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

- Rogue Medic

2018 ACLS/PALS/NRP – AHA-ILCOR Guideline questions are being reviewed until 02-21-2017

AHA2015 - 2018
 

In preparation for the 2018 ACLS/PALS/NRP/CPR Guidelines (maybe 2017) the AHA (American Heart Association) and ILCOR (the International Liaison Committee On Resuscitation) are reviewing the questions they ask to examine the evidence, or the lack of evidence, on various interventions addressed by the guidelines for the:
 

First Aid Task Force (Public comment on PICO prioritization has recently closed. PICO categorization public comment period was open from October 10 to 24, 2016)

Advanced Life Support Task Force (Public comment on PICO categorization is NOW OPEN until 12:00 AM CST on February 21st, 2017!)

Basic Life Support Task Force (Public comment on PICO categorization is NOW OPEN until 12:00 AM CST on February 21st, 2017!)

Pediatric Life Support Task Force (Public comment on PICO categorization is NOW OPEN until 12:00 AM CST on February 21st, 2017!)

Education, Implementation and Teams Task Force (Public comment on PICO categorization is NOW OPEN until 12:00 AM CST on February 21st, 2017!)​

Neonatal Life Support Task Force (Public comment on PICO categorization is NOW OPEN until 12:00 AM CST on February 22nd, 2017!)[1]

 

Some questions are obvious and will be continued, such as 428. This is the review of antiarrhythmic drugs for cardiac arrest. Recent research shows no benefit to patients from amiodarone, or lidocaine.[2]

What do the 2015 ACLS Guidelines recommend?
 

Amiodarone may be considered for VF/pVT that is unresponsive to CPR, defibrillation, and a vasopressor therapy (Class IIb, LOE B-R).

Lidocaine may be considered as an alternative to amiodarone for VF/pVT that is unresponsive to CPR, defibrillation, and vasopressor therapy (Class IIb, LOE C-LD).[3]

 

Outside of controlled trials that are large enough to provide useful answers, amiodarone and lidocaine have no place in the treatment of cardiac arrest.
 

Much less obvious is 808, the suggestion that we should ventilate patients in the absence of evidence of benefit from ventilation – at least there is no evidence of benefit for the patient. Hands-only CPR seems to annoy doctors, nurses, paramedics, EMTs, . . . .

Why are we still ventilating adult cardiac arrest patients with cardiac causes of their cardiac arrest in the absence of evidence of safety and in the absence of evidence of benefit?
 

Why is there any question about 788? Results from Paramedic2 should be available next year. Is epinephrine in cardiac arrest better than a placebo?[4]

This is the first time we will have valid evidence to start to decide what to do with a treatment we have been using for over half a century based on the weakest of evidence. Paramedic2 is unlikely to answer many questions, such as which cardiac arrest patients should receive epinephrine and which should not, but it will be a start.
 

Then there is 464Drugs for monomorphic wide complex tachycardia. Considering the recent publication of PROCAMIO and the absence of discussion of tachycardia and bradycardia in the 2015 Guidelines, it is bizarre that this is among the questions recommended for elimination. Since there was no recommendation on treatment of ventricular tachycardia in the 2015 ACLS Guidelines, the recommendation from 2010 continues unchanged.

What did PROCAMIO show? If we give a high enough dose of amiodarone to actually try to treat the arrhythmia, major adverse cardiac events are more common than any benefit.[5]

Are we using amiodarone just to make stable ventricular tachycardia unstable?

Procainamide is safer and more effective.

Cardioversion is safer and more effective.

Adenosine is safer and probably more effective.[6]

Doing nothing is safer and only slightly less effective.

What about blood-letting for stable ventricular tachycardia?

Blood-letting is probably safer and maybe just as effective as amiodarone.[7]

Footnotes:

[1] ILCOR Continuous Evidence Evaluation
AHA (American Heart Association) and ILCOR (the International Liaison Committee On Resuscitation)
ILCOR 2016-2017 PICO categorization and prioritization public comment page

[2] Amiodarone, Lidocaine, or Placebo in Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest.
Kudenchuk PJ, Brown SP, Daya M, Rea T, Nichol G, Morrison LJ, Leroux B, Vaillancourt C, Wittwer L, Callaway CW, Christenson J, Egan D, Ornato JP, Weisfeldt ML, Stiell IG, Idris AH, Aufderheide TP, Dunford JV, Colella MR, Vilke GM, Brienza AM, Desvigne-Nickens P, Gray PC, Gray R, Seals N, Straight R, Dorian P; Resuscitation Outcomes Consortium Investigators..
N Engl J Med. 2016 May 5;374(18):1711-22. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa1514204.
PMID: 27043165

