The only reason we get away with giving such large doses of epinephrine to these patients is that they are already dead.

- Rogue Medic

Should ACLS Recommend the Unknown Based on Weak Evidence?


 
The AHA (American Heart Association) and ILCOR (International Liaison Committee on Resuscitation) will be meeting tomorrow to finalize the recommendations for the 2015 ACLS (Advanced Cardiac Life Support) guidelines. Here is the comment I submitted on the proposed recommendation for epinephrine (Adrenaline in Commonwealth countries) in cardiac arrest.

I have not received any information about where to submit SEERS comments, so I am sending this to you. Please forward it to whomever is supposed to receive comments.

Vasopressors for cardiac arrest (1. Epi v Placebo)
 

Consensus on Science:
For all four long term (critical) and short term (important) outcomes, we found one underpowered trial that provided low quality evidence comparing SDE to placebo (Jacobs, 2001, 1138).
[1]

 

As a trial that is stated to be underpowered (through no fault of Dr. Jacobs),[2] is there any valid reason the Jacobs study should be considered to be superior to observational studies?
 

Among 534 subjects, there was uncertain benefit or harm of SDE over placebo for the critical outcomes of survival to discharge [RR 2.12, 95% CI 0.75-6.02, p=0.16] and good neurological outcome defined as CPC of 1-2 [RR 1.73, 95% CI 0.59-5.11, p=0.32].[1]

 

We do not have good evidence to tell us if this is harmful or beneficial and we do not have any way of determining which patients will be harmed or helped by administration of epinephrine.


 

However, patients who received SDE had higher rates of the two important outcomes of survival to admission [RR 1.95, 95% CI, 1.34-2.84, p=0.0004] and ROSC in the prehospital setting [RR 2.80, 95% CI 1.78-4.41, p<0.00001] compared to those who received placebo.[1]

 

Are these surrogate endpoints important?

How do we know?

If these surrogate endpoints are important, why is there no valid evidence to support this claim?

We have a history of being misled by surrogate endpoints. We used to bleed patients and that produced a number of clear benefits in surrogate endpoints.
 

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.[3]

 

We don’t do that any more, because medicine is not supposed to just create a superficial improvement.

We should not be making any recommendation to treat based on such weak evidence.
 

The evidence for the routine use of adrenaline is perceived to be at equipoise within the international community of resuscitation scientists requiring re-evaluation19 as suggested by this comprehensive systematic review and meta-analysis. There is a need for well-designed, placebo-controlled, and adequately powered RCTs to evaluate the efficacy of adrenaline and to determine its optimal dosing.11,16,54 The question as to the efficacy of adrenaline for OHCA remains unanswered.[4]

 

Since the question as to the efficacy of adrenaline for OHCA remains unanswered, we should avoid substituting a bad answer for We don’t know.

Maybe we should bring back the indeterminate class for these unanswerable questions.
 

Treatment Recommendation
Given the observed benefit in short term outcomes, we suggest Standard Dose Epinephrine be administered to patients in cardiac arrest.(weak recommendation, low quality)
[1]

 

The benefit is considered important, but that is just an expert opinion, which is the lowest level of evidence.

A weak recommendation to give a treatment of unknown benefit and unknown harm, based on evidence that is admitted to be of low quality, should not set the standard of care. Even if the guidelines are explicitly stated to not be standards of care, they are adopted as standards of care by the emergency medicine community and by the EMS community.

We don’t know enough to make a recommendation about epinephrine, or most other treatments, in cardiac arrest.

We do not need to keep making the same recommendation just because we have made it before. We can leave it up to the treating physician or to the medical director writing the protocols for EMS.
 
 

See also – Proposed 2015 ACLS Epinephrine Recommendation – Vasopressors for cardiac arrest (1. Epi v Placebo)

Footnotes:

[1] Vasopressors for cardiac arrest (1. Epi v Placebo)
ILCOR Scientific Evidence Evaluation and Review System
Questions Open for Public Comment
Closing Date – February 28, 2015
Question page

[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 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.

