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

- Rogue Medic

What Treatments May Be De-Emphasized by EM/EMS in 2019? Part I

 

EM (Emergency Medicine) and EMS (Emergency Medical Services) have already started to eliminate/decrease use of a lot of our failed treatments, because people started to see through our excuses. Atropine for asystole stuck around for a long time, then just vanished.[1]. Calcium for cardiac arrest is also something that used to be standard of care, then we raised our standards.

We need to keep raising our standards, because our patients’ outcomes – their lives, their brains, their everything – depend on raising our standards.

We used to give antiarrhythmics to almost anyone with a cardiac complaint. Then there was CAST (The Cardiac Arrhythmia Suppression Trial[2]). While CAST did not study lidocaine, it did study longer term use of antiarrhythmics. Lidocaine is too dangerous for long term use, so the results of CAST may be much worse for lidocaine. We thought that the increased deaths among patients with frequent PVCs (Premature Ventricular Contractions) after having a heart attack was due to a problem with the conduction system. PVCs indicate a problem with conduction and antiarrhythmics cause the PVCs to go away.
 

Before receiving the antiarrhythmic (PVCs are circled in red).


 

After receiving the antiarrhythmic.


 

Problem solved.

Now the problem is, How do we get paid more? These drugs were the biggest selling drugs at the time. They making the drug companies a fortune. Whichever company made the drug that saved the most lives would make a lot more money then the others. Provide evidence that ______ saves more lives than all of the others.

The problem of the PVCs was solved, but the solution was killing many more patients than not giving drugs.

The result was not celebrated by the drug companies. The patients taking antiarrhythmics were dying at three times the rate of the patients taking placebos. A plausible physiological mechanism suggested the drugs would save lives, but that was based on an assumption that was not justified. This is the kind of reasoning that appeals to those who reject EBM (Evidence-Based Medicine). The evidence should convince these EBM opponents of the folly of relying on physiology and on a plausible explanation to justify not looking for the evidence that might expose their unreasonable assumptions. These otherwise reasonable people start making excuses for unreasonable assumptions, because they believe. They seem to need to convince others to join in and multiply their mistakes.[3]

The PVCs appear to have been just an indicator of an unhealthy heart.

Getting rid of the PVCs may have made the conduction in the heart less healthy.

Giving the drugs may have killed tens of thousands of patients.

Antiarrhythmic use decreased dramatically after the harm demonstrated in CAST, but some drug pushers are trying to get one of the worst antiarrhythmics (amiodarone, now in a new formula) to make a comeback, by creatively spinning research to claim results the research was never designed to evaluate.

Not having learned from the evidence, even though he has been the lead author on some of it, Dr. Peter Kudenchuk has been claiming that in EMS witnessed arrests, there was a significant improvement, even though his own published results contradict this claim. Here is what the results actually state:
 

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.[4]

 

Amiodarone has also been shown to be horrible for patients with ventricular tachycardia with a pulse. Amiodarone is so ineffective, that the rate of severe side effects is greater than the rate of improved outcomes. Amiodarone is more likely to make your patient’s medical condition much worse, but it is still considered to be the standard of care and amiodarone is still in EMS protocols.[5]

Maybe amiodarone can produce better results if it is used for execution by lethal injection.

I am expecting that there will be more failed treatments removed from our standards of care.

We need to raise our standards to improve outcomes, not lower our standards to make us look better than we are.

Continued in Part II. I will add Part III and others at some point and provide the links here.

Footnotes:

[1] Why Did We Remove Atropine From ACLS?
Rogue Medic

Part I
Sun, 13 Oct 2013

Part II
Wed, 16 Oct 2013

[2] Mortality and morbidity in patients receiving encainide, flecainide, or placebo. The Cardiac Arrhythmia Suppression Trial.
Echt DS, Liebson PR, Mitchell LB, Peters RW, Obias-Manno D, Barker AH, Arensberg D, Baker A, Friedman L, Greene HL, et al.
N Engl J Med. 1991 Mar 21;324(12):781-8.
PMID: 1900101 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

Free Full Text from NEJM.
 

CONCLUSIONS. There was an excess of deaths due to arrhythmia and deaths due to shock after acute recurrent myocardial infarction in patients treated with encainide or flecainide. Nonlethal events, however, were equally distributed between the active-drug and placebo groups. The mechanisms underlying the excess mortality during treatment with encainide or flecainide remain unknown.

[3] Why US EMS will never get to sit at the adult table – The Appeal to Authority
Sun, 04 May 2014
Rogue Medic
Article

Since Mike cites the original parachute study, as if it is not satire, it is amusing to point out that there is a new Parachute Study! Read Dr. Radecki’s description of this satirical poke at those who do not understand research in the satire issue of the BMJ, which they put out every Christmas as sort of a British IgNobel.