Free Full Text from NEJM

[3] 2015 Recommendations—Updated
Part 7: Adult Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support
2015 American Heart Association Guidelines Update for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation and Emergency Cardiovascular Care
2015 Recommendations—Updated

[4] Paramedic2 – The Adrenaline Trial
Warwick Medical School
About

[5] Randomized comparison of intravenous procainamide vs. intravenous amiodarone for the acute treatment of tolerated wide QRS tachycardia: the PROCAMIO study.
Ortiz M, Martín A, Arribas F, Coll-Vinent B, Del Arco C, Peinado R, Almendral J; PROCAMIO Study Investigators.
Eur Heart J. 2016 Jun 28. pii: ehw230. [Epub ahead of print]
PMID: 27354046
 

The primary outcome, major adverse cardiac events within 40 minutes of infusion initiation, for procainamide vs. amiodarone, was 9% vs. 41%, p = 0.006. Severe hypotension or symptoms requiring immediate direct current cardioversion (DCCV) occurred in 6.3% vs. 31.0%. Results were similar in patients with structural heart disease (n = 49).

 

[6] Adenosine for wide-complex tachycardia – diagnostic?
Thu, 23 Aug 2012
Rogue Medic
Article

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

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.

 

.

Does use of Lights and Sirens save lives?

AmboLights
 

A recent Fire Chief Magazine and the current JEMS have some articles on the use of lights and sirens and the effect on patient outcomes. Doug Wolfberg, one of the EMS lawyers who might be trying to defend your choice on use of lights and sirens, states –
 

Few cows are more sacred in fire service based EMS than the ones that flash, wail and yelp. The use of emergency lights and sirens is an inseparable part of everyday EMS life.[1]

 

and –
 

Yet when we look at the actual evidence, a few things become apparent about RLS use. First, it’s proven to be dangerous. Second, it’s not proven to be beneficial.[2]

 

In another article, several of the top medical directors in the country state –
 

Unlike fire emergencies, which can grow exponentially and spread quickly, only a small subset of medical emergencies is truly time sensitive. Most don’t dramatically worsen in the course of a very few minutes, and they don’t spread from person to person.[3]

 

In rare cases, such as those where we are not able to control bleeding, or breathing, and the hospital is close enough that the patient won’t be dead by the time we get there, does use of lights and sirens save lives? In those rare cases? Sometimes.

Wouldn’t it be better to improve the quality of the people treating these patients, rather than increase the speed of transport?

When is the last time you transported a patient to the emergency department for something that needed to be done immediately to save the life of the patient?

Why not do that before transport?

Was it out of your scope of practice, did you not know what was going on, did you not feel comfortable performing the skill, could you not make up your mind about what to do, . . .?

Can’t place an endotraceal tube successfully? Use an LMA (Laryngeal Mask Airway), King Airway, BVM (Bag Valve Mask or resuscitator bag), stimulate the patient to breathe for himself, . . .

Can’t place an IV successfully? The IV is not a life line, but you can place an IO (IntraOssesous) line, apply direct pressure to bleeding, lay the patient flat (Trendelenberg does not improve things for the patient, although it might make you feel like you are doing something good), consider IM (IntraMuscular) or IN (IntraNasal) administration of medication, . . .

But it is an emergency!
 

We used to drive cardiac arrests to the hospital quickly, because we thought that was better.

We were wrong. If we do not resuscitate people prior to arrival at the hospital, they will probably stay dead. Driving fast just increases the odds that we will be as dead as the patient.

There has never been any good evidence to support driving fast.

We need to develop a better understanding of the treatment we provide. We need to provide better assessments (and continue to assess). We need to provide appropriate treatment on scene prior to transport. We need to rush less.
 

Do you believe in frequent lights and sirens transport?

Here is a dare for you.

Keep track of the times you transport with lights and sirens (these should be sentinel events) and document the actual life saving treatment provided in the emergency department in the first 10 minutes.

Keep track of this for a month, or a year.

Do you have anything?

Was it really something that saved the patient’s life?

If you do come up with something, does it amount to more than 1% of lights and sirens transports?

If we have almost always beenwrong about what is going on, should we be endangering everyone on the road to cover for our ignorance?

Footnotes:

[1] Why running lights and sirens is dangerous
Fire Chief
June 5, 2016
By Douglas M. Wolfberg, Esq.
Article

[2] Pro Bono: EMS Use of Red Lights and Siren Offers High Risk, Little Reward
JEMS
Wed, Feb 1, 2017
Doug Wolfberg
Article

[3] The Case Against EMS Red Lights and Siren Responses
JEMS
Wed, Feb 1, 2017
S. Marshal Isaacs, MD, FACEP, FAEMS , Carla Cash, MD , Osama Antar, MD , Raymond L. Fowler, MD, FACEP, DABEMS
Article

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Dr. Kudenchuk is Misrepresenting ALPS as ‘Significant’

ResearchBlogging.org
 

The results of ALPS (Amiodarone, Lidocaine, Placebo Study) are clear. There is no statistically significant difference in cardiac arrest outcomes with amiodarone or lidocaine, when compared with placebo.
 

