quality evidence. I am not criticizing the efforts of those who worked on the Jacobs study of adrenaline vs. placebo, because they were stopped by the willfully ignorant opponents of science.[7]

What about the method of attempting to titrate an infusion to the hemodynamic response, which Dr. Swaminathan and Dr. Rezaie alluded to?

There is a lot of anecdotal enthusiasm from doctors who use this method, but I do not know of any research that has been published comparing outcomes using this method with anything else. How do we know that the positive reports from doctors are anything other than confirmation bias? We don’t.

This year is the 200th anniversary of the publication of the very first horror novel – Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus. The doctor in the novel used electricity to raise the dead (and the subjects were very dead). There were no chest compressions in the novel, but it is interesting that we have barely made progress from the fiction imagined by an 18 year old with no medical training, although she did have the opportunity to listen to many of the smartest people in England discuss science. Mary Godwin (later Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley by marriage) was 16 when she started writing the novel.[8]

We have barely made more progress at resuscitation than a teenager did 200 years ago in a novel. Most of our progress has been in finally admitting that the treatments we have been using have been producing more harm than benefit. Many of us are not even that honest about the harm we continue to cause.

We dramatically improved resuscitation in one giant leap – when we focused on high quality chest compressions and ignoring the medical theater of advanced life support.

There are two treatments that work during cardiac arrest – high quality chest compressions and rapid defibrillation.

Why haven’t we made more progress?

We have been too busty making excuses for remaining ignorant.

We need to stop being so proud of our ignorance.

We now know that amiodarone doesn’t work for cardiac arrest (and is more dangerous than beneficial for ventricular tachycardia – even adenosine appears to be better for VTach), atropine doesn’t work for cardiac arrest, calcium chloride doesn’t work for cardiac arrest (unless it is due to hyperkalemia/rhabdomyolysis), vasopressin doesn’t work for cardiac arrest, high dose epinephrine doesn’t work for cardiac arrest, standard dose epinephrine doesn’t work for cardiac arrest – in other words, we have tried all sorts of drugs, based on hunches and the weakest of evidence, but we still haven’t learned that there isn’t a magic resuscitation drug.

Should anyone be using any epinephrine to treat cardiac arrest outside of a well controlled study?

No.

Also –

A Randomized Trial of Epinephrine in Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest – Part I

Footnotes:

[1] A Randomized Trial of Epinephrine in Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest.
Perkins GD, Ji C, Deakin CD, Quinn T, Nolan JP, Scomparin C, Regan S, Long J, Slowther A, Pocock H, Black JJM, Moore F, Fothergill RT, Rees N, O’Shea L, Docherty M, Gunson I, Han K, Charlton K, Finn J, Petrou S, Stallard N, Gates S, Lall R; PARAMEDIC2 Collaborators.
N Engl J Med. 2018 Jul 18. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa1806842. [Epub ahead of print]
PMID: 30021076

Free Full Text from NEJM

All supplementary material is also available at the end of the article at the NEJM site in PDF format –

Protocol

Supplementary Appendix

Disclosure Forms

There is also an editorial, which I have not yet read, by Clifton W. Callaway, M.D., Ph.D., and Michael W. Donnino, M.D. –

Testing Epinephrine for Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest.
Callaway CW, Donnino MW.
N Engl J Med. 2018 Jul 18. doi: 10.1056/NEJMe1808255. [Epub ahead of print] No abstract available.
PMID: 30021078

Free Full Text from NEJM

[2] REBEL Cast Ep56 – PARAMEDIC-2: Time to Abandon Epinephrine in OHCA?
Anand Swaminathan, MD and Salim Rezaie, MD, FACEP
July 20, 2018
Episode 56 and show notes

