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

- Rogue Medic

Do Emergency Physicians Intubate Often Enough to Maintain Competency?

 

    There is a study of the frequency of intubation among emergency physicians in the current Annals of Emergency Medicine. This study is accompanied by a discussion, which unfortunately does not question the assumption that intubation improves outcome. There is very little evidence to suggest that intubation improves outcomes. That evidence is only using paramedics with the highest success rates – much higher than your average paramedic.

 
Greater intubation experience in paramedics is associated with improved patient outcomes2; does a similar relationship exist for emergency physicians?[1]
 


Image credit.

The unquestioned assumption is that excellent intubation performance improves outcomes, rather than that excellent intubation performance causes less harm than average intubation performance, or below average performance. We do not have any good evidence to support the wishful thinking that paramedics, or even much more experienced emergency physicians, improve outcomes by intubating patients. We just assume this, because we don’t really want to know. If we decide to be honest and actually find out the effect of intubation, how will we handle it if the results show that we are harming more patients than we are helping?

The Cardiac Arrhythmia Suppression Trial was only started because the proponents of the different antiarrhythmics (encainide, flecainide, and moricizine) wanted to prove that their drug was better than all of the rest. They even agreed to include a placebo arm, although the doctors did not like the idea of depriving patients of such beneficial treatment.

 
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.[2]
 

People who had frequent ectopic heart beats – PVCs (Premature Ventricular Contractions) after a heart attack were more likely to die than people who did not have frequent PVCs. The obvious solution – the equivalent of intubation and blood-letting – was to give drugs that will get rid of the PVCs. The problem is that the PVCs were not the problem. The PVCs were just a sign of the problem. The drugs made the actual problem with the heart worse, while making the heart appear to be better. The same is true of blood-letting and may be true of intubation. Abundant evidence for the obvious benefits of blood-letting are quoted in the footnotes.[3]

If intubation is harmful, do we want to know?

If intubation by the average paramedic is harmful, do we want to know?

If intubation by the average emergency physician is harmful, do we want to know?

It isn’t as if we take intubation seriously. If we did take intubation seriously, we would practice much, much more than we do. In stead, we make excuses for failing to practice something that we claim is life-saving, because we are too arrogant to admit that practice is important to develop and maintain any skill.

Practicing on even the most basic mannequin should be done before every shift, whether you are a paramedic or an emergency physician. Unless you have a 99%, or better, success rate on hundreds of patients.

Footnotes:

[1] Intubation by Emergency Physicians: How Often Is Enough?
Kerrey BT, Wang H.
Ann Emerg Med. 2019 Dec;74(6):795-796. doi: 10.1016/j.annemergmed.2019.06.022. Epub 2019 Aug 19. No abstract available.
PMID: 31439364

The article above is commentary on the article below:

Procedural Experience With Intubation: Results From a National Emergency Medicine Group.
Carlson JN, Zocchi M, Marsh K, McCoy C, Pines JM, Christensen A, Kornas R, Venkat A.
Ann Emerg Med. 2019 Dec;74(6):786-794. doi: 10.1016/j.annemergmed.2019.04.025. Epub 2019 Jun 24.
PMID: 31248674

[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

Free Full Text from N Engl J Med.

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

Physicians observed of old, and continued to observe for many centuries, the following facts concerning blood-letting.

1. It gave relief to pain. . . . .

2. It diminished swelling. . . . .

3. It diminished local redness or congestion. . . . .

4. For a short time after bleeding, either local or general, abnormal heat was sensibly diminished.

5. After bleeding, spasms ceased, . . . .

6. If the blood could be made to run, patients were roused up suddenly from the apparent death of coma. (This was puzzling to those who regarded spasm and paralysis as opposite states; but it showed the catholic applicability of the remedy.)

7. Natural (wrongly termed ” accidental”) hacmorrhages were observed sometimes to end disease. . . . .

8. . . . venesection would cause hamorrhages to cease.
 

.

