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

- Rogue Medic

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],[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 aren’t 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

[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

[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

[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

[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 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

[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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Benzodiazepines are often misused – Part I

 
The most commonly used benzodiazepines in EMS/EM (Emergency Medical Services/Emergency Medicine) are diazepam (Valium), lorazepam (Ativan), and midazolam (Versed). It should be relatively easy to look at the best research and determine –

1. Should benzodiazepines be the first parenteral medication given for seizures?

2. Should benzodiazepines be the first parenteral medication given for agitated delirium/excited delirium (it is a real condition that results in death in custody much more often than intentional police misbehavior)?

3. Should benzodiazepines be the first parenteral medication given for sedation?

In EMS/EM, some of the important things to consider are the time it takes for the drug to take effect, the likelihood that the drug will produce the desired effect, the seriousness of adverse effects and rate at which the most serious adverse effects occur.

Seizures

Is there any evidence that anything works quicker than IM (IntraMuscular) midazolam, when the patient does not already have an IV (IntraVenous line)?

Is there any evidence that an initial dose of 10 mg IM midazolam is too high of an initial dose for an adult (over 40 kg) or that 5 mg is too high of an initial dose for a child (40 kg or less)?

Is there any evidence that this dosing increases the rate of airway compromise above what would occur with lower doses?

The Rampart study[1] strongly suggests that 10 mg of IM midazolam is the best approach for the seizing patient who does not already have an IV, when IM midazolam is available. If midazolam is not available, such as due to poorly written protocols, midazolam is not an option and delaying less effective care to wait for the ideal treatment would be reckless.

There do not appear to be any studies that show any better outcomes with any other benzodiazepoines or with any other doses.
 

What about when an IV is already in place?

Should IV midazolam be used?

Should IV lorazepam be used?

Should IV diazepam be used?

Should some other drug be used?

The evidence is not clear, but is there any reason to believe that lorazepam, or diazepam, works as quickly as midazolam, when given intravenously?

Is there any reason to believe that lorazepam, or diazepam, produce fewer, or less serious, adverse effects than midazolam, when given IV?

I don’t know of any valid evidence to suggest that midazolam is inferior to either diazepam or lorazepam.

There is also the benefit in EMS of a much shorter time of effect for midazolam.

A drug that wears off quickly is going to be the safer EMS drug – unless there is a good reason to use a drug that lasts longer.

I will explain why wearing off quickly is important in EMS treatment of seizures in Part II (not yet posted).

Footnotes:

[1] Intramuscular versus intravenous therapy for prehospital status epilepticus.
Silbergleit R, Durkalski V, Lowenstein D, Conwit R, Pancioli A, Palesch Y, Barsan W; NETT Investigators.
N Engl J Med. 2012 Feb 16;366(7):591-600.
PMID: 22335736 [PubMed – in process]

Free Full Text from N Engl J Med.

I have written about this in Intramuscular Midazolam for Seizures – Part I,
Part II,
Part III,
Part IV,
Part V,
Part VI,
Misrepresenting Current Topics in EMS Research from EMS Expo – RAMPART,
and Images from Gathering of Eagles Presentation on RAMPART.

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


 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

All of this research is just too expensive.

We need to just use what we know works.
 

Go read the full article.

Footnotes:

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

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Evidence Based Medicine and Law – Star of Life Law

This is a follow-up to the discussion of MOI (Mechanism Of Injury) begun on Ambulance Driver’s column for EMS1.com – The Cult of Mechanism, which was given a brief introduction at Ambulance Driver’s blog, then hijacked over to here for some commentary, but mainly remaining at AD’s place. Then out of nowhere it is re-hijacked by Star of Life Law. Has he no ethics about this secondary hijacking? Well, he is a lawyer.

What does this lawyer do with his post?

He writes about legal stuff. So predictable. However, a lot of the discussion was about what may land EMS in court, or our patient in the ICU/cemetery. The court room can be scary. Pete Reid writes Star of Life Law and promises to address the legal aspects of EMS on his blog. Of course he starts by picking on the guy with the big yellow head.

From the way we are quoted, it almost seems as if AD and I do not agree on the value of MOI. We do not agree on everything. For example, AD does get a bit carried away when it comes to bacon.

Neither of us seem to have much respect for the abused tool that is MOI. A tool that is held out to the EMS community as a stay out of court free card.

Will you get in trouble for basing your treatment on MOI?

If your medical director knows what the value of MOI is, then Yes. You will probably be questioned on the reason for treatments that are not based on a patient assessment.

Is there a reason to be treating a person based on what does not appear to have injured the patient?

Not really. MOI is a clue. I thought about wording this differently, so that I could write that those basing treatment on MOI don’t have a clue. That would be misrepresenting MOI. MOI is a clue about the patient’s condition, but it is a very weak clue.

What are the MOI criteria?

First let’s look at all of the ACS (American College of Surgeons) trauma triage criteria.

Physiologic criteria:
Systolic blood pressure 29 breaths/min

Anatomic criteria:
Flail chest
≥2 proximal long bone fractures
Penetrating injury (nonextremity)

“Other” criteria:
Age 55 years
Known cardiac or respiratory disease

Mechanism criteria:
Crash speed >20 mph
≥30-inch vehicle deformity
Rearward displacement of front axle
Death of a same-vehicle occupant
Ejection of patient from the vehicle
Opposite-side intrusion >24 inches
Same-side vehicle intrusion >18 inches
Vehicle rollover[1]

The funny thing about these criteria is that you cannot find them on the ACS web site. At least I cannot. I have spent hours searching the site on different occasions. Apparently these are some sort of secret.

This is all I am going to write today. There is a lot about the trauma triage criteria, their application/misapplication, and other stuff to discuss. read what others have written. Welcome Star of Life Law to the EMS blogging community.

Footnotes:

^ 1 Evidence for and impact of selective reporting of trauma triage mechanism criteria.
Burstein JL, Henry MC, Alicandro JM, McFadden K, Thode HC Jr, Hollander JE.
Acad Emerg Med. 1996 Nov;3(11):1011-5.
PMID: 8922006 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

These criteria are from a 1996 study, so they are probably not the most recent, but they do provide a lot to write about.

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