Conclusions Overall, neither amiodarone nor lidocaine resulted in a significantly higher rate of survival or favorable neurologic outcome than the rate with placebo among patients with out-of-hospital cardiac arrest due to initial shock-refractory ventricular fibrillation or pulseless ventricular tachycardia.[1]

 

This study was very well done, but it was not designed to provide valid information about the effects of amiodarone or lidocaine on witnessed arrests or on EMS Witnessed arrests. Maybe the authors were overconfident.

In resuscitation research, we have abundant evidence that overconfidence is much more common than improvements in outcomes. There is no study that has shown an improvement in neurologically intact survival to discharge with any drug. Leaving the hospital with a working brain is the result that matters most to patients. We give drugs because we have too much confidence in the drugs and we are treating our confidence, not because we are doing anything to benefit the patients.
 

I WANT TO BE DECEIVED version of Domenichino, Virgin and Unicorn 1 copy
 

In ALPS there was a subgroup that might have reached statistical significance, but the researchers never determined what would be statistically significant when setting up the study, so these results are merely post hoc data mining (fitting the numbers to allow for a positive spin).

This is the Texas sharpshooter fallacy. The Texas sharpshooter shoots at the side of a barn, then draws targets around the bullet holes so that the the bullet holes are in the bull’s eyes.
 


 

The Texas sharpshooter didn’t shoot at any target, but he went back later and made it look like he hit the center of the target, because he drew the target around the bullet holes. Science requires that we state our hypotheses ahead of time, so that scientists are kept honest. Science requires that we calculate statistical significance ahead of time, especially for secondary outcomes/subgroup analysis, which may mean decreasing the p value to less than 0.03, or to less than 0.01, or even lower to reach statistical significance, so that scientists are kept honest. You are not permitted to bet on the outcome of a horse race that is already in progress for the same reason.

Why do we need to keep scientists honest? Because, as Dr. Peter Kudenchuk unintentionally demonstrates, scientists are just as biased as everyone else. Scientists need to follow the rules of science to minimize the influence of prejudices, such as overconfidence. When scientists do not follow these rules, they are just as easily fooled as everyone else and they may use that self-delusion, and their reputation, to fool others. Dr. Oz makes a fortune telling people what they want to hear about treatments that do not work.

I don’t claim that Dr. Kudenchuk, or even Dr. Oz, is deliberately fooling others, only that they have fooled themselves and are trying to convince others that their prejudices are accurate representations of reality. Here is what Dr. Kudenchuk has been telling people –
 

Researchers have confirmed that certain heart rhythm medications, when given by paramedics to patients with out-of-hospital cardiac arrest who had failed electrical shock treatment, improved likelihood of patients surviving transport to the hospital.[2]

 

The researchers have not confirmed any such thing.

If Dr. Kudenchuk wants to study whether amiodarone or lidocaine or both improve outcomes for witnessed cardiac arrest patients, or for EMS witnessed cardiac arrest patients, he needs to set up a study with all of the criteria for a positive result specified before the start of the study, because this study did not. The study explicitly states this, so Dr. Kudenchuk should be able to just read the study and see that he is wrong. Here is another statement that contradicts the information that was published.
 

Two groups of patients were pre-specified by the study as likely to respond differently to treatment: those with a witnessed cardiac arrest and those with an unwitnessed arrest. When it was originally designed, the study predicted that because patients with witnessed cardiac arrest are recognized and treated sooner, they would more likely be responsive to effective treatments than unwitnessed arrests. When first discovered, patients with an unwitnessed arrest are more likely to have already sustained irreversible organ damage resulting from a longer “down time” and less likely to respond to any treatment. This is precisely what was seen in the study – a statistically significant 5% improvement in survival to hospital discharge in witnessed arrests, and no effect from the drugs in unwitnessed arrests.[3]

 

Why does the published version of the paper contradict Dr. Kudenchuk? One of our biases is to remember things differently from the way things really happened. This is why eyewitness testimony is so often wrong. Here is what the published paper states about the witnessed arrest results.
 