Don’t Bother With the Parachute!
Emergency Medicine Literature of Note
Dr. Ryan Radecki
December 21, 2018
Article
 

Parachute use to prevent death and major trauma when jumping from aircraft: randomized controlled trial.
Yeh RW, Valsdottir LR, Yeh MW, Shen C, Kramer DB, Strom JB, Secemsky EA, Healy JL, Domeier RM, Kazi DS, Nallamothu BK; PARACHUTE Investigators.
BMJ. 2018 Dec 13;363:k5094. doi: 10.1136/bmj.k5094. Erratum in: BMJ. 2018 Dec 18;363:k5343.
PMID: 30545967

Free Full Text from BMJ.

[4] 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. Epub 2016 Apr 4.
PMID: 27043165

Free Full Text from NEJM.

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.

 

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

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

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

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

Free Full Text from European Heart Journal.
 

Amiodarone or procainamide for the termination of sustained stable ventricular tachycardia: an historical multicenter comparison.
Marill KA, deSouza IS, Nishijima DK, Senecal EL, Setnik GS, Stair TO, Ruskin JN, Ellinor PT.
Acad Emerg Med. 2010 Mar;17(3):297-306.
PMID: 20370763 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

Free Full Text from Academic Emergency Medicine.
 

Amiodarone is poorly effective for the acute termination of ventricular tachycardia.
Marill KA, deSouza IS, Nishijima DK, Stair TO, Setnik GS, Ruskin JN.
Ann Emerg Med. 2006 Mar;47(3):217-24. Epub 2005 Nov 21.
PMID: 16492484 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]
 

Intravenous amiodarone for the pharmacological termination of haemodynamically-tolerated sustained ventricular tachycardia: is bolus dose amiodarone an appropriate first-line treatment?
Tomlinson DR, Cherian P, Betts TR, Bashir Y.
Emerg Med J. 2008 Jan;25(1):15-8.
PMID: 18156531 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]
 

Effects of intravenous amiodarone on ventricular refractoriness, intraventricular conduction, and ventricular tachycardia induction.
Kułakowski P, Karczmarewicz S, Karpiński G, Soszyńska M, Ceremuzyński L.
Europace. 2000 Jul;2(3):207-15.
PMID: 11227590 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

Free Full Text PDF + HTML from Europace
 

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

Low doses of intravenous epinephrine for refractory sustained monomorphic ventricular tachycardia.
Bonny A, De Sisti A, Márquez MF, Megbemado R, Hidden-Lucet F, Fontaine G.
World J Cardiol. 2012 Oct 26;4(10):296-301. doi: 10.4330/wjc.v4.i10.296.
PMID: 23110246 [PubMed]

Free Full Text from PubMed Central.

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The Grinch Who Stole Reality

 

And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so?

It came without ribbons epi.

It came without tags amio.

It came without packages oxygen, boxes tubes or bags.

And he puzzled and puzzled ’till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before.

Maybe Christmas living, he thought…doesn’t come from a store drug.

Maybe Christmas living, perhaps…means a little bit more!

 

With apologies to Dr. Seuss (Theodore Geisel) for the modification of his parable.

There are important differences between the minimal criteria for life and the criteria for a meaningful life. Many of us don’t like to think about that, because many of us don’t like thinking. Thinking can be hard. Making excuses for not thinking – priceless (at least, as long as you don’t think about it).

We have been focusing on the least honest way of reporting outcomes – a pulse – Oooh!, or maybe even 30 days of a pulse – Oood-Ahhh! After all, reality does not support continuing to do what we have been doing. If we admit that we have been causing harm, then we may have to take responsibility for our actions.

We do not want to take responsibility for our actions. We were only following orders.

Doctors, PAs (Physician Assistants), NPs (Nurse Practitioners), nurses, paramedics, EMTs, techs, . . . do not want to take responsibility for what we get paid for. Accountability is for people who think – not for us.

We have blamed science/evidence for requiring that we confront reality. As explained by Dr. Seuss, we want simple answers that do not require understanding. Give us algorithms to mindlessly follow. Give us mnemonics.

We have been giving epinephrine (adrenaline in Commonwealth countries) for over half a century with no evidence of safety or improvement in the outcome that matters most.

Why?

We haven’t wanted to know.

The first study to look at the effect of placebo vs. epinephrine on neurological survival was cut short – with only a tiny fraction of what would be needed to produce any kind of statistically useful information, except for some of the true believers, who made the same kinds of mistakes that have been made for other discarded treatments – treatments discarded due to failure to work, discarded due to harm, or discarded due to both.