[3] Introduction
Part 7: Adult Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support
2015 American Heart Association Guidelines Update for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation and Emergency Cardiovascular Care
Mark S. Link, Lauren C. Berkow, Peter J. Kudenchuk, Henry R. Halperin, Erik P. Hess, Vivek K. Moitra, Robert W. Neumar, Brian J. O’Neil, James H. Paxton, Scott M. Silvers, Roger D. White, Demetris Yannopoulos, Michael W. Donnino
Circulation. 2015;132:S444-S464, originally published October 14, 2015
https://doi.org/10.1161/CIR.0000000000000261
Introduction – scroll down to the last paragraph

[4] Vasopressors in Cardiac Arrest: Standard-Dose Epinephrine
Part 7: Adult Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support
2015 American Heart Association Guidelines Update for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation and Emergency Cardiovascular Care
Mark S. Link, Lauren C. Berkow, Peter J. Kudenchuk, Henry R. Halperin, Erik P. Hess, Vivek K. Moitra, Robert W. Neumar, Brian J. O’Neil, James H. Paxton, Scott M. Silvers, Roger D. White, Demetris Yannopoulos, Michael W. Donnino
Circulation. 2015;132:S444-S464, originally published October 14, 2015
https://doi.org/10.1161/CIR.0000000000000261
2010 epinephrine advice

[5] Epinephrine Versus Placebo
ILCOR Scientific Evidence Evaluation and Review
Epinephrine Versus Placebo

 

Among adults who are in cardiac arrest in any setting (P), does does the use of epinephrine (I), compared with compared with placebo or not using epinephrine (C), change Survival with Favorable neurological/functional outcome at discharge, 30 days, 60 days, 180 days AND/OR 1 year, Survival only at discharge, 30 days, 60 days, 180 days AND/OR 1 year, ROSC (O)?

 

[6] 2015 Recommendation—Updated
Part 7: Adult Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support
2015 American Heart Association Guidelines Update for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation and Emergency Cardiovascular Care
Mark S. Link, Lauren C. Berkow, Peter J. Kudenchuk, Henry R. Halperin, Erik P. Hess, Vivek K. Moitra, Robert W. Neumar, Brian J. O’Neil, James H. Paxton, Scott M. Silvers, Roger D. White, Demetris Yannopoulos, Michael W. Donnino
Circulation. 2015;132:S444-S464, originally published October 14, 2015
https://doi.org/10.1161/CIR.0000000000000261
2015 Recommendation—Updated

[7] 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 from reanimacion.net
 

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.

 

[8] Frankenstein
Wikipedia
Article

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A Randomized Trial of Epinephrine in Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest – Part I

 
Also to be posted on ResearchBlogging.org when they relaunch the site.

The results are in from the only completed Adrenaline (Epinephrine in non-Commonwealth countries) vs. Placebo for Cardiac Arrest study.
 


 

Even I overestimated the possibility of benefit of epinephrine.

I had hoped that there would be some evidence to help identify patients who might benefit from epinephrine, but that is not the case.

PARAMEDIC2 (Prehospital Assessment of the Role of Adrenaline: Measuring the Effectiveness of Drug Administration in Cardiac Arrest) compared adrenaline (epinephrine) with placebo in a “randomized, double-blind trial involving 8014 patients with out-of-hospital cardiac arrest”.

More people survived for at least 30 days with epinephrine, which is entirely expected. There has not been any controversy about whether giving epinephrine produces pulses more often than not giving epinephrine. As with amiodarone (Nexterone and Pacerone), the question has been whether we are just filling the ICUs and nursing home beds with comatose patients.
 

There was no statistical evidence of a modification in treatment effect by such factors as the patient’s age, whether the cardiac arrest was witnessed, whether CPR was performed by a bystander, initial cardiac rhythm, or response time or time to trial-agent administration (Fig. S7 in the Supplementary Appendix). [1]

 

The secondary outcome is what everyone has been much more interested in – what are the neurological outcomes with adrenaline vs. without adrenaline?

The best outcome was no detectable neurological impairment.
 

the benefits of epinephrine that were identified in our trial are small, since they would result in 1 extra survivor for every 112 patients treated. This number is less than the minimal clinically important difference that has been defined in previous studies.29,30 Among the survivors, almost twice the number in the epinephrine group as in the placebo group had severe neurologic impairment.