 

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

[4] Adrenaline for out-of-hospital cardiac arrest resuscitation: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.
Lin S, Callaway CW, Shah PS, Wagner JD, Beyene J, Ziegler CP, Morrison LJ.
Resuscitation. 2014 Jun;85(6):732-40. doi: 10.1016/j.resuscitation.2014.03.008. Epub 2014 Mar 15.
PMID: 24642404 [PubMed – in process]

.

FDA takes steps to improve reliability of automated external defibrillators


 

Why improve the reliability of AEDs (Automated External Defibrillators)?

AEDs are important, much more important than the epinephrine I wrote about yesterday, because AEDs actually work – at least when the AEDs work as they are supposed to.

AEDs fail much more often than they should.
 

From January 2005 through September 2014, the FDA received approximately 72,000 medical device reports associated with the failure of these devices. Since 2005, manufacturers have conducted 111 recalls, affecting more than two million AEDs. The problems associated with many of these recalls and reports included design and manufacturing issues, such as inadequate control of components purchased from other suppliers.[1]

 

72,000 reports over ten years. In the US, there are about 300,00 cardiac arrests a year where treatment is considered and an AED might be applied. Out of those, how many times is an AED applied? 1/3?

If I use that ballpark number guess, then 72,000 out of 1,000,000 is 0.72%. The reporting of problems that are identified during equipment checks and maintenance should also decrease the rate of failure in the treatment of real patients. Maybe I decrease that guess at a failure rate during cardiac arrest treatment/assessment to 0.5% or 0.1%?

A decrease to 0.1% is one out of every 1,000 uses. Is that a tolerable level of failure for a device that has only two tasks, but has to remain ready to perform those tasks at all times? The two tasks are to differentiate between ventricular fibrillation/ventricular tachycardia and any other cardiac rhythm and to deliver a shock to the patient after ventricular fibrillation or ventricular tachycardia has been identified.
 


Image credit.
 

There are only a few moving parts and the designs may vary from what I describe. The wire that is manually attached to the defibrillator pads. The lids that is opened, turns on the AED, and triggers the voice prompts. The buttons that are pressed to turn on the AEDs not turned on by opening the lid, to analyze the rhythm, and to deliver the shock.

Would Do we accept a similar failure rate from an ambulance, which has many more moving parts?

Do we accept similar failure rates from our personal vehicles, which have many more moving parts?

Do we accept similar failure rates from aircraft, which has many more moving parts?

Yes and no.

We deal with the failures in these vehicles by building in redundancies and paying attention to maintenance, but the result is that the failures rarely cause death, or the lack of resuscitation that could have occurred with a properly functioning AED.
 

For example, NASA management claimed that they had an isty-bitsy teeny-weeny failure rate. They were shown to be wrong in a very dramatic, and deadly, fashion. Twice.
 

If a reasonable launch schedule is to be maintained, engineering often cannot be done fast enough to keep up with the expectations of originally conservative certification criteria designed to guarantee a very safe vehicle. In these situations, subtly, and often with apparently logical arguments, the criteria are altered so that flights may still be certified in time. They therefore fly in a relatively unsafe condition, with a chance of failure of the order of a percent (it is difficult to be more accurate).

Official management, on the other hand, claims to believe the probability of failure is a thousand times less. One reason for this may be an attempt to assure the government of NASA perfection and success in order to ensure the supply of funds. The other may be that they sincerely believed it to be true, demonstrating an almost incredible lack of communication between themselves and their working engineers.

. . . .

For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled.[2]

 

We need to understand what the actual failure rates are. We also need to work on the failure rate that comes from operator error.

The reason people are able to lie to us with statistics (statistics do not lie, but statistics can be used by liars) is that we choose to remain ignorant of the appropriate use of statistics. We ask to be lied to.
 

What is an acceptable failure rate? It isn’t zero, because a zero failure rate is a lie.