We observed an interaction of treatment with the witnessed status of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest, which is often taken as a surrogate for early recognition of cardiac arrest, a short interval between the patient’s collapse from cardiac arrest and the initiation of treatment, and a greater likelihood of therapeutic responsiveness. Though prespecified, this subgroup analysis was performed in the context of an insignificant difference for the overall analysis, and the P value for heterogeneity in this subgroup analysis was not adjusted for the number of subgroup comparisons. Nonetheless, the suggestion that survival was improved by drug treatment in patients with witnessed out-of-hospital cardiac arrest, without evidence of harm in those with unwitnessed arrest, merits thoughtful consideration.[1]

 

The authors did not adjust the p value, so the authors do not claim that the witnessed cardiac arrest results are statistically significant. They only state that these results merit thoughtful consideration. In other words, if we want to claim this hypothesis is true, we need to set up a study to actually examine this hypothesis.

One earlier study (also by ROC – the Resuscitation Outcomes Consortium) even has similar results.[4],[5] These results are also not statistically significant, but suggest that with larger numbers the results might be significant. So why did the authors set up such a small study? Overconfidence and an apparent lack of familiarity with their own research.
 


 

The Seattle phenomenon (they claim that their resuscitation rate is the highest in America) seems to be due to excellent bystander CPR rates (apparently the highest in America), but that is only good enough for them to be experts on improving bystander CPR rates. The rest is probably due to defibrillation and chest compressions, which are the only prehospital interventions demonstrated to improve neurologically intact survival.

Why does a bystander CPR specialist focus on drugs? Overconfidence and an apparent lack of understanding of the resuscitation research. Dr. Kudenchuk preaches like Timothy Leary about the benefits of drugs and with just as little evidence. We should give appropriate credit for Dr. Kudenchuk’s work on CPR, but we should not mistake that for a thorough understanding of the resuscitation research, even the research with his name attached.
 

A new podcast reviews ALPS. Dominick Walenczak does not notice the mistakes of Dr. Kudenchuk, but he is not one of the researchers, so that is easy to overlook. The rest of the podcast is excellent. Listen to it here.
 

Episode 8: Conquering the ALPS (Study)
CritMedic – Critical Care Paramedicine Podcast
Dominick Walenczak
April 7, 2016
Podcast page
 

Footnotes:

[1] Amiodarone, Lidocaine, or Placebo in Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest.
Kudenchuk PJ, Brown SP, Daya M, Rea T, Nichol G, Morrison LJ, Leroux B, Vaillancourt C, Wittwer L, Callaway CW, Christenson J, Egan D, Ornato JP, Weisfeldt ML, Stiell IG, Idris AH, Aufderheide TP, Dunford JV, Colella MR, Vilke GM, Brienza AM, Desvigne-Nickens P, Gray PC, Gray R, Seals N, Straight R, Dorian P; Resuscitation Outcomes Consortium Investigators.
N Engl J Med. 2016 Apr 4. [Epub ahead of print]
PMID: 27043165

Free Full Text from NEJM

[2] Antiarrhythmic drugs found beneficial when used by EMS treating cardiac arrest
Press release
For Immediate Release:April 4, 2016
NHLBI (National Heart Lung and Blood Institute)
Press release

[3] Dr. Kudenchuk: Study reveals exciting news about cardiac arrest treatment
Lindsay Bosslet
18 hours ago
Public Health Insider
Article

[4] Wide variability in drug use in out-of-hospital cardiac arrest: A report from the resuscitation outcomes consortium.
Glover BM, Brown SP, Morrison L, Davis D, Kudenchuk PJ, Van Ottingham L, Vaillancourt C, Cheskes S, Atkins DL, Dorian P; Resuscitation Outcomes Consortium Investigators.
Resuscitation. 2012 Nov;83(11):1324-30. doi: 10.1016/j.resuscitation.2012.07.008. Epub 2012 Jul 31.
PMID: 22858552 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

Free Full Text from PubMed Central.

[5] Wide variability in drug use in out-of-hospital cardiac arrest: A report from the resuscitation outcomes consortium – Part I
Mon, 17 Sep 2012
Rogue Medic
Article

 
Kudenchuk, P., Brown, S., Daya, M., Rea, T., Nichol, G., Morrison, L., Leroux, B., Vaillancourt, C., Wittwer, L., Callaway, C., Christenson, J., Egan, D., Ornato, J., Weisfeldt, M., Stiell, I., Idris, A., Aufderheide, T., Dunford, J., Colella, M., Vilke, G., Brienza, A., Desvigne-Nickens, P., Gray, P., Gray, R., Seals, N., Straight, R., & Dorian, P. (2016). Amiodarone, Lidocaine, or Placebo in Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest New England Journal of Medicine DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1514204

 

Glover BM, Brown SP, Morrison L, Davis D, Kudenchuk PJ, Van Ottingham L, Vaillancourt C, Cheskes S, Atkins DL, Dorian P, & the Resuscitation Outcomes Consortium Investigators (2012). Wide variability in drug use in out-of-hospital cardiac arrest: A report from the resuscitation outcomes consortium. Resuscitation PMID: 22858552

.