Association of ventilation with outcomes from out-of-hospital cardiac arrest

 

Does this study compare chest compressions with pauses for ventilation (regular CPR [CardioPulmonary Resuscitation]) against continuous chest compressions with no ventilations (compression-only CPR)?

Absolutely not.

This only compares compressions with pauses for good ventialtions against compressions with pauses for bad ventilations.

Will this be used to justify including ventilations in CPR, in spite of the absence of any valid evidence that ventilations improve outcomes?

Yes. It already has in the editorial about the study, published in the same issue.[1]

The authors of the paper were clear about the actual comparison in the discussion.
 

Why did so few patients in our study receive ventilation during CPR? Ventilation with a BVM device is a difficult skill to perform properly and must be practiced to maintain proficiency.22 The person performing ventilation must extend the neck, or place an oral airway, and/or perform a jaw thrust maneuver in order to maintain an open airway, a tight mask seal on the face must be maintained to prevent air from leaking around the mask, and the rescuer must then simultaneously squeeze the manual ventilator over 1 to 1.5 s. Our study showed no significant difference in the number of pauses between Group 1 and Group 2 patients (11 vs. 12 pauses). However, Group 2 patients received significantly more ventilations than Group 1 patients (8 vs. 3 ventilations). The study suggests that the rescuers in both Groups attempted ventilation about the same number of times per patient, but these attempts frequently did not result in lung inflation in Group 1 patients.[2]

 

In other words, this is a study of 30 compressions with a pause for 2 adequate ventilations to 30 compressions with a pause for 2 inadequate ventilations. This is important to know, but it has nothing to do with compression-only resuscitation.
 


 

Were the ventilations in the bad ventilation group going into the stomach? There are not a lot of possibilities, but not much of the ventilations were not going into the lungs or the ventilations were very shallow.

The authors do not mention if there is any difference in the rate of vomiting, aspiration, or other side effects expected from bad ventilation, between the groups.

The authors appear to be measuring the quality of ventilation, which is has never been shown to improve outcomes over compression-only resuscitation.

There is research showing that ventilations do not improve outcomes:
 

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

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

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

Free Full Text at JAMA

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

And more.

 

 

Footnotes:

[1] Ventilation during cardiopulmonary resuscitation-Only mostly dead!
Mosesso VN Jr.
Resuscitation. 2019 Aug;141:200-201. doi: 10.1016/j.resuscitation.2019.06.274. Epub 2019 Jun 22. No abstract available.
PMID: 31238035

 

[2] Association of ventilation with outcomes from out-of-hospital cardiac arrest.
Chang MP, Lu Y, Leroux B, Aramendi Ecenarro E, Owens P, Wang HE, Idris AH.
Resuscitation. 2019 Aug;141:174-181. doi: 10.1016/j.resuscitation.2019.05.006. Epub 2019 May 18.
PMID: 31112744

.

How Effective Is Epinephrine for Improving Survival Among Patients in Cardiac Arrest?

   

There have been two studies comparing epinephrine with placebo to treat out of hospital cardiac arrest. The Jacobs study was stopped early, because of interference by those who do not want to know if their medicine actually works.[1] The purpose of research is to determine, as objectively as possible, if a treatment is better than placebo nothing.  

Click on the image to make it larger.  

Even the small sample size shows a impressive p values of <0.001 for both ROSC (Return Of Spontaneous Circulation) and being admitted to the hospital. Unfortunately, that does not lead to outcomes that are better than placebo.

The Perkins study (PARAMEDIC2) did not find a significant difference between adrenaline (epinephrine in non-Commonwealth countries) and placebo.[2] The Jacobs study also did not find a difference, but the numbers were small, due to the interference by the less than knowledgeable. Following the Jacobs study, some intervention proponents have suggested that the problem is not a lack of evidence of benefit, but need to look at the evidence from the right perspective. The inadequate evidence is not “inadequate”, but really just misunderstood. All we need to do is use a method of analysis that compensates for the tiny sample size. A Bayesian approach will produce the positive outcome that is not justified by so few patients.[3]

What happens when the numbers are combined, so that the sample size is large enough to eliminate the need for statistical chicanery to come up with something positive?