Don’t study this. Just believe. Belief makes us feel good. Attack science for encouraging understanding.
 

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.[1]

 

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.[1]

 

What was the conclusion produced by the Jacobs study?
 

CONCLUSION: Patients receiving adrenaline during cardiac arrest had no statistically significant improvement in the primary outcome of survival to hospital discharge although there was a significantly improved likelihood of achieving ROSC.[1]

 

As the homeopaths put their spin on studies that do not really support their claims, people who do not understand science put similar spin on the results of this. For example, if you take a Bayesian approach[2], but distort it to mean that you give extra weight to everything that supports your belief and take away credit from everything else, you can claim that this is an example of science proving that epinephrine works.

Another way of doing this is to claim that you don’t give the 1 mg dose of epinephrine, therefore the study does not apply to your patients. After all, you are just engaging in a poorly documented, unapproved study, which allows you to think of the survivors as examples of the drug working and make excuses for the rest. Of course, if you don’t give the 1 mg dose of epinephrine, is there any evidence that your treatment is safe or effective? No.

Rather than insisting that this method of dosing patients be studied, in order to determine if it really is safe or if it really is effective at anything other than getting a pulse in a brain-dead body, claim to be ahead of the science.

Why find out what is really best for the patients, when there are so many ways of declaring victory and running away?

In 2018, we had the results of the next study of placebo vs. adrenaline (epinephrine in non-Commonwealth countries, but only Commonwealth countries have bothered to do the research). The conclusion was the same as the conclusion for the only previous study.
 

CONCLUSIONS: In adults with out-of-hospital cardiac arrest, the use of epinephrine resulted in a significantly higher rate of 30-day survival than the use of placebo, but there was no significant between-group difference in the rate of a favorable neurologic outcome because more survivors had severe neurologic impairment in the epinephrine group.[3]

 

Has anyone else stated that the use of epinephrine should be limited to controlled trials?

Not that I know of.

Everyone else seems to be claiming that giving smaller boluses of epinephrine. or giving titrated infusions of epinephrine is different. Some claim that it is nihilism to refuse to believe in their slightly different treatment – at least until there is undeniable evidence of lack of benefit, or undeniable evidence of harm, or both.

Requiring evidence of benefit, before using a treatment on a patient is being reasonable.

Using inadequately studied treatments on people when they are at their most vulnerable is not good medicine.

A doctor’s oath to Apollo does not include a requirement to perpetuate dogma, but medicine is only slowly starting to focus on what is best for patients, rather than what is best for appearances.

Dr. Ryan Jacobsen addressed a similar dogma, when he got rid of the long spine board in the system where he was medical director. His description of the evidence applies to epinephrine (bolus, mini-bolus, infusion, patch, inhaler, down the tube, oral, whatever) –

Other than historical dogma and institutional EMS medical culture we can find no evidence-based reason to continue to use the Long Spine board epinephrine as it currently exists in practice today.[4]

I changed EMS to medical and the Long Spine board to epinephrine.

We have good evidence that if your loved one is a laboratory pig, rat, dog, . . . we can kill them and get them back neurologically intact with epinephrine – and with other treatments that have been discarded because they do not have the same effect on humans as on lab animals.

Let us treat your loved ones like the lab animals we think they are.

Don’t use EBM (Evidence-Based Medicine), because belief is more important than reality.

The world is a comedy to those that think; a tragedy to those that feel. – Horace Walpole.

Keep thinking. Keep demanding evidence. After the nonsense being preached by the believers is exposed, we can improve the outcomes for our patients, because medicine is about doing what is best for the patient, and not about protecting the dogma.

Footnotes:

[1] 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. doi: 10.1016/j.resuscitation.2011.06.029. Epub 2011 Jul 2.
PMID: 21745533

Free Full Text PDF Download from semanticscholar.org

[2] Bayesian inference
Wikipedia
Article

[3] 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 Aug 23;379(8):711-721. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa1806842. Epub 2018 Jul 18.
PMID: 30021076

[4] Johnson County EMS System Spinal Restriction Protocol 2014
Ryan C. Jacobsen MD, EMT-P, Johnson County EMS System Medical Director
Jacob Ruthsrom MD, Deputy EMS Medical Director
Theodore Barnett MD, Chair, Johnson County Medical Society EMS Physicians Committee
Johnson County EMS System Spinal Restriction Protocol 2014 in PDF format.

.

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

.

Is placebo better than aggressive medical treatment for patients NOT having a heart attack?