Our work with patients and the public before starting the trial (as summarized in the Supplementary Appendix) identified survival with a favorable neurologic outcome to be a higher priority than survival alone. [1]

 


Click on the image to make it larger.
 

Are there some patients who will do better with epinephrine than without?

Maybe (I would have written probably, before these results), but we still do not know how to identify those patients.

Is titrating tiny amounts of epinephrine, to observe for response, reasonable? What response would we be looking for? Wat do we do if we observe that response? We have been using epinephrine for over half a century and we still don’t know when to use it, how much to use, or how to identify the patients who might benefit.

I will write more about these results later

We now have evidence that, as with amiodarone, we should only be using epinephrine as part of well controlled trials.

Also see –

How Bad is Epinephrine (Adrenaline) for Cardiac Arrest, According to the PARAMEDIC2 Study?

Footnotes:

[1] A Randomized Trial of Epinephrine in Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest.
Perkins GD, Ji C, Deakin CD, Quinn T, Nolan JP, Scomparin C, Regan S, Long J, Slowther A, Pocock H, Black JJM, Moore F, Fothergill RT, Rees N, O’Shea L, Docherty M, Gunson I, Han K, Charlton K, Finn J, Petrou S, Stallard N, Gates S, Lall R; PARAMEDIC2 Collaborators.
N Engl J Med. 2018 Jul 18. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa1806842. [Epub ahead of print]
PMID: 30021076

Free Full Text from NEJM

All supplementary material is also available at the end of the article at the NEJM site in PDF format –

Protocol

Supplementary Appendix

Disclosure Forms

There is also an editorial, which I have not yet read, by Clifton W. Callaway, M.D., Ph.D., and Michael W. Donnino, M.D. –

Testing Epinephrine for Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest.
Callaway CW, Donnino MW.
N Engl J Med. 2018 Jul 18. doi: 10.1056/NEJMe1808255. [Epub ahead of print] No abstract available.
PMID: 30021078

Free Full Text from NEJM

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Cardiac arrest victim Trudy Jones ‘given placebo’ – rather than experimental epinephrine

 

As part of a study to find out if epinephrine (adrenaline in Commonwealth countries) is safe to use in cardiac arrest, a patient was treated with a placebo, rather than the inadequately tested drug. Some people are upset that the patient did not receive the drug they know nothing about.[1]

The critics are trying to make sure that we never learn.

We need to find out how much harm epinephrine causes, rather than make assumptions based on prejudices.

When used in cardiac arrest, does epinephrine produce a pulse more often?

Yes.

When used in cardiac arrest, does epinephrine produce a good outcome more often?

We don’t know.

In over half a century of use in cardiac arrest, we have not bothered to find out.
 


 

We did try to find out one time, but the media and politicians stopped it.[2]

We would rather harm patients with unreasonable hope, than find out how much harm we are causing to patients.

We would rather continue to be part of a huge, uncontrolled, unapproved, undeclared, undocumented, unethical experiment, than find out what works.

Have we given informed consent to that kind of experimentation?

Ignorance is bliss.

The good news is that the enrollment of patients has finished, so the media and politicians will not be able to prevent us from learning the little that we will be able to learn from this research.[3]

Will the results tell us which patients are harmed by epinephrine?

Probably not – that will require a willingness to admit the limits of what we learn and more research.

What EMS treatments have been demonstrated to improve outcomes from cardiac arrest?

1. High quality chest compressions.
2. Defibrillation, when indicated.

Nothing else.

All other treatments, when tested, have failed to be better than nothing (placebo).

Footnotes:

[1] Cardiac arrest victim Trudy Jones ‘given placebo’
BBC News
23 March 2018
Article

[2] 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 from reanimacion.net
 

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.

 

[3] Paramedic2 – The Adrenaline Trial
Warwick Medical School
Trial Updates
 

Trial Update – 19 February 2018:
PARAMEDIC2 has finished recruitment and we are therefore no longer issuing ‘No Study’ bracelets. The data collected from the trial is in the process of being analysed and we expect to publish the results in 2018. Once the results have been published, a summary will be provided on the trial website.