The outcomes do not improve.  

Neither standard dose adrenaline, high-dose adrenaline,vasopressin nor a combination of adrenaline and vasopressin improved survival with a favourable neurological outcome.[4]
 

If the Bayesian approach were appropriate, then the much larger sample size would have provided more than enough patients to confirm the optimism of the epinephrine advocates. The result is still not statistically significant. Maybe a much, much larger study will show a statistically significant, but tiny, improvement in outcomes with epinephrine, but don’t hold your breath for that. It took half a century to produce the first study, then seven more years for the second. With the cost of research and the problems coordinating such a large study, it is more likely that the guidelines will continue to recommend spending a lot of time and money giving a drug that diverts attention from the interventions that do improve outcomes.

There is still no evidence that adrenaline provides better outcomes than placebo in human cardiac arrest patients.

  –  

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  

This study was designed as a multicentre trial involving five ambulance services in Australia and New Zealand and was accordingly powered to detect clinically important treatment effects. Despite having obtained approvals for the study from Institutional Ethics Committees, Crown Law and Guardianship Boards, the concerns of being involved in a trial in which the unproven “standard of care” was being withheld prevented four of the five ambulance services from participating.

In addition adverse press reports questioning the ethics of conducting this trial, which subsequently led to the involvement of politicians, further heightened these concerns. Despite the clearly demonstrated existence of clinical equipoise for adrenaline in cardiac arrest it remained impossible to change the decision not to participate.

  –  

[2] 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

Free Full Text from N Engl J Med.

  –  

[3] Regarding “Effect of adrenaline on survival in out-of-hospital cardiac arrest: A randomised double-blind placebo-controlled trial”. Youngquist ST, Niemann JT. Resuscitation. 2012 Apr;83(4):e105; author reply e107. doi: 10.1016/j.resuscitation.2011.09.035. Epub 2012 Jan 18. No abstract available. PMID: 22266068

Free Full Text from Resuscitation.

  –  

[4] Adrenaline and vasopressin for cardiac arrest. Finn J, Jacobs I, Williams TA, Gates S, Perkins GD. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2019 Jan 17;1:CD003179. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD003179.pub2. PMID: 30653257    

.

ILCOR wants the appearance of public comments with less than half the substance

 

The International Liaison Committee on Resuscitation (ILCOR) shows its priorities in the way it handles its problem with public comments.
 

Last week ILCOR posted the two new draft CoSTRs listed below for public comment. It became apparent that the commenting link was broken and those who visited the site could not comment. We apologize for the inconvenience. The commenting link is now fixed and we invite you to comment at ilcor.org/costr.

  • Advanced Airway Management During Adult Cardiac Arrest
  • Vasopressors in Adult Cardiac Arrest
  • As a reminder, the public comment period will close on 4 April 2019.[1]

     

    ILCOR made a mistake that prevented public comments from being submitted for most of the public comment period.

    ILCOR is so interested in your public comments that they have decided to send out an email to let people know that they have the same drop dead date for the comments as before, but this time they might actually be able to get the comments to work. Maybe.

    The lack of evidence of benefit of epinephrine (adrenaline in Commonwealth countries) has lasted over half a century, so what is the rush to get these new guidelines out?

    There is only one outcome that matters – survival without severe brain damage.
     


     

    ILCOR evaluates 23 outcomes.

    ILCOR considers 15 of these outcomes critical, but they are really just 5 outcomes, with some of them repeated over different rhythms. These are (in increasing order of importance to the only one that matters):

    1. For the critical outcome of survival to hospital discharge, 2. For the critical outcome of survival at 3 months, 3. For the critical outcome of favorable neurologic outcome at hospital discharge, 4. For the critical outcome of survival with unfavorable neurologic outcome at 3 months, 5. For the critical outcome of favorable neurologic outcome at 3 months,

    Many of them are repeated for each cardiac arrest rhythm or for each vasopressor, or vasopressor cocktail:

    1. Epinephrine plus vasopressin compared to epinephrine only – Any rhythm 2. Initial vasopressin compared to initial epinephrine – Any rhythm 3. Epinephrine compared to placebo – Non-shockable rhythms 4. Epinephrine compared to placebo – Shockable rhythms 5. Epinephrine compared to placebo – Any initial rhythm

    There is only one outcome that matters – survival without severe brain damage.