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

Is cardiac catheterization placebo better than aggressive medical treatment for patients not having a heart attack?

No.
 

The answer is not really different from before. This should not be surprising for anyone who pays attention to EBM (Evidence-Based Medicine). We should all pay attention to EBM, because it is the best way to find out what works.

Many routine treatments are not beneficial to patients, but are considered to be standards of care. We continue to give these treatments out of unreasonable optimism, a fear of litigation, or fear of criticism for not following orders. The difference between the banality of evil and the banality of incompetence does not appear to be significant in any way that matters.

PCI (Percutaneous Coronary Intervention) treatment does not add any benefit – unless you are having a heart attack.

The placebo group received sham PCI in addition to optimized medical treatment. this did not provide any benefit over actual PCI in addition to optimized medical treatment. The patients in the placebo group received all of the same medications that the patients in the PCI group received.

Why is this news today?

A recent article in The Lancet is encouraging snake oil salesmen and snake oil saleswomen to claim that it shows the miracle healing power of placebos, but this is not true.

Apparently, Big Placebo (the multi-billion dollar alternative medicine industry) is trying to use this to promote their scams (homeopathy, acupuncture, Reiki, naturopathy, prayer, . . . ).

Big Placebo seems to think that this study shows that placebo is better than medical treatment. A placebo is an inactive intervention that is undetectable when compared with the active treatment. The placebo group received the same aggressive medications that the treatment group received.
 

All patients were pretreated with dual antiplatelet therapy. In both groups, the duration of dual antiplatelet therapy was the same and continued until the fial (unblinding) visit. Coronary angiography was done via a radial or femoral arterial approach with auditory isolation achieved by placing over-the-ear headphones playing music on the patient throughout the procedure.[1]

 

What is new about this?

A much larger study a decade ago showed that aggressive medical therapy was as good as PCI and aggressive medical therapy. The difference is the use of sham PCI to create a placebo group for comparison, rather than using a No PCI group for comparison.
 

CONCLUSIONS:
As an initial management strategy in patients with stable coronary artery disease, PCI did not reduce the risk of death, myocardial infarction, or other major cardiovascular events when added to optimal medical therapy.
[2]

 

Compare that with the conclusion (interpretation) of the new paper.
 

INTERPRETATION:
In patients with medically treated angina and severe coronary stenosis, PCI did not increase exercise time by more than the effect of a placebo procedure. The efficacy of invasive procedures can be assessed with a placebo control, as is standard for pharmacotherapy.
[1]

 

The unfortunate outcome is that we will have fewer hospitals providing PCI, so patients with heart attacks (STEMI – ST segment Elevation Myocardial Infarctions) may have to wait longer for emergency PCI, which really does improve outcomes.
 

What other Standards Of Care are NOT supported by valid evidence?

Amiodarone is effective for cardiac arrest, whether unwitnessed, witnessed, or witnessed by EMS.

Kayexalate (Sodium Polystyrene) is a good treatment for hyperkalemia. Anything that causes diarrhea will lower your potassium level, but that does not make it a good treatment, unless you are in an austere environment (in other words – not in a real hospital).

Amiodarone is effective for VT (Ventricular Tachycardia).

Backboards are effective to protect against spinal injury while transporting patients.

Blood-letting is effective for anything except hemochromatosis (and some rare disorders).

More paramedics are better for the patient.

Prehospital intravenous lines save lives.

IV fluid saves lives in hemorrhagic shock.

Oxygen should be given to everyone having a heart attack.

The Golden Hour is important.

Driving fast saves lives. For only some rare conditions, it probably does – and that depends on traffic.

Flying people to the hospital saves lives. Again, for only some rare conditions, it probably does – and that depends on traffic and distance.

Tourniquets are dangerous. As with anything else, if used inappropriately, they are dangerous, but tourniquets save lives.

Prehospital intubation saves lives.

Ventilation in cardiac arrest improves outcomes (other than for respiratory causes of cardiac arrest, which are easy to identify).

Epinephrine improves outcomes in cardiac arrest. It does produce a pulse more often, but at what cost to the long-term survival of the patient and the patient’s brain? PARAMEDIC2 should help us to identify which patients benefit from epinephrine, since it is clear that many patients are harmed by epinephrine in cardiac arrest. If we limit treatment to patients reasonably expected to benefit from the treatment, we can improve long-term survival.

And there are many more.