Footnotes:

[1] FDA takes steps to improve reliability of automated external defibrillators
January 28, 2015
Food and Drug Administration
FDA News Release

[2] Volume 2: Appendix F – Personal Observations on Reliability of Shuttle
Report of the Presidential Commission on the Space Shuttle Challenger Accident (Also known as The Rogers Commission Report)
by R. P. Feynman
Conclusions
NASA report

.

The Most Misleading Medical News of 2014

 

The media are horrible at reporting medical stories, or any other science stories. They regularly report that some recent study shows a cure for cancer, as if cancer is just one illness. What were the media worst at covering this year?

Ebola.
 

They said Ebola was easy to catch, that illegal immigrants may be carrying the virus across the southern border, that it was all part of a government or corporate conspiracy.[1]

 


 
Image credit.
 

The part of that quote that affects EMS is the claim that ebola is easy to catch.

Ebola does require isolation precautions – and we are not good at using, or understanding, isolation precautions. Just watch your coworkers putting everything on. Even worse, watch them take them off. Much worse, watch yourself in a mirror.

We are far from good at using isolation precautions.
 

Ebola spreads through direct contact with bodily fluids such as blood, vomit and diarrhea. Coughing and sneezing are not symptoms.

Airborne viruses, meanwhile, have the ability to travel large distances propelled by a sneeze or cough. In those cases, people breathe in virus particles without even realizing it. Scientists say there is no evidence Ebola works like that.[1]

 

Back in August Dr. Anthony Fauci described how we should expect this outbreak to progress. Looking back, we should have ignored the news media and reread this article.
 

Although the regional threat of Ebola in West Africa looms large, the chance that the virus will establish a foothold in the United States or another high-resource country remains extremely small. Although global air transit could, and most likely will, allow an infected, asymptomatic person to board a plane and unknowingly carry Ebola virus to a higher-income country, containment should be readily achievable.[2]

 

Dr. Fauci predicted that in August (print edition September 18). His prediction was more accurate than the media reported it as it happened a month later (a week later than the print edition).

Perhaps we should pay as much attention to what Dr. Fauci wrote about our optimism in favor of inadequately studied treatments.
 

Among the therapies in development is a “cocktail” of humanized-mouse antibodies (“ZMapp”), which has shown promise in nonhuman primates. ZMapp was administered to two U.S. citizens who were recently evacuated from Liberia to Atlanta, and both patients have had clinical improvement. However, it is not clear whether ZMapp led to the recovery, and with only two cases, conclusions regarding its efficacy should be withheld.[2]

 

Perspective is important and we should apply it more often.
 

For example –
 

1. Restricting travel from Ebola-outbreak countries to the United States is the best way to prevent the spread of Ebola to our shores.

FALSE

There is no evidence that restricting travel will prevent spread of Ebola to the U.S. Exposed and infected persons might reach our country undetected and thereby escape essential public health monitoring, which could worsen transmission risk. The key to controlling this epidemic is to stop Ebola at its source in West Africa.[3]

 

If we won’t take the risk of caring for these patients, we should not interfere with those who do understand appropriate treatment and do treat these patients.

Footnotes:

[1] 2014 Lie of the Year: Exaggerations about Ebola
Politifact
Tampa Bay Times
By Angie Drobnic Holan, Aaron Sharockman
Monday, December 15th, 2014 at 3:08 p.m.
Article
 

PolitiFact editors choose the Lie of the Year, in part, based on how broadly a myth or falsehood infiltrates conventional thinking. In 2013, it was the promise made by President Barack Obama and other Democrats that “If you like your health care plan, you can keep it.”

 

[2] Ebola–underscoring the global disparities in health care resources.
Fauci AS.
N Engl J Med. 2014 Sep 18;371(12):1084-6. doi: 10.1056/NEJMp1409494. Epub 2014 Aug 13. No abstract available.
PMID: 25119491 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

Free Full Text from New England Journal of Medicine.