    There is only one study that was large enough to answer this:
     

    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.[2]

     

    If the people at ILCOR really think that epinephrine is beneficial in cardiac arrest, they should encourage a much larger study.

    There were 4,000 patients in each group – 4,000 placebo and 4,000 epinephrine.

    Maybe with 8,000 patients in each group, the ever decreasing “trend toward better outcome” will reach significance. Maybe it will be shown to be just another insignificant appearance of a “trend” that is the result of having so few survivors to compare.

    There were only 161 survivors without severe brain damage out of 8,000 cardiac arrest patients – 74 placebo and 87 epinephrine.

    Those resuscitated before receiving epinephrine/placebo were excluded from the study, so this is not a case of EMS that only has a 2% resuscitation rate. The focus on epinephrine is a focus on the patients least likely to be resuscitated and a focus on counterproductive outcomes.

    Almost all of our good outcomes (without severe brain damage) will be without epinephrine, because these resuscitations happen before epinephrine can be give by even the most aggressive epi enthusiast.

    What we are doing is making excuses for memorizing ineffective interventions and requiring their application is a specific way, in order to determine the quality of care. We are promoting fantasy.

    We learned that distracting from the quality of chest compressions is the most deadly thing we can do in resuscitation.

    CPR = only chest compressions – the exception is when the arrest is believed to be due to a respiratory event, such as when the Smurf sign or a respiratory/choking history is present. Chest compressions provide all of the pulmonary resuscitation that a human needs for a non-respiratory event and the respiratory events are not easily missed.

    Why require a whole bunch of skills be applied for such a tiny portion of good outcomes among cardiac arrest patients?

    Why not give up on requiring these skills when the evidence makes it clear that there is no benefit?

    All we are doing is adding cognitive load to make us feel like we are doing something special.

    We could learn something that actually benefits patients, such as how to assess patients when giving high-dose NTG (NiTroGlycerin or GTN GlycerylTriNitrate in Commonwealth countries) for even hypotensive CHF/ADHF (Congestive Heart Failure/Acute Decompensated Heart Failure), where we can make much more of a difference and prevent cardiac arrest, but we don’t.[3],[4],[5]
     


     

    Cognitive load is not just a problem for paramedics and nurses, or med/surg doctors, but also for emergency physicians:

    Cognitive Load and the Emergency Physician
    April 12, 2016
    James O’Shea
    emDocs
    Article

    Why are we distracting everyone from things that do improve the only outcome that matters, in order to promote things that do not improve any outcome that matters?

    Here is what I wrote –
     

    The primary source for the recommendation to keep things the same is a brand new study – PARAMEDIC2.

    This showed no statistically significant improvement in the only outcome that matter – survival without severe brain damage.

    A larger study might show that there is a real improvement – or it may put the epi hypothesis out of its misery.

    I will eventually have a cardiac arrest. If I am resuscitated, whom will ILCOR send to change my diaper, and attend to the other things I can no longer attend to?

    We need evidence of a significant benefit in order to justify distracting everyone from interventions that actually do improve survival without severe brain damage.

    .

     

    The commenting link is now fixed and we invite you to comment at ilcor.org/costr

    Maybe they will pay attention. Dr. Rory Spiegel of EM Nerd has a detailed comment that is also critical of ILCOR’s proposed “strong recommendation” of epinephrine.