 

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Prehospital cooling to improve successful targeted temperature management after cardiac arrest: A randomized controlled trial

ResearchBlogging.org
 
Also to be posted on ResearchBlogging.org when they relaunch the site.

This is a nice study, which unfortunately ran into problems with enrollment and funding. There are some things that I think should have been done differently.

The doses of chilled IV (IntraVenous) fluid were not weight-based, while the fluid in the human body is weight-based. If midazolam (Versed) was given, the dose was just a single dose of 5 mg, or 2 doses of 5 mg each. The effects of midazolam are much less weight-based, than fluid, but the appropriate way to administer midazolam is to titrate to effect. Even if administering 10 mg of midazolam produces the desired effect in 80%, or 90%, of patients, that can still leave a significant portion inadequately sedated. The goal of TTM (Targeted Temperature Management) may be defeated by the movement of an even mildly agitated patient.

Would another drug, such as ketamine, be more appropriate? How much does use of midazolam affect the use of pressors to counter the vasodilatory effects of midazolam? Unlike other sedatives, ketamine does not seem to produce vasodilation and/or depress cardiac activity. The midazolam was only mentioned in the description of the study interventions and only described as being given to prevent shivering, so the dose may be adequate, but there is only the one mention in the entire paper.

The fluid administration was shown to be different with a p value of <0.0001. The difference is only 170 ml (5 3/4 oz), so it is a distinction described as significant by p value, but it does not appear to be a significant difference in any way that would affect patients. The SD (Standard Deviation - how much variability exists in about 2/3 of patients) is the same as the amount of fluid given to the control group and 2 3/4 times the amount of the difference. In other words, there was a lot of overlap in the volumes administered to the patients in the two groups. While the p value of <0.0001 suggests confidence in the results being due to change only one time in 10,000, that is misleading.  

Total fluid infused was not documented for 98 (35%) patients who received Prehospital Cooling and 121 (40%) control patients.[1]

 


 

The raw data on the volumes is not included, nor is the shape of the graph of distribution of the volumes, but it looks as if 20%, or 30%, of the control group may have received more fluid that the intervention group – and then there are the more than 35% of patients without documentation of fluid volumes.

Since the amount of difference is small, it does not seem to matter, but the intervention group was forcing the chilled fluid into the patients with pressure bags, so why so little difference between the groups?

How long does it take to administer 170 ml of chilled IV fluid by pressure infusion? Does it take longer than it takes to get from the ambulance to the hospital stretcher?

That is just a statistical oddity that is not going to affect outcomes.

The next may be the true the significant finding of the study.
 

Patients in the prehospital cooling group were more likely to (ever) receive TTM in hospital [190 (68%) vs 170 (56%); RR 1.21, p = 0.003] than patients in the control group.[1]

 


 

TTM (Targeted Temperature Management) is the new term for therapeutic hypothermia, which has been shown to be effective.

If not, why not?
 

Across all studies that used conventional cooling methods rather than no cooling (three studies; 383 participants), we found a 30% survival benefit (RR 1.32, 95% CI 1.10 to 1.65). The quality of the evidence was moderate.[2]

 

With no difference in the rhythms of the control group and the intervention group, why the difference in the rate of TTM in the hospital?

Will this be similar to the case of waveform capnography? EMS ended up pressuring many/some EDs to begin to use EtCO2 on all intubated patients. This was a change from the previous, much too common, ED practice of complaining about and pulling at the EtCO2 tubing, because it was an unknown item that was in the way.

EMS should not need to encourage the ED to provide better care, especially about treatments/assessments that originated as in-hospital treatments/assessments. It should be the reverse.