[3] Ten Key “Facts” About Ebola: True or False?
Kristi L. Koenig, MD, FACEP, FIFEM
November 7, 2014
JournalWatch Emergency Medicine from NEJM
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

Levy SB, & Rosh AJ (2006). Images in emergency medicine. Dextrose extravasation causing skin necrosis. Annals of emergency medicine, 48 (3) PMID: 16934641

.

Resuscitation characteristics and outcomes in suspected drug overdose-related out-of-hospital cardiac arrest

ResearchBlogging.org
 

This study is interesting for several reasons.

In a system that claims excellence, the most consistent way to identify the study group is by documentation of a protocol violation – but it is not intended as a study of protocol violations.

This may hint at some benefit from epinephrine (Adrenaline in Commonwealth countries), but that would require some study and we just don’t study epinephrine. We only make excuses for not studying epinephrine.

The atropine results suggest that the epinephrine data may be just due to small numbers, or that we may want to consider atropine for drug overdose cardiac arrest patients, or . . . .

The Sodium Bicarbonate (bicarb – NaHCO3) results suggest a flaw in EMS education (probably testing, too). If the patient is acidotic, this is one type of cardiac arrest where hyperventilation may be beneficial. Bicarb is the part of the drug that doesn’t do much, especially if the patient is dead. The sodium is what works, such as when the patient has taken too much of a sodium channel blocker, such as a tricyclic antidepressant or a class I antiarrhythmic. Acidosis is treated by hyperventilation. Use capnography.

Most important – antidotes probably don’t work as expected during cardiac arrest. Not even naloxone (Narcan).
 

Despite clear differences in the etiology of suspected OD [OverDose] and non-OD OHCA [Out of Hospital Cardiac Arrest], the International Liaison Committee on Resuscitation guidelines published in 2010 do not specify different treatments for suspected OD-OHCA patients during resuscitation,and state that there is no evidence promoting the intra-arrest administration of the opioid antagonist naloxone.8 [1]

 

What did they find in the study?

They may have located the highest concentration of heroin overdose in the country. 93% of OD-OHCA patients were treated with naloxone.
 

We relied on either naloxone administration or clear description of circumstantial evidence in the PCR [Patient Care Recod] to identify a suspected OD. Clear descriptions are also rare, and most (93%) of the cases were identified by naloxone administration. Naloxone during cardiac arrest is not part of any regional protocol, and all of these administrations are deviations from recommended practice. There may be other cases in which paramedics suspected OD, but did not deviate from protocol to administer naloxone. Therefore, it is impossible to be certain whether the actual number of OD cases is larger or smaller than the reported number. However, the use of naloxone as a proxy indicator of suspected OD has been supported in the literature.11 [1]

 

The EMS approach to naloxone still appears to be –
 


Image credits – 123
 

These results seem to show better response to the prehospital drugs in the OD-OHCA patients, but that ignores the ROSC (Return Of Spontaneous Circulation) rates.
 


Click on images to make them larger.
 

Why would OD-OHCA patients do better than non-OD-OHCA patients if they get a pulse back?

The average non-OD-OHCA patient is 20+ years older. These older patients may not be as capable of recovery nor as capable of tolerating the toxicity of the drugs they were treated with.

The change after ROSC is dramatic. Is that the important point of this study?

Are they doing anything special for OD patients in the hospital, or is it just a matter of That which does not kill me by anoxic brain damage, may allow me to recover twice as often as a typical cardiac arrest patient.
 

Do drugs (antidotes, antiarrhythmics, . . . ) work the same way in dead people as in living people?
 

Pharmacologic insults are just so massive and normal metabolism and physiology so deranged that no mere mortal can make a meaningful intervention. The seriously poisoned who maintain vital signs in the ED have the best, albeit never guaranteed, chance of rescue from a modicum of antidotes and intensive supportive care.[2]

 

We should understand that normal metabolism is irrelevant to cardiac arrest.