    Footnotes:

    [1] Vasopressors in Adult Cardiac Arrest
    Time left for commenting: 11 days 15:49:49
    ILCOR staff
    Created: March 21, 2019 · Updated: March 21, 2019
    Draft for public comment
    Consensus on Science with Treatment Recommendations (CoSTR)
    Vasopressors in Adult Cardiac Arrest page for comments until April 04, 2019 at 06:00 Eastern Time

    [2] 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

    Free Full Text from N Engl J Med.
     

    In a Bayesian analysis that used an assumption of no benefit from adrenaline, the posterior probability that the absolute rate of survival was at least 1 percentage point higher in the epinephrine group than in the placebo group was 37% (Fig. S3 in the Supplementary Appendix). The probability that the absolute survival rate was at least 2 percentage points higher was 0.2%. With respect to the rate of survival with a favorable neurologic outcome at hospital discharge, the probabilities that the rate was at least 1 or 2 percentage points higher with epinephrine were 1.9% and 0%, respectively (Fig. S4 in the Supplementary Appendix).

     

    The probability of a good outcome (no severe brain damage) is not improved with epinephrine.

    If we want to improve outcomes, we need to look elsewhere, because there is nothing to be gained with epi.

    [3] Intravenous nitrates in the prehospital management of acute pulmonary edema.
    Bertini G, Giglioli C, Biggeri A, Margheri M, Simonetti I, Sica ML, Russo L, Gensini G.
    Ann Emerg Med. 1997 Oct;30(4):493-9.
    PMID: 9326864 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

    [4] Unreasonable Fear of Hypotension and High-Dose NTG – Part I
    Thu, 29 Aug 2013
    Rogue Medic
    Article

    [5] Unreasonable Fear of Hypotension and High-Dose NTG – Part II
    Wed, 04 Sep 2013
    Rogue Medic
    Article

    .

    ACLS Excuses for Causing Harm with Epinephrine

     

    The next ACLS guidelines are available for review and comment, before they are finalized. The Consensus on Science with Treatment Recommendations (CoSTR) from the International Liaison Committee on Resuscitation (ILCOR) are available for two guidelines:

    Vasopressors in Adult Cardiac Arrest

    Advanced Airway Management During Adult Cardiac Arrest

    We have been using these interventions for so long, that there should be great evidence to show that benefits and harms of both interventions, but there is no good evidence to support either intervention.

    For epinephrine (adrenaline in Commonwealth countries), the most commonly used vasopressor and the only one rally being considered, there is no evidence of actual benefit – increased survival without severe brain damage.

    Nothing else matters.

    There is no valid evidence that increasing any surrogate endpoint improves survival without severe brain damage. The evidence cited by ILCOR shows that epinephrine increases the rate of severe brain damage.
     

    Intervention: Vasopressor or a combination of vasopressors provided intravenously or intraosseously during cardiopulmonary resuscitation.[1]

     

    Here are the outcomes that are supposed to indicate that the patient is better.
     

    Outcomes: Short-term survival (return of spontaneous circulation (ROSC) and survival to hospital admission), mid-term survival (survival to hospital discharge, 28 days, 30 days, or 1 month), mid-term favorable neurological outcomes (Cerebral Performance Category score of 1-2 or modified Rankin Scale 0-3 at hospital discharge, 28 days, 30 days, or 1 month) and long-term favorable and poor (modified Rankin Score 4-5) neurological outcomes (after 1 month).[1]

     

    Is ROSC an improvement?

    We aren’t supposed to ask that question. These are faulty assumption that the guidelines are based on.

    1. Doing something more is better than only doing things supported by valid evidence of improved survival without severe brain damage.

    No.

    How much harm is being caused in this rush to get a pulse back?

    We are supposed to ignore our understanding of research, look at a statistically insignificant “trend”, and extrapolate that statistically insignificant “trend” to support the prejudice that our intervention has not been harmful.

    That is not good science.

    That is not good medicine.
     

    Why aren’t there any studies large enough to show improved survival without severe brain damage for anything other than rapid defibrillation (when indicated VF/pulseless VT) and chest compressions?