Footnotes:

[1] Percutaneous coronary intervention in stable angina (ORBITA): a double-blind, randomised controlled trial.
Al-Lamee R, Thompson D, Dehbi HM, Sen S, Tang K, Davies J, Keeble T, Mielewczik M, Kaprielian R, Malik IS, Nijjer SS, Petraco R, Cook C, Ahmad Y, Howard J, Baker C, Sharp A, Gerber R, Talwar S, Assomull R, Mayet J, Wensel R, Collier D, Shun-Shin M, Thom SA, Davies JE, Francis DP; ORBITA investigators.
Lancet. 2017 Nov 1. pii: S0140-6736(17)32714-9. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(17)32714-9. [Epub ahead of print]
PMID: 29103656

[2] Optimal medical therapy with or without PCI for stable coronary disease.
Boden WE, O’Rourke RA, Teo KK, Hartigan PM, Maron DJ, Kostuk WJ, Knudtson M, Dada M, Casperson P, Harris CL, Chaitman BR, Shaw L, Gosselin G, Nawaz S, Title LM, Gau G, Blaustein AS, Booth DC, Bates ER, Spertus JA, Berman DS, Mancini GB, Weintraub WS; COURAGE Trial Research Group.
N Engl J Med. 2007 Apr 12;356(15):1503-16. Epub 2007 Mar 26.
PMID: 17387127

Free Full Text from N Engl J Med.

.

Have a Slow, Quiet Friday the Thirteenth

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

 

Superstitious appears to be common among medical people, so this may be seen as offensive. If you doubt me, comment that it is slow or quiet and see how many respond negatively, while they do not receive any criticism for their superstition-based complaints. Rather, people will make excuses for coddling the superstitions of those who are entrusted with the lives of patients.

The evidence does not support their superstitions.

One study did appear to show that women die in motor vehicle collisions more often on Friday the 13th, but that appears to be due to a lack of understanding of statistics by many who cite the article.
 

An additional factor is anxiolytic medication, used by significantly more women than men in Finland (7), which has been reported to reduce attention span and worsen driving performance (8). . . . Why this phenomenon exists in women but not in men remains unknown, but perhaps the twice-as-high prevalence of neurotic disorders and anxiety symptoms in women (7) makes them more susceptible to superstition and worsening of driving performance.[1]

 

The author suspects that those people with conditions that could be diagnosed as neuroses or anxiety disorders may be disproportionately affected by superstition.

In other words, superstition is not an external force affecting you. You are doing it to yourself.

The sample size was national, but still small, and was not able to adjust for many possible confounding variables, so the study would need to be replicated using a much larger data base to be useful.

In other superstition news – the next apocalypse, in a long line of predicted apocalypses, is going to be this Sunday – the 15 of October, 2017, according to David Meade. Meade twice previously predicted that a magical planet would hit the Earth and kill us all. This time he claims that his calculations are accurate, because that was the problem with his previous calculations – inaccuracy, not that they were a superstition deserving of derision.

If you are superstitious, and feel that your neuroses/anxieties will cause you to harm others, or yourself, you may want to stay home today and Sunday – perhaps even until you are capable of grasping reality.

Of course, we would never base treatment on superstition in medicine.

Amiodarone is the go to antiarrhythmic drug for cardiac arrest and ventricular tachycardia, but there are much safer much more effective drugs available. We have our own prophets misrepresenting research results to make it seem that using amiodarone for these is a good idea. The research says these preachers are wrong. The next guidelines will probably promote the superstition and reject the science.[2],[3]

Ventilation during cardiac arrest has been shown to be a good idea only for patients who arrested for respiratory reasons. We do a great job of identifying these patients. We have our own prophets misrepresenting research results to make it seem that providing ventilations for these is a good idea. The research says these preachers are wrong. The next guidelines will probably promote the superstition and reject the science.[4]

Medicine is full of superstition and superstitious people.

Why?

Too many of us believe the lie that, I’ve seen it work.

I have also written about the superstition of Friday the 13th here –

Acute coronary syndrome on Friday the 13th: a case for re-organising services? – Fri, 13 Jan 2017

The Magical Nonsense of Friday the 13th – Fri, 13 May 2016

Happy Friday the 13th – New and Improved with Space Debris – Fri, 13 Nov 2015

Friday the 13th and full-moon – the ‘worst case scenario’ or only superstition? – Fri, 13 Jun 2014

Blue Moon 2012 – Except parts of Oceanea – Fri, 31 Aug 2012

2009’s Top Threat To Science In Medicine – Fri, 01 Jan 2010

T G I Friday the 13th – Fri, 13 Nov 2009

Happy Equinox! – Thu, 20 Mar 2008

Footnotes:

[1] Traffic deaths and superstition on Friday the 13th.
Näyhä S.
Am J Psychiatry. 2002 Dec;159(12):2110-1.
PMID: 12450968

Free Full Text from Am J Psychiatry.