We should understand that we do not need to ventilate adult cardiac arrest patients, when the cause is cardiac. An absence of ventilation would not be appropriate in a living adult, but dead metabolism is not normal. If something as basic as oxygen changes, when the patient is dead, how much less do we understand the behavior of other drugs in dead patients?

Footnotes:

[1] Resuscitation characteristics and outcomes in suspected drug overdose-related out-of-hospital cardiac arrest.
Koller AC, Salcido DD, Callaway CW, Menegazzi JJ.
Resuscitation. 2014 Jun 26. pii: S0300-9572(14)00581-4. doi: 10.1016/j.resuscitation.2014.05.036. [Epub ahead of print]
PMID: 24973558 [PubMed – as supplied by publisher]

[2] Dissecting the ACLS Guidelines on Cardiac Arrest from Toxic Ingestions
Emergency Medicine News:
October 2011 – Volume 33 – Issue 10 – pp 16-18
doi: 10.1097/01.EEM.0000406945.05619.ca
InFocus
Roberts, James R. MD
Article

Roberts, J. (2011). InFocus: Dissecting the ACLS Guidelines on Cardiac Arrest from Toxic Ingestions Emergency Medicine News, 33 (10), 16-18 DOI: 10.1097/01.EEM.0000406945.05619.ca

Koller, A., Salcido, D., Callaway, C., & Menegazzi, J. (2014). Resuscitation characteristics and outcomes in suspected drug overdose-related out-of-hospital cardiac arrest Resuscitation DOI: 10.1016/j.resuscitation.2014.05.036

.

When is a double dose of defibrillation a good idea?

 
In the comments to Double simultaneous defibrillators for refractory ventricular fibrillation, NCMedic and Ambulance Driver write that they have already begun using variations on double defibrillation.
 

That     is     excellent.

 


 

The changes in when to implement the change, as well as the vector to use, are reasons we need to have people publishing results on what is being done. Please, work with your medical directors and/or others to publish some results.

We have had epinephrine (Adrenaline in Commonwealth countries) in ACLS (Advanced Cardiac Life Support) guidelines, and our protocols, for decades, but we still do not know the best dose or even which patients benefit.

NCMedic writes –
 

Has been in our protocols for sometime now, we are finding it more beneficial sooner than later for obvious reasons, next protocol revision will most likely have it on the 4th shock with the 2nd set of pads placed A/P to cover from a different vector.

 

Epinephrine seems to be harmful when given later, or is epinephrine less beneficial later, or is epinephrine always harmful, just much more harmful later, or something else.[1]

The problem is that we do not know when, or for whom, epinephrine is indicated.

Epinephrine is probably indicated in some patients, but which patients, at what dose, and at what time? If epinephrine should be repeated all of the same questions apply to all further doses. Dr. Scott Weingart points out how little we know about the use of epinephrine, because his approach makes more sense than what ACLS recommends and the evidence is equally lacking.[2]

There are many things in the presentation to discuss, such as Dr. Weingart’s misunderstanding of what nihilism means, but that is for another time.
 

There does not appear to be any harm from double defibrillation. As we use more current more often, we should expect to learn of harms, as we do with almost every intervention. However, as NCMedic states, we may be doing harm by waiting too long to deliver the double dose.

Should it be a double dose?

What about 1 ½ times the maximum?

300 j bi-phasic or 540j mono-phasic or maybe some combination of bi-phasic and mono-phasic, and if a combination, what combination, with drugs or without, which drugs if with drugs, . . . ?

What about 3 times the maximum?

600 joules bi-phasic or 1,080 joules mono-phasic or . . . ?

Should the higher-dose defibrillation be after the fifth shock with a return to VF/pulseless VT (Ventricular Fibrillation/pulseless Ventricular Tachycardia)? After the fourth shock? After the third shock? After the second shock? After the first shock?