Why is progress so slow in resuscitation research?

ResearchBlogging.org
 

Why is progress so slow in resuscitation research? A lot of money and time went in to finding out which type of blood-letting ventilation works best – ignoring the absence of valid evidence that ventilation is better than no ventilation. Why not gamble with our patients?

In response to The Fatal Flaw in Trial of Continuous or Interrupted Chest Compressions during CPR,[1],[2] Kenny commented that –
 

there are many things in your blog that are not correct.[1]

 

I asked for specifics and received the following from Anonymous (maybe Kenny and maybe not) –
 

That the study design ASSUMES we don’t want to know if ventilation is useful or not.[1]

 

Ventilation study implied facepalm
 

Assumes is not many things, but the comments may be from different people and there may be so many things, that Kenny is still documenting all of the examples. Perhaps the following is more specific wording that will satisfy defenders of the study –

    The study design strongly suggests that

        in the attempted resuscitation of adult patients

            with cardiac causes of cardiac arrest

                which is almost all cardiac arrest patients

                    active ventilation does not need evidence,

                        but selecting the favorite flavor of ventilation

                            does need expensive high quality evidence

                                just in case someone ever produces valid evidence

                                    that these patients are not harmed by ventilations

                                        and that these patients receive some benefit from ventilations.
 

That is a lot to assume believe without appropriate evidence.

Based on the available evidence, what are the odds that ventilations are not harmful and are beneficial?
 

Does anyone have any good argument to give ventilations as much as a 50% chance?
 

What about a 40% chance that ventilations will survive a valid study?

How about a 30% chance?

20%?

Is there any justifiable reason to be so optimistic?

If there isn’t any justifiable reason to be optimistic, then we are only making assumptions when we take shortcuts to eliminate the essential research in order to study something that is traditional, rather than based on valid evidence.
 

Do the authors understand that there isn’t valid evidence of any benefit/lack of harm from active ventilations?

Do the authors care that there is not valid evidence of any benefit/lack of harm from active ventilations?

If I have overlooked a third possibility, somebody should let me know. If there is valid evidence, somebody should provide it.

Footnotes:

[1] The Fatal Flaw in Trial of Continuous or Interrupted Chest Compressions during CPR
Wed, 25 Nov 2015 10:15:20
by Rogue Medic
Article

[2] Trial of Continuous or Interrupted Chest Compressions during CPR.
Nichol G, Leroux B, Wang H, Callaway CW, Sopko G, Weisfeldt M, Stiell I, Morrison LJ, Aufderheide TP, Cheskes S, Christenson J, Kudenchuk P, Vaillancourt C, Rea TD, Idris AH, Colella R, Isaacs M, Straight R, Stephens S, Richardson J, Condle J, Schmicker RH, Egan D, May S, Ornato JP; ROC Investigators.
N Engl J Med. 2015 Nov 9. [Epub ahead of print]
PMID: 26550795

Free Full Text from NEJM.

Nichol, G., Leroux, B., Wang, H., Callaway, C., Sopko, G., Weisfeldt, M., Stiell, I., Morrison, L., Aufderheide, T., Cheskes, S., Christenson, J., Kudenchuk, P., Vaillancourt, C., Rea, T., Idris, A., Colella, R., Isaacs, M., Straight, R., Stephens, S., Richardson, J., Condle, J., Schmicker, R., Egan, D., May, S., & Ornato, J. (2015). Trial of Continuous or Interrupted Chest Compressions during CPR New England Journal of Medicine DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1509139

.

The Fatal Flaw in Trial of Continuous or Interrupted Chest Compressions during CPR

ResearchBlogging.org
 

Trial of Continuous or Interrupted Chest Compressions during CPR — NEJM
 

In conclusion, among patients with out-of-hospital cardiac arrest in whom CPR was performed by EMS providers, a strategy of continuous chest compressions with positive-pressure ventilation did not result in significantly higher rates of survival or favorable neurologic status than the rates with a strategy of chest compressions interrupted for ventilation.[1]

 

This is not a study that has a valid control group to determine if there is any benefit from ventilation. There is no group that does not receive ventilations, so it is like a study of one type of blood-letting vs. another type of blood-letting with the researchers taking for granted that blood-letting does improve outcomes. That is not a problem if blood-letting actually improves outcomes.

Should we take it for granted that blood-letting improves outcomes and that the only hypothesis worth studying is which brand to choose?

Should we assume that ventilations are too sacred to ever be doubted?

Should we assume that there are better arguments for ventilations than for blood-letting? That is not true.
 