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

There are a dozen links to the research in the footnotes to that article. There are also links to other articles on the failure of amiodarone to live up to its hype.

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

[4] Cardiac Arrest Management is an EMT-Basic Skill – The Hands Only Evidence
Fri, 09 Dec 2011
Rogue Medic
Article

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Acupuncture vs intravenous morphine in the management of acute pain in the ED

ResearchBlogging.org
 

What does elaborate placebo mean?

An elaborate placebo is a placebo that does better than a pill, or injection, apparently because the patient has more invested in the belief the placebo will work. An injection of a placebo (saline solution) may be more effective than a pill of real pain medicine because of the ceremony involved in giving the placebo through IV (IntraVenous) access. A placebo that is more expensive tends to have more of an effect than a less expensive placebo.[1],[2]

Acupuncture requires a lot of investment on the part of the patient. A more elaborate placebo might be fire walking. I don’t know of any research on fire walking as a treatment for pain, but I would not be surprised if it is extremely effective.
 

fire walking 1
Image credit. Do not try at home.
 

We know that acupuncture is just a placebo because research shows that sham (fake/placebo) acupuncture works just as well as real acupuncture. Sham acupuncture generally means using toothpicks (rather than needles), not penetrating the skin, but always using locations that are not qi points.[3],[4] There is also a study using fake needles at the qi points.[5] *

If the essence of acupuncture is the magic of the qi points, but the same effect is produced when staying away from the qi points, the qi points are not doing anything.

This study did not use a sham acupuncture group. We have no reason to expect real acupuncture to provide more pain relief than sham acupuncture, so how should we use this information?

Should we have people providing fake acupuncture in the ED (Emergency Department)?

If so, how should we do this?

Since it is not the acupuncture, but the patient’s reaction to the ceremony of the placebo that appears to be providing the pain relief, how many different ways might we vary the treatment to improve the placebo effect?

Should we set up a fire walking pit?

What are the ethical concerns of using placebo medicine, when the placebo appears to provide similar, but safer, relief than real medicine?

What are the ethical concerns of using deception to treat patients?
 

Acupuncture versus intravenous morphine in the management of acute pain in the emergency department 1 with caption
 

Overall, 89 patients (29.3%) experienced minor adverse effects: 85 (56.6%) in morphine group and 4 (2.6%) in acupuncture group; the difference was signi ficant between the 2 groups (Table 3). The most frequent adverse effect was dizziness in the morphine group (42%) and needle breakage in the acupuncture group (2%). No major adverse effect was recorded during the study protocol. (See Table 4.)[6]

 

If we ignore the problems with this study and with the problem of lying to patients to make them feel better, can we expect research journals to look more like alternative medicine magazines with article titles like –

How to lie to patients, so that . . . .

What is the best scam to relieve pain?

How much integrity do we sacrifice?

Since the ED does not appear to be the source of the increase in opioid addiction, should we sacrifice any integrity in pursuit of placebo treatments?

We have an epidemic of opioid addiction because of excessive prescriptions for long-term pain.

The answer is not to try to create an epidemic of magical thinking.
 

This paper was also covered by –

Emergency Medicine Literature of Note

NEJM Journal Watch Emergency Medicine

Life in the Fast Lane

Science-Based Medicine

And thank you to Dr. Ryan Radecki of Emergency Medicine Literature of Note for providing me with a copy of the paper.

Footnotes:

[1] Placebo effect of medication cost in Parkinson disease: a randomized double-blind study.
Espay AJ, Norris MM, Eliassen JC, Dwivedi A, Smith MS, Banks C, Allendorfer JB, Lang AE, Fleck DE, Linke MJ, Szaflarski JP.
Neurology. 2015 Feb 24;84(8):794-802. doi: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000001282. Epub 2015 Jan 28.
PMID: 25632091

Free Full Text from PubMed Central
 

CONCLUSION: Expensive placebo significantly improved motor function and decreased brain activation in a direction and magnitude comparable to, albeit less than, levodopa. Perceptions of cost are capable of altering the placebo response in clinical studies.

[2] Commercial features of placebo and therapeutic efficacy.
Waber RL, Shiv B, Carmon Z, Ariely D.
JAMA. 2008 Mar 5;299(9):1016-7. doi: 10.1001/jama.299.9.1016. No abstract available.
PMID: 18319411

Free Full Text in PDF format from Duke.edu
 

These results are consistent with described phenomena of commercial variables affecting quality expectations1 and expectations influencing therapeutic efficacy.4 Placebo responses to commercial features have many potential clinical implications. For example, they may help explain the popularity of high-cost medical therapies (eg, cyclooxygenase 2 inhibitors) over inexpensive, widely available alternatives (eg, over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) and why patients switching from branded medications may report that their generic equivalents are less effective.