Is waiting longer to increase joules making it more likely that epinephrine will be given? Is epinephrine more harmful than a double shock, less harmful than a double shock, or roughly the same?

The amount we do not know is huge.

We should learn what we are doing to our patients and not arrogantly choose to remain ignorant, as we have chosen with epinephrine. That is changing, but some still defend the arrogance of ignorance at the expense of our patients.[3]

Footnotes:

[1] Does Faster Epinephrine Administration Produce Better Outcomes from PEA-Asystole?
Sun, 25 May 2014
Rogue Medic
Article

[2] Podcast 125 – The New Intra-Arrest from SMACCgold
EMCrit
Dr. Scott Weingart
Web page with video and show notes.

[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.

 

.

IAFF’s Jack Reall faces discipline for delaying a 911 call in order to protest research he does not like


 

One of the advantages of fire department-based EMS is that there is a clear chain of command and that discipline is not a problem. The exceptions to this may be rare enough that they make headlines. Here is one.
 

A Columbus Fire battalion chief could face discipline for insubordination after an internal investigation found that he disrupted a pilot program intended to more efficiently respond to emergencies.[1]

 

The first oddity is that the Battalion Chief (Jack Reall) is also the president of Local 67 of the International Association of Fire Fighters. A management position and a union position – and not just any union position, but president. Jack Reall apparently cannot keep his priorities in order.

The fire department is studying whether 911 calls should receive an initial response from one paramedic with a basic EMT or from a pair of paramedics. There is no evidence that sending one paramedic and one EMT causes any kind of harm, or that two paramedics provide better care, so there is no basis to claim that anyone is being in any way endangered by this pilot program.

If there were a legitimate concern, then the time to address that was when the pilot program was being considered. It appears that Jack Reall is not happy with that and his union boss persona delayed a 911 response in violation of fire department rules.
 

The Fire Division launched a pilot program that morning to reduce the number of paramedics who respond to routine calls, allowing the division to disperse medics elsewhere. Instead of two paramedics on a truck, there would be one medic and a basic emergency-medical technician, or EMT.[1]

 

Is it possible that this was a complete surprise to Battalion Chief/Union President Jack Reall?

I don’t know what kind of preparations were made by the fire department, but I suspect that they began well in advance of BC/Pres. Jack Reall’s attempt at sabotage.

It is appropriate to study things when there is a state of equipoise about which is best.

Equipoise is just a fancy word for We do not know which is best.

When we do not know what is best, we should find out, rather than arrogantly assume that we know all that we need to know to force an uninformed opinion on others. That is the alternative – I don’t know, but I am going to force my opinion on everyone else because I am certain my opinion is more important than learning the truth.

Research means we learn more, even if we never learn the whole truth. Opposing research is opposing learning more – especially if the truth disagrees with opinion.

Equipoise means that we cannot be certain, because we do not know enough to be certain.
 

Reall was against the plan from the start and said fewer paramedics meant lower-quality service.[1]

 

The fire department and the union probably have worked out procedures for resolving these differences of opinion. They probably do not include delaying 911 responses to make a point.

If Jack Reall were behaving responsibly, he would have raised these concerns at an appropriate time and place.
 

Reall said the plan was not presented well to firefighters and paramedics and was “not well thought out.”[1]

 

He did raise them at the appropriate time, but he did not get what he wanted.

When I don’t get what I want, as a responsible adult, I should throw a tantrum.

True or False?

A Battalion Chief is supposed to be a person to turn to to resolve confusion, not to create confusion. One part of the job is to make a clear decision (such as to protect the interests of a patient) and to take responsibility for that decision.

It appears that Reall was doing the opposite.

Footnotes:

[1] Firefighters-union chief faces discipline from Fire Division
By Lucas Sullivan
The Columbus Dispatch
Wednesday July 9, 2014 5:51 AM
Article

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The crisis in evidence-based medicine

 
Are there crises in EBM (Evidence-Based Medicine)?

If so, what are the crises and what can we do to make things better?