If we ignore this fatal flaw, the study is very well done. I really like the study design. It is an excellent example of how to study two different versions of an intervention after that intervention has been demonstrated to improve outcomes, but ventilations have never been demonstrated to improve outcomes in adult patients with cardiac causes of cardiac arrest.

Should we have assumed that blood-letting was too sacred to ever be doubted?
 

We do know that outcomes for seizure patients improve when EMS gives benzodiazepines, because some people cared enough to find out.[2]

Assuming that a treatment is too important to study is like building on a foundation in a swamp.
 


 

We still do not know if there is any benefit from including ventilations, because the study design assumes that we don’t want to know.

There is no good reason to believe that ventilations improve outcomes for adult patients with cardiac causes of cardiac arrest. This study has not done anything to change that.

Our patients deserve better. Why aren’t we finding out what improves outcomes?

Footnotes:

[1] Trial of Continuous or Interrupted Chest Compressions during CPR.
Nichol G, Leroux B, Wang H, Callaway CW, Sopko G, Weisfeldt M, Stiell I, Morrison LJ, Aufderheide TP, Cheskes S, Christenson J, Kudenchuk P, Vaillancourt C, Rea TD, Idris AH, Colella R, Isaacs M, Straight R, Stephens S, Richardson J, Condle J, Schmicker RH, Egan D, May S, Ornato JP; ROC Investigators.
N Engl J Med. 2015 Nov 9. [Epub ahead of print]
PMID: 26550795

Free Full Text from NEJM.

[2] A comparison of lorazepam, diazepam, and placebo for the treatment of out-of-hospital status epilepticus.
Alldredge BK, Gelb AM, Isaacs SM, Corry MD, Allen F, Ulrich S, Gottwald MD, O’Neil N, Neuhaus JM, Segal MR, Lowenstein DH.
N Engl J Med. 2001 Aug 30;345(9):631-7. Erratum in: N Engl J Med 2001 Dec 20;345(25):1860.
PMID: 11547716 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

Free Full Text from N Engl J Med. with link to PDF Download.

Nichol, G., Leroux, B., Wang, H., Callaway, C., Sopko, G., Weisfeldt, M., Stiell, I., Morrison, L., Aufderheide, T., Cheskes, S., Christenson, J., Kudenchuk, P., Vaillancourt, C., Rea, T., Idris, A., Colella, R., Isaacs, M., Straight, R., Stephens, S., Richardson, J., Condle, J., Schmicker, R., Egan, D., May, S., & Ornato, J. (2015). Trial of Continuous or Interrupted Chest Compressions during CPR New England Journal of Medicine DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1509139

Alldredge BK,, Gelb AM,, Isaacs SM,, Corry MD,, Allen F,, Ulrich S,, Gottwald MD,, O’Neil N,, Neuhaus JM,, Segal MR,, & Lowenstein DH. (2001). A Comparison of Lorazepam, Diazepam, and Placebo for the Treatment of Out-of-Hospital Status Epilepticus New England Journal of Medicine, 345 (25), 1860-1860 DOI: 10.1056/NEJM200112203452521

.

Our current ambulance system is based on little scientific evidence

 

Our current ambulance system is based on little scientific evidence.

This is one comment by Prachi Sanghavi that has some paramedics very upset.

The video of her short speech at Harvard was posted on EMS1.com[1] and the responses suggested that there is something horribly wrong in the statement, or in any of what followed. There isn’t.
 


 

The problem is with the attitude of those who think that they know everything.

The problem is with the people who oppose finding out if treatments work.

The problem is with people who oppose protecting our patients from harmful treatments.

Prachi Sanghavi discusses the difference between BLS (Basic Life Support) treatment and ALS (Advanced Life Support) treatment. BLS includes all of the prehospital treatment that have evidence of benefit. All of them. ALS includes all of the cool things that paramedics and doctors do before getting to the hospital based on a wish and a prayer, but not on any valid evidence.
 


 

This is a comparison of cardiac arrest outcomes between two similar counties looking at the lack of expected benefit with ALS. There are more variables than just ALS vs. BLS, but we do need to ask Why are these cardiac arrest outcomes so bad with ALS?

Prachi Sanghavi is incorrect about a few things. Paramedics generally use a manual defibrillator, not a semi-automatic defibrillator. Taking longer at a cardiac arrest scene is probably not a problem. Those patients transported without pulses can be expected to end up in the morgue. Moving the patient with ineffective compressions, rather than staying on scene to do compressions well, is not recommended, because it is not supported by evidence. Rushing the patient to the hospital is just rushing the patient to ALS in a building. Yes, there is more ALS available at the hospital, but nothing that has good evidence of improving outcomes. Therapeutic hypothermia, is part of post-resuscitation treatment, not resuscitation treatment. That may change.[2]

Prachi Sanghavi also looked at trauma, stroke, and heart attack. The results were the same. Patients had better outcomes with Basic Life Support.