[3] Acupuncture for Menopausal Hot Flashes: A Randomized Trial.
Ee C, Xue C, Chondros P, Myers SP, French SD, Teede H, Pirotta M.
Ann Intern Med. 2016 Feb 2;164(3):146-54. doi: 10.7326/M15-1380. Epub 2016 Jan 19.
PMID: 26784863

Free Full Text in PDF format from carolinashealthcare.org

 

CONCLUSION: Chinese medicine acupuncture was not superior to noninsertive sham acupuncture for women with moderately severe menopausal HFs.

 

[4] A randomized trial comparing acupuncture, simulated acupuncture, and usual care for chronic low back pain.
Cherkin DC, Sherman KJ, Avins AL, Erro JH, Ichikawa L, Barlow WE, Delaney K, Hawkes R, Hamilton L, Pressman A, Khalsa PS, Deyo RA.
Arch Intern Med. 2009 May 11;169(9):858-66. doi: 10.1001/archinternmed.2009.65.
PMID: 19433697

Free Full Text from PubMed Central
 

In conclusion, acupuncture-like treatments significantly improved function in persons with chronic low back pain. However, the finding that benefits of real acupuncture needling were no greater than those of non-insertive stimulation raises questions about acupuncture’s purported mechanism of action.

 

[5] Acupuncture for treatment of persistent arm pain due to repetitive use: a randomized controlled clinical trial.
Goldman RH, Stason WB, Park SK, Kim R, Schnyer RN, Davis RB, Legedza AT, Kaptchuk TJ.
Clin J Pain. 2008 Mar-Apr;24(3):211-8.
PMID: 18287826

* Correction 01-08-2019 – I was wrong to include this study in those that used fake qi points. In this study real acupuncture sites were used, but not real needles, so this study only examined the justification for using needles, not the effect of the locations. The other studies[3],[4] did use fake acupuncture locations and did show that the location also does not matter.

In a twist that the acupuncturist cannot explain, the patients outcomes were significantly better in the group that did not use real needles.
 

The sham group improved significantly more than the true acupuncture group during the treatment period, but this advantage was not sustained 1 month after treatment ended. The difference in pain between sham and true acupuncture groups at the end of treatment (0.75 points on 10-point scale), although statistically significant, probably does not represent a clinically discernible difference.

 

[6] Acupuncture vs intravenous morphine in the management of acute pain in the ED.
Grissa MH, Baccouche H, Boubaker H, Beltaief K, Bzeouich N, Fredj N, Msolli MA, Boukef R, Bouida W, Nouira S.
Am J Emerg Med. 2016 Jul 20. pii: S0735-6757(16)30422-3. doi: 10.1016/j.ajem.2016.07.028. [Epub ahead of print]
PMID: 27475042

ClinicalTrials.gov page for this study.

Grissa, M., Baccouche, H., Boubaker, H., Beltaief, K., Bzeouich, N., Fredj, N., Msolli, M., Boukef, R., Bouida, W., & Nouira, S. (2016). Acupuncture vs intravenous morphine in the management of acute pain in the ED The American Journal of Emergency Medicine DOI: 10.1016/j.ajem.2016.07.028

Espay, A., Norris, M., Eliassen, J., Dwivedi, A., Smith, M., Banks, C., Allendorfer, J., Lang, A., Fleck, D., Linke, M., & Szaflarski, J. (2015). Placebo effect of medication cost in Parkinson disease: A randomized double-blind study Neurology, 84 (8), 794-802 DOI: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000001282

Waber RL, Shiv B, Carmon Z, Ariely D. (2008). Commercial Features of Placebo and Therapeutic Efficacy JAMA, 299 (9) DOI: 10.1001/jama.299.9.1016

Ee, C., Xue, C., Chondros, P., Myers, S., French, S., Teede, H., & Pirotta, M. (2016). Acupuncture for Menopausal Hot Flashes Annals of Internal Medicine, 164 (3) DOI: 10.7326/M15-1380

Cherkin, D., Sherman, K., Avins, A., Erro, J., Ichikawa, L., Barlow, W., Delaney, K., Hawkes, R., Hamilton, L., Pressman, A., Khalsa, P., & Deyo, R. (2009). A Randomized Trial Comparing Acupuncture, Simulated Acupuncture, and Usual Care for Chronic Low Back Pain Archives of Internal Medicine, 169 (9) DOI: 10.1001/archinternmed.2009.65