John wrote this in the comments to We all rely on evidence. The important difference is __________.[1]
 

I wonder what you think about this:

http://theincidentaleconomist.com/wordpress/the-crisis-in-evidence-based-medicine/

 

The article, The crisis in evidence-based medicine,[2] references a BMJ article[3] that I will try to write about soon, since it provides an excellent description of what EBM (Evidence-Based Medicine) is and how EBM is misused.

What many of the opponents of EBM (I am not including Bill Gardner) seem to ignore is that the problems that affect the application of high quality evidence to patient care are even greater with the application of the lowest quality evidence anecdotal experience to patient care. For example, multimorbidity makes it even more difficult to draw conclusions based on anecdotes, than based on evidence prospectively collected in a way that is designed to minimize the complications produced by the many conditions not being studied, while anecdotalists rely on experience, that is more likely to be irrelevant than the research and they rely on their memories. One thing that objective evidence shows us is that our memories are not accurate.[4]

However, Bill Gardner is looking at the ways we can avoid making mistakes with EBM, rather than making excuses for ignoring EBM. I recommend reading the BMJ article first, then going back and reading his article and the other articles at The Incidental Economist on EBM.

There is a weak point in Bill Gardner’s solution, and he is aware of it. At what point does the quality of the data become so low that the massive quantity is not able to provide useful information?

The NTDB® (National Trauma Data Bank®) is a great idea. We objectively collect as much data on as many trauma patients as possible and mine that data for signals that stand out from the noise. I have pointed out some of the problems with the application of this approach several times.[5],[6],[7]

Eventually, we should become much better at acquiring data, but so far we have demonstrated that even data prospectively collected by the experts can be GIGO (Garbage In = Garbage Out). The same is true for EBM. If we use low quality data, we should expect low quality results. Eventually, we should find better ways to filter out the noise, but we are not there, yet.

The Framingham Heart Study[8] is an example of using massive amounts of data to find evidence that several risk factors lead to significantly shorter lives.

As with anything else, the problems are not a reason to abandon hope, but a reason to use caution. We will learn as we go, while the acolytes of anecdotalism will continue to promote misunderstanding and continue to discourage progress.

We need to learn more about how to use science and how not to be misled by science, rather than to abandon science. Here is just a start to learning how not to get fooled by bad science.
 


Image credit. Click on the image for a much larger version (1754×1280).
 

While the perfect is often the enemy of the good, that does not mean that good is not good, or that we should reject anything that is not perfect in favor of the alternative (not good or bad or much worse). It means that we need to keep improving. Science does keep improving.

Footnotes:

[1] We all rely on evidence. The important difference is __________.
Tue, 24 Jun 2014
Rogue Medic
Article

[2] The crisis in evidence-based medicine
June 23, 2014
Bill Gardner
The Incidental Economist
Article

[3] Evidence based medicine: a movement in crisis?
Greenhalgh T, Howick J, Maskrey N; Evidence Based Medicine Renaissance Group.
BMJ. 2014 Jun 13;348:g3725. doi: 10.1136/bmj.g3725. No abstract available.
PMID: 24927763 [PubMed – in process]

Free Full Text from BMJ.

[4] Who you gonna believe, me or you own eyes?
Dr. Mark Crislip
July 12, 2013
Science-Based Medicine
Article

Or listen to the audio version in MP3 format by Dr. Mark Crislip –
121: Who you gonna believe, me or your lying eyes

[5] Correction to Spine Immobilization in Penetrating Trauma: More Harm Than Good
Tue, 15 Mar 2011
Rogue Medic
Article

[6] Prehospital Intravenous Fluid Administration is Associated With Higher Mortality in Trauma Patients – Part III
Tue, 01 Mar 2011
Rogue Medic
Article

[7] Flawed Helicopter EMS vs Ground EMS Research – Part II
Thu, 19 Apr 2012
Rogue Medic
Article

[8] Framingham Heart Study
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