    The research has only produced excuses and surrogate endpoint. Surrogate endpoints are for hypothesis generation and sales pitches to the least knowledgeable, but not for treatment guidelines.

    ILCOR has told us this before, but that was because the choice was between large doses of epinephrine and small doses of epinephrine, not between epinephrine and no epinephrine.

    The choice is the same.

    Is the more aggressive intervention helping?

    The answer is the same. No. That is not the conclusion of the evidence.
     

    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.[2]

     

    If the goal is a pulse with more severe brain damage, then epinephrine is the way to go.

    If the goal is increased survival without severe brain damage, we have to keep looking.

    We should limit the use of epinephrine to well controlled research until there is evidence of improvement in outcomes that matter.

    If this evidence is never found, our patients will not have been harmed by epinephrine.

    If this evidence is eventually found, it is something that should have been insisted on decades ago. We should not use wishful thinking and surrogate endpoints to justify interventions that harm patients.

    We used to stop compressions to let the medic/nurse/doctor intubate, or start an IV (IntraVenous) line.

    We knew that the tube was more important.

    We knew that the drugs given through the IV line were more important.

    The 2005 guidelines told us to continue compressions during intubation and during IV attempts and to improve the quality of the compressions.

    That focus on high quality compressions is the only time we have improved outcomes that matter.
     

    CONCLUSIONS: Compared with controls, patients with out-of-hospital cardiac arrest treated with a renewed emphasis on improved circulation during CPR had significantly higher neurologically intact hospital discharge rates.[3]

     

    33 1/3% vs 60% increased survival without severe brain damage.
     

    In 2004, we began a statewide program to advocate chest compression-only CPR for bystanders of witnessed primary OHCA. Over the next five years, we found that survival of patients with a shockable rhythm was 17.7% in those treated with standard bystander CPR (mouth-to-mouth ventilations plus chest compression) compared to 33.7% for those who received bystander chest-compression-only CPR.[4]

     

    18% vs 34% increased survival only – not increased survival without severe brain damage.
     

    In the analysis of MICR [Minimally Interrupted Cardiac Resuscitation] protocol compliance involving 2460 patients with cardiac arrest, survival was significantly better among patients who received MICR than those who did not (9.1% [60/661] vs 3.8% [69/1799]; OR, 2.7; 95% CI, 1.9-4.1), as well as patients with witnessed ventricular fibrillation (28.4% [40/141] vs 11.9% [46/387]; OR, 3.4; 95% CI, 2.0-5.8).[5]

     

    9% vs 4% increased survival only – not increased survival without severe brain damage.
     

    Neurologic outcomes were also better in the patients who received CCR (OR=6.64, 95% CI=1.31 to 32.8).[6]

     

    6 2/3 more likely to have increased survival without severe brain damage. The range is 1 1/3 to almost 33 times, because of the small numbers, but unlike epinephrine, this is statistically significant and supported by other research.

    We are still making excuses for using a drug that causes harm and does not appear to provide a benefit that is greater than the harm. If there is more benefit, it is too small to be measured, even in a study with over 9,000 patients. We do not know which patients benefit and which patients are harmed, so we do not know how to minimize the harm that we cause.

    Our patients deserve better.

    Footnotes:

    [1] Vasopressors in Adult Cardiac Arrest
    Time left for commenting: 11 days 15:49:49
    ILCOR staff
    Created: March 21, 2019 · Updated: March 21, 2019
    Draft for public comment
    Consensus on Science with Treatment Recommendations (CoSTR)
    Vasopressors in Adult Cardiac Arrest page for comments until April 04, 2019 at 06:00 Eastern Time

    [2] 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

    Free Full Text from N Engl J Med.

    [3] Implementing the 2005 American Heart Association Guidelines improves outcomes after out-of-hospital cardiac arrest.
    Aufderheide TP, Yannopoulos D, Lick CJ, Myers B, Romig LA, Stothert JC, Barnard J, Vartanian L, Pilgrim AJ, Benditt DG.
    Heart Rhythm. 2010 Oct;7(10):1357-62. doi: 10.1016/j.hrthm.2010.04.022. Epub 2010 Apr 24.
    PMID: 20420938

    Free Full Text from Heart Rhythm.