Goldman, R., Stason, W., Park, S., Kim, R., Schnyer, R., Davis, R., Legedza, A., & Kaptchuk, T. (2008). Acupuncture for Treatment of Persistent Arm Pain Due to Repetitive Use The Clinical Journal of Pain, 24 (3), 211-218 DOI: 10.1097/AJP.0b013e31815ec20f

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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

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Natural Alternatives to the EpiPen, Because We Believe in Parachutes

 

The evidence for epinephrine (Adrenaline in Commonwealth countries) in anaphylaxis is not the highest quality available, but that does not mean that the use of epinephrine to treat anaphylaxis is not EBM (Evidence Based Medicine).
 

Evidence Pyramid

Evidence Pyramid


Image credit.
 

The patients are not randomized to placebo vs. epinephrine treatments, but EBM is not limited to placebo studies[1] – unless you believe that the Parachute Study is valid evidence, rather than just satire.[2]

It is entirely appropriate to use logical fallacy for satire, since humor is not expected to be based on valid evidence. It is definitely not appropriate to use logical fallacy as scientific evidence. Logic is essential to science, while logical fallacy and the avoidance of rational analysis are essential to deception.

What does the Parachute study have to do with Natural Alternatives to Epipen?[3] The evidence supporting epinephrine is even weaker than the evidence supporting parachutes, since one of the advantages of parachutes is that their use can be adequately studied without using human subjects. Therefore we actually have excellent evidence that parachutes will deploy as expected (with the obvious error bars that apply to valid science), will slow the descent (again, with the obvious error bars that apply to valid science), et cetera.
 

Even the most dimwitted purveyor of “natural” cures should know that and stay away from “natural” treatments for anaphylaxis, while the smarter snake oil salesmen also know that you can’t afford to mess around with a medical condition that can cause such rapid deterioration from seemingly perfectly health to dead. It’s not good for business.[4]

 

Ignoring the pathetic absence of evidence for alternative medicine, what is the evidence that epinephrine does improve outcomes?

There is an excellent discussion of the evidence in an article available for free at PubMed Central.
 

International guidelines concur that epinephrine (adrenaline) is the medication of first choice in anaphylaxis because it is the only medication that reduces hospitalization and death.[5]

 

There is no reduction of hospitalization and death with Benadryl (diphenhydramine), with any of the steroids, or with any alternative medicine. Go read the full paper.

Also, go read the analysis of the problems in the article advocating the use of Natural Alternatives to Epipen at Respectful Insolence.

Footnotes:

[1] Evidence based medicine: what it is and what it isn’t.
Sackett DL, Rosenberg WM, Gray JA, Haynes RB, Richardson WS.
BMJ. 1996 Jan 13;312(7023):71-2.
PMID: 8555924 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

Free Full Text from PubMed Central.
 

Evidence based medicine is the conscientious, explicit, and judicious use of current best evidence in making decisions about the care of individual patients. The practice of evidence based medicine means integrating individual clinical expertise with the best available external clinical evidence from systematic research.

 

Maybe the opponents of Evidence Based Medicine do not understand that using judgment to apply the best evidence to the patient is essential to EBM.

[2] Parachute use to prevent death and major trauma related to gravitational challenge: systematic review of randomised controlled trials.
Smith GC, Pell JP.
BMJ. 2003 Dec 20;327(7429):1459-61. Review.
PMID: 14684649 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

Free Full Text from PubMed Central.

The authors searched the literature for parachute research, but eliminated all studies without control groups, which suggests that EBM has some sort of requirement that all research include a control group. That is one of the logical fallacies employed by the authors for humorous intent.
 

We excluded studies that had no control group.

 

Those who cite the parachute study as valid evidence do not seem to understand this sleight of hand. EBM does not exclude studies that have no control group. EBM even includes expert opinion.

[3] Natural Alternatives to Epipen
Gazette Review
Dec 18, 2015
Adam Trent
Cached article

[4] Worst idea ever: “Natural” alternatives to the Epipen
Respectful Insolence
Posted by Orac
December 22, 2015
Article

[5] 2015 update of the evidence base: World Allergy Organization anaphylaxis guidelines.
Simons FE, Ebisawa M, Sanchez-Borges M, Thong BY, Worm M, Tanno LK, Lockey RF, El-Gamal YM, Brown SG, Park HS, Sheikh A.
World Allergy Organ J. 2015 Oct 28;8(1):32. doi: 10.1186/s40413-015-0080-1. eCollection 2015.
PMID: 26525001

Free Full Text from PubMed Central.

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