Our response should be to ask questions.

Are we doing something wrong?

What evidence do we have that ALS treatment improves outcomes?

The problem is that we ignore evidence and make excuses for our willful ignorance.

We are slow to adopt ALS treatments that have good evidence of improving outcomes and much, much slower to get rid of treatments that have only the weakest evidence of benefit – expert opinion. Expert opinion is the basis for all treatments that are later demonstrated to be harmful, so expert opinion isn’t worth bragging about. Real experts understand and learn from the evidence.

Should we trust the people criticizing the message that Maybe more is not better, or should we examine what we have been doing to find out what works?

Why are we opposed to providing the best care we can?

Footnotes:

[1] Researcher: Is BLS better than ALS?
EMS1.com
November 13, 2015
Article

[1] Refractory cardiac arrest treated with mechanical CPR, hypothermia, ECMO and early reperfusion (the CHEER trial).
Stub D, Bernard S, Pellegrino V, Smith K, Walker T, Sheldrake J, Hockings L, Shaw J, Duffy SJ, Burrell A, Cameron P, Smit de V, Kaye DM.
Resuscitation. 2015 Jan;86:88-94. doi: 10.1016/j.resuscitation.2014.09.010. Epub 2014 Oct 2.
PMID: 25281189

Free Full Text from Resuscitation.

This is a tiny study that suggests a grouping of treatments that may work (or that may include a treatment, or two, that may lead to improved outcomes. The results are good, but it is just one tiny study that needs replication and each of the treatments should be studied individually.

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How Bad is the Evidence for the New 2015 ACLS Guidelines?

ResearchBlogging.org
 
    The new ACLS guidelines are out. How bad is the evidence?

    The short answer – The Advanced Cardiac Life Support guidelines could be worse.

How does the American Heart Association determine that a recommendation is not beneficial?
 

Class III: No Benefit, is a moderate recommendation, generally reserved for therapies or tests that have been shown in high-level studies (generally LOE A or B) to provide no benefit when tested against a placebo or control.[1]

 

The tobacco enema has been used successfully as a treatment for cardiac arrest, so the evidence of lack of benefit is poor.[2] Clearly, the Advanced Cardiac Life Support guidelines cannot claim that the tobacco enema is Class III. Successfully? The treatment was used and a dead person was no longer dead. In other words, just as successfully as most of the ACLS treatments.
 

From Eisenberg, MS. Life in the balance: emergency medicine and the quest to reverse sudden death. 1997; Oxford University Press. [betterworldbooks][3]

 

This is one way to make excuses for justify doing something just because of ideology. In the absence of good evidence of benefit, we should not harm our patients to protect our ideology. We used to do this with blood-letting, which was defended even after there was clear evidence of harm. That is just the best known example, but this dishonesty continues and continues to be defended.

Why don’t we hold anyone accountable, when we have the evidence that our treatments are harmful? Because we all seem to go along to get along.

The 2015 ACLS guidelines are not all bad, but they clearly do not encourage withholding harmful treatments until we have obvious evidence of harm. Should we assume that a treatment works just because the explanation appeals to some experts as much as the explanation for blood-letting appealed to the experts when that was in vogue?

This is not medicine. This is a fashion show. Our patients are the ones harmed.
 

Footnotes:

[1] 2015 AHA Classes of Recommendation
2015 American Heart Association Guidelines Update for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation and Emergency Cardiovascular Care
Part 2: Evidence Evaluation and Management of Conflicts of Interest
Development of the 2015 Guidelines Update
Circulation.
2015; 132: S368-S382
Free Full Text from Circulation.

[2] Tobacco smoke enemas
Ghislaine Lawrence
Volume 359, No. 9315, p1442,
20 April 2002
Lancet
Abstract with link to Full Text PDF download.

[3] Ever tried smoking?
by Chris Nickson
Life in the Fast Lane
Article

Morrison LJ, Gent LM, Lang E, Nunnally ME, Parker MJ, Callaway CW, Nadkarni VM, Fernandez AR, Billi JE, Egan JR, Griffin RE, Shuster M, & Hazinski MF (2015). Part 2: Evidence Evaluation and Management of Conflicts of Interest: 2015 American Heart Association Guidelines Update for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation and Emergency Cardiovascular Care. Circulation, 132 (18 Suppl 2) PMID: 26472990
 

Lawrence, G. (2002). Tobacco smoke enemas The Lancet, 359 (9315) DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(02)08339-3

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Will the Upcoming Pennsylvania Paramedic Protocols Eliminate Our Use of Not-So-Therapeutic Hypothermia?