    [4] The cardiocerebral resuscitation protocol for treatment of out-of-hospital primary cardiac arrest.
    Ewy GA.
    Scand J Trauma Resusc Emerg Med. 2012 Sep 15;20:65. doi: 10.1186/1757-7241-20-65. Review.
    PMID: 22980487

    Free Full Text from PubMed Central.

    [5] Minimally interrupted cardiac resuscitation by emergency medical services for out-of-hospital cardiac arrest.
    Bobrow BJ, Clark LL, Ewy GA, Chikani V, Sanders AB, Berg RA, Richman PB, Kern KB.
    JAMA. 2008 Mar 12;299(10):1158-65. doi: 10.1001/jama.299.10.1158.
    PMID: 18334691

    Free Full Text from JAMA.

    [6] Cardiocerebral resuscitation is associated with improved survival and neurologic outcome from out-of-hospital cardiac arrest in elders.
    Mosier J, Itty A, Sanders A, Mohler J, Wendel C, Poulsen J, Shellenberger J, Clark L, Bobrow B.
    Acad Emerg Med. 2010 Mar;17(3):269-75. doi: 10.1111/j.1553-2712.2010.00689.x.
    PMID: 20370759

    Free Full Text from Acad Emerg Med.

    .

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

     

    I showed the problems with amiodarone for both live patients and dead patients in Part I. The higher the quality of the evidence, the less the evidence supports the use of amiodarone on humans.

    Amiodarone is all sales pitch and no medical benefit, but Dr. Kudenchuk keeps trying to spin the results like an acupuncturist, when the evidence clearly does not support Dr. Kudenchuk’s claims.[1]
     

    What else should be de-emphasized?

    Obviously, adrenaline (epinephrine in non-Commonwealth countries) for cardiac arrest. As the quality of the epinephrine research has improved, the claims of supposed benefits have disappeared.[2], [3]

    Now, the goalposts have shifted, again, and the claims are that some other dosing is safe and effective, even though the evidence to support these claims does not exist. This is alternative medicine. This is dishonest. This is experimenting on patients without any kind of ethical approval, or collection of data, or anything else that would accompany a true experiment. We are learning that we are very good at lying to ourselves, but we knew that.

    Eventually, we may be claiming that we have not studied what happens when we stand on one leg while giving epinephrine.

    How can we possibly stop using adrenaline if we have not proven that it doesn’t work when standing on one leg? How can we refuse to provide this one legged hope to patients?

    We are sorry for what we did to your _______, but we consider justifying doing something harmful, based on low quality evidence and even lower quality excuses, to be more important than the outcomes of our patients. If we don’t throw in the kitchen sink, how can we claim that we did everything we could for to your _______?
     


    Click on the image to make it larger.
    I modified the original to add the outcomes reported by PARAMEDIC2. Severe neurological impairment is the wording from the conclusion, but that would not fit. If you think that harm is not an accurate synonym for impairment, you may be dangerous to patients.
    Source of original – R.E.B.E.L. EM – Beyond ACLS: Cognitively Offloading During a Cardiac Arrest
     

    If the next revision of ACLS/ILCOR (Advanced Cardiac Life Support/International Liaison Committee on Resuscitation) does not state that epinephrine/adrenaline should be limited to use in high quality research, it will be encouraging abuse of patients.

    This is alternative medicine. This is not medicine.

    The difference is that real medicine relies on valid evidence that it works, while alternative medicine relies on marketing strategies and misinformation.

    Do you want to be treated by someone who can tell the difference between these approaches?

    Medicine requires doing what is best for the patient.

    Alternative medicine requires doing what makes the guru look best, so that the guru can keep making sales.

    The doctors promoting this unethical approach do not appear to be ashamed of what they are doing, but they keep making excuses. We need to make it clear that their excuses are not ethical.