There is an excellent review of TTM research at Life In The Fast Lane.[3]

Footnotes:

[1] Prehospital cooling to improve successful targeted temperature management after cardiac arrest: A randomized controlled trial.
Scales DC, Cheskes S, Verbeek PR, Pinto R, Austin D, Brooks SC, Dainty KN, Goncharenko K, Mamdani M, Thorpe KE, Morrison LJ; Strategies for Post-Arrest Care SPARC Network.
Resuscitation. 2017 Dec;121:187-194. doi: 10.1016/j.resuscitation.2017.10.002. Epub 2017 Oct 5.
PMID: 28988962

Free Full text Article from Resuscitation.

[2] Hypothermia for neuroprotection in adults after cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
Arrich J, Holzer M, Havel C, Müllner M, Herkner H.
Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2016 Feb 15;2:CD004128. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD004128.pub4. Review.
PMID: 26878327

[3] Targeted temperature management (TTM) after cardiac arrest
Life In The Fast Lane
Chris Nickson
Reviewed and revised Aug 1, 2017 @ 7:07 pm
Article

Scales DC, Cheskes S, Verbeek PR, Pinto R, Austin D, Brooks SC, Dainty KN, Goncharenko K, Mamdani M, Thorpe KE, Morrison LJ, & Strategies for Post-Arrest Care SPARC Network (2017). Prehospital cooling to improve successful targeted temperature management after cardiac arrest: A randomized controlled trial Resuscitation, 121 (December), 187-194 : PMID: 28988962

Arrich J, Holzer M, Havel C, Müllner M, & Herkner H (2016). Hypothermia for neuroprotection in adults after cardiopulmonary resuscitation Cochrane Database Syst Rev : PMID: 26878327

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2016 – Amiodarone is Useless, but Ketamine Gets Another Use

amiodarone-edit-1
 

I didn’t write a lot in 2016, but 2016 may have been the year we put the final nail in the coffin of amiodarone. Two major studies were published and both were very negative for amiodarone.

If we give enough amiodarone to have an effect on ventricular tachycardia, it will usually be a negative effect.[1]

Only 38% of ventricular tachycardia patients improved after amiodarone, but 48% had major adverse cardiac events after amiodarone.

There are better drugs, including adenosine, sotalol, procainamide, and ketamine for ventricular tachycardia. Sedation and cardioversion is a much better choice. Cardioversion is actually expected after giving amiodarone.

For cardiac arrest, amiodarone is not any better than placebo or lidocaine. What ever happened to the study of amiodarone that was showing such wonderful results over a decade ago? It still hasn’t been published, so it is reasonable to conclude that the results were negative for amiodarone. It is time to make room in the drug bag for something that works.[2],[3]

On the other hand, now that we have improved the quality of CPR by focusing on compressions, rather than drugs, more patients are waking up while chest compressions are being performed, but without spontaneous circulation, so ketamine has another promising use. And ketamine is still good for sedation for intubation, for getting a patient to tolerate high flow oxygen, for agitated delirium, for pain management, . . . .[4],[5]

Masimo’s RAD 57 still doesn’t have any evidence that it works well on real patients.[6]

When intubating, breathe. Breathing is good. Isn’t inability to breathe the reason for intubation?[7]

Footnotes:

[1] The PROCAMIO Trial – IV Procainamide vs IV Amiodarone for the Acute Treatment of Stable Wide Complex Tachycardia
Wed, 17 Aug 2016
Rogue Medic
Article

[2] Amiodarone, Lidocaine, or Placebo in Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest
Mon, 04 Apr 2016
Rogue Medic
Article

[3] Dr. Kudenchuk is Misrepresenting ALPS as ‘Significant’
Tue, 12 Apr 2016
Rogue Medic
Article

[4] What do you do when a patient wakes up during CPR?
Tue, 08 Mar 2016
Rogue Medic
Article

[5] Ketamine For Anger Management
Sun, 06 Mar 2016
Rogue Medic
Article

[6] The RAD-57 – Still Unsafe?
Wed, 03 Feb 2016
Rogue Medic
Article

[7] Should you hold your breath while intubating?
Tue, 19 Jan 2016
Rogue Medic
Article

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