 
Will Pennsylvania continue its trend of rejecting treatments that do not work and medicine that is not medicine?

One place to get a clear indication is the Post-resuscitation Care protocol, which has encouraged testing the ice waters of therapeutic hypothermia as an optional treatment that requires medical command orders. Backing away from further use of cold IV fluid for no known benefit to patients should be easy to do without political backlash from those more interested in doing something than in protecting patients from treatment for the sake of treatment.
 

Possible Medical Command Orders:

A. In adult patient, cold (4º C) NSS bolus of 20-30 mL/kg, if available, may be ordered if patient not following commands after ROSC from nontraumatic cardiac arrest.[1]

 

But wait.

      I know that therapeutic hypothermia works.

That is misleading. There is plenty of evidence that cooling patients in the hospital improves outcomes, but for prehospital patients the use of cold IV fluids has only been shown to improve outcomes for asystole/PEA (Pulseless Electrical Activity) patients and only in one study.[2]

For the patients most likely to survive cardiac arrest, the initial rhythm is V Fib (Ventricular Fibrillation). For these patients we need to stop the ice water infusions. Prehospital cold IV fluids following resuscitation of V Fib patients has been studied to death – more deaths in the treatment groups than in the no treatment groups. There has been no evidence of any benefit from IV ice water.[3],[4],[5]
 


Image credit.
 

This method of administration would probably be better for V Fib patients than IV ice water, because the adverse effects of IV ice water appear to be due to fluid overload.

I do not mean that prehospital therapeutic hypothermia is always a bad idea for V Fib patients – only that we need to find a way that is less harmful than dumping ice water into these recently dead patients for no benefit.
 


Click on image to make it larger.[3]
 

First, do no harm.

If the treatment is not beneficial, there is no good reason to expose patients to the adverse effects of the treatment for no known benefit.

Will we stop making excuses for endangering our patients with treatments that do not work?

Science teaches us to learn from our mistakes, while human nature encourages us to make excuses and continue to make the mistakes. Will we make the mistake of continuing to dump cold ice water into these recently dead patients for no good reason?

Footnotes:

[1] Post-Resuscitation Care
Pennsylvania Statewide ALS Protocols 2013
pp. 34-36 – 3080 – ALS – Adult/Peds
Protocols in PDF Download format.

[2] Induction of prehospital therapeutic hypothermia after resuscitation from nonventricular fibrillation cardiac arrest*.
Bernard SA, Smith K, Cameron P, Masci K, Taylor DM, Cooper DJ, Kelly AM, Silvester W; Rapid Infusion of Cold Hartmanns Investigators.
Crit Care Med. 2012 Mar;40(3):747-53. doi: 10.1097/CCM.0b013e3182377038.
PMID: 22020244 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

[3] Induction of therapeutic hypothermia by paramedics after resuscitation from out-of-hospital ventricular fibrillation cardiac arrest: a randomized controlled trial.
Bernard SA, Smith K, Cameron P, Masci K, Taylor DM, Cooper DJ, Kelly AM, Silvester W; Rapid Infusion of Cold Hartmanns (RICH) Investigators.
Circulation. 2010 Aug 17;122(7):737-42. doi: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.109.906859. Epub 2010 Aug 2.
PMID: 20679551 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

Free Full Text from Circulation.

[4] Effect of Prehospital Induction of Mild Hypothermia on Survival and Neurological Status Among Adults With Cardiac Arrest: A Randomized Clinical Trial.
Kim F, Nichol G, Maynard C, Hallstrom A, Kudenchuk PJ, Rea T, Copass MK, Carlbom D, Deem S, Longstreth WT Jr, Olsufka M, Cobb LA.
JAMA. 2013 Nov 17. doi: 10.1001/jama.2013.282173. [Epub ahead of print]
PMID: 24240712 [PubMed – as supplied by publisher]

Free Full Text from JAMA.

[5] Targeted temperature management at 33°C versus 36°C after cardiac arrest.
Nielsen N, Wetterslev J, Cronberg T, Erlinge D, Gasche Y, Hassager C, Horn J, Hovdenes J, Kjaergaard J, Kuiper M, Pellis T, Stammet P, Wanscher M, Wise MP, Åneman A, Al-Subaie N, Boesgaard S, Bro-Jeppesen J, Brunetti I, Bugge JF, Hingston CD, Juffermans NP, Koopmans M, Køber L, Langørgen J, Lilja G, Møller JE, Rundgren M, Rylander C, Smid O, Werer C, Winkel P, Friberg H; TTM Trial Investigators.
N Engl J Med. 2013 Dec 5;369(23):2197-206. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa1310519. Epub 2013 Nov 17.
PMID:24237006[PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

Free Full Text from NEJM.

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