    To all of the doctors claiming that a drip works. Demonstrate that you are ethical and competent. Show that what you are doing improves outcomes that matter to patients, in a high quality study, or stop.

    If doctors won’t do that, maybe we should add DNA (Do Not Amio) and DNE (Do Not Epi) to our list of advance directives, for those who do not think that resuscitation to a come, where sepsis and aspiration pneumonia are what we aspire to.

    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 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.

     

    Here are some comments from Dr. Kudenchuk, which contradict the conclusion of Dr. Kudenchuk’s study:
     

    This trial shows that amiodarone and lidocaine offer hope for bringing patients back to life and into the hospital after cardiac arrest,” said principal study author Peter Kudenchuk, M.D.

     

    This trial shows that amiodarone and lidocaine offer no hope for outcomes that matter to patients.
     

    Importantly, there was a significant improvement in survival to hospital discharge with either drug when the cardiac arrest was bystander-witnessed.”

     

    There is no truth to Dr. Kudenchuk’s claim. This is what the authors of the study actually wrote:
     

    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.

     

    The best that can be stated about these drugs is that if the researchers used a large enough study, they might be able to find a statistically significant result – or the researchers may demonstrate that this was just another example of a statistically insignificant run of luck, which means nothing and is just as likely to have gone the other way.

    A run of heads in a row, while flipping a coin is a reason to examine the coin for bias, but if no bias is found, it is expected to be just what is expected to happen in a large number of coin flips. A lack of understanding of coincidence leads to faulty conclusions.

    The difference in outcomes, that Dr. Kudenchuk claims is significant, not statistically significant.

    Does Dr. Kudenchuk not understand the way research works or does Dr. Kudenchuk have some unstated motive for distorting the results? It appears that the New England Journal of Medicine refused to publish the conclusion that Dr. Kudenchuk wanted, so Dr. Kudenchuk is using more gullible people to spread his misinformation.

    Go ahead and read the full paper, which is available from NEJM here.

    Also read Dr. Kudenchuk’s press release, which misrepresents the results of Dr. Kudenchuk’s study. You would think that Dr. Kudenchuk would know better.
     

    Antiarrhythmic drugs found beneficial when used by EMS treating cardiac arrest
    NHLBI NEWS|News Release
    April 4, 2016, 9:00 AM EDT
    Press Release
     

    I have nothing to hide. I want you to look all of the evidence.
     

    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

    [2] Effect of adrenaline on survival in out-of-hospital cardiac arrest: A randomised double-blind placebo-controlled trial
    Jacobs IG, Finn JC, Jelinek GA, Oxer HF, Thompson PL.
    Resuscitation. 2011 Sep;82(9):1138-43. Epub 2011 Jul 2.
    PMID: 21745533 [PubMed – in process]

    Free Full Text PDF Download from semanticscholar.org
     

    This study was designed as a multicentre trial involving five ambulance services in Australia and New Zealand and was accordingly powered to detect clinically important treatment effects. Despite having obtained approvals for the study from Institutional Ethics Committees, Crown Law and Guardianship Boards, the concerns of being involved in a trial in which the unproven “standard of care” was being withheld prevented four of the five ambulance services from participating.

     

    In addition adverse press reports questioning the ethics of conducting this trial, which subsequently led to the involvement of politicians, further heightened these concerns. Despite the clearly demonstrated existence of clinical equipoise for adrenaline in cardiac arrest it remained impossible to change the decision not to participate.

     

    The results do not show an improvement in the any outcome that matters to patients.
     

    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.

     

    [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 Jul 18. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa1806842. [Epub ahead of print]
    PMID: 30021076

    Free Full Text from NEJM

    It appears that the full text of PARAMEDIC2 is no longer available for free from NEJM, but there is the option of registering for 3 free papers a month (Register for 3 FREE subscriber-only articles each month.) in a red pop-up banner at the bottom of the page.

    Once again, the results do not show an improvement in the any outcome that matters to patients.
     

    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.

     

    .

    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.

    .

    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.

    .