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.
 

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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.

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[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    

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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.

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Protecting Systemic Incompetence – Part I

 

We demand the lowest standards, because we are willfully ignorant and we do not want to understand. The surprise is that so many of us survive our devotion to incompetence. The loudest voices tend to dominate the discussions and the loudest voices demand that their excuses for incompetence be accepted. The rest of us don’t oppose incompetence enough.

A nurse was told to give 2 mg Versed (the most common brand of midazolam in the US) for sedation for a scan, intended to give 1 mg Versed, but actually gave an unknown quantity of vecuronium (Norcuron is the most common brand in the US). The patient was observed to be unresponsive and pulseless by the techs in the scan. A code was called. The family learned the details from a newspaper article, not from the hospital.
 

A Tennessee nurse charged with reckless homicide after a medication error killed a patient pleaded not guilty on Wednesday in a Nashville courtroom packed with other nurses who came in scrubs to show their support.[1]

 

The nurse intended to give a medication that should be limited to patients who are monitored (ECG and waveform capnography), because different patients will respond in different ways. This is basic drug administration and deviation from that basic competence may even have been common in this Neuro ICU (Neurological Intensive Care Unit). We demand low standards, because we do not want to understand.

We don’t need to monitor for that, because that almost never happens.

Except these easily preventable errors do happen. And we lie about it. We help to cover it up, because we demand low standards, regardless of how many patients have to suffer for the benefit of our incompetence.

This is a common argument used by doctors, nurses, paramedics, . . . . It makes no sense, but we keep demonstrating that we don’t care.

The people in charge should act responsibly, but they delegate responsibility and we reward them.

Back to the hospital, Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) is a university medical center, so the standards should be high. VUMC was founded in 1874 and is ranked as one of the best hospitals in America.

There is a drug dispensing machine, from which less-than-killed nurses can obtain almost anything and administer almost anything, without understanding enough to recognize the problem. This is an administrative problem. This was designed by someone with no understanding of risk management.

The over-ride of the selection is not the problem, because emergencies happen and it is sometimes necessary to bypass normal procedures during an emergency. Ambulances are equipped with lights, sirens, and permission to violate certain traffic rules for this reason.

Some of the many blatant problems are:

* The failure of the nurse to have any understanding of the medication supposed to be given

* The failure of the nurse to recognize that the drug being given was not the drug ordered.

* The failure of the nurse to monitor the patient being given a drug for sedation.

* Most of all, the failure of the hospital – the nurses, the doctors, the administrators, to try to make sure that at least these minimum standards are in place.

* How often do nurses in the Neuro ICU give midazolam?

* Why is a nurse, who is clearly not familiar with midazolam, giving midazolam to any patient?

* How is a nurse, working unsupervised in a Neuro ICU not familiar with midazolam?

* What kind of qualifications are required for a nurse to give sedation without supervision?

* Since this nurse was orienting another nurse, what qualifies this nurse to orient anyone?

* Given the side effects of midazolam, why was midazolam ordered without monitoring?

* Given the side effects of midazolam, was it the most appropriate sedative for use in a setting where monitoring is going to be difficult?

* Was it the more rapid onset of sedation, in order to free up the PET scan more quickly and/or avoid having to reschedule the scan, that led to the choice of midazolam?

* How well do any of the doctors understand the pharmacology of midazolam if they are giving orders for a nurse to grab a dose, take it down to the scan, give the drug, and return to the unit, abandoning the monitoring of the patient to the techs in the PET scan?

* This is not a criticism of the techs in PET scan, but are techs authorized to manage sedated patients?

* Even though they will often scan sedated patients, are the techs required to demonstrate any competence at managing sedated patients?
 

The nurses being oriented apparently thought that it is customary to give sedation:

1. without even looking at the name of the medication

2. without confirming by looking at the name again, it before administration

3. without double checking with a nurse, or tech, that the label matches the name of the drug to be given
 

How many of the doctors, responsible for the care of ICU patients, would agree to be sedated, without being monitored, and to have their care handed off to PET scan technicians?

Why didn’t the doctors and nurses see this as a problem before it made the news?

If the problems were reported, nothing appears to have been done to address the problems beyond the usual – Nothing to see here. Move along. or That’s above your pay grade.

That is the primary point I am trying to make.

The problem is well above the pay grade of the nurse.
 

Here is the part that experienced nurses have jumped on immediately:

Why did the nurse think that midazolam needs to be reconstituted?

Vecuronium (most common brand name is Norcuron) is a non-depolarizing neuromuscular-blocker, which comes as a poweder, that needs to be reconstituted.
 


Image source
 

1. Read label instructions?

This nurse has repeatedly demonstrated a need to be supervised, but those responsible for that supervision have apparently ignored their responsibilities in a way that far exceeds any failures by this nurse.

Is it possible that this is a one time event and that the nurse has behaved in an exemplary manner at all times while around doctors and other nurses before this day? It is possible, but the number and severity of the failures on the part of the nurse strongly suggest a pattern of not understanding, not caring, or both. I suspect that any lack of caring is due to a lack of understanding, because I have not yet lost all hope in humanity.

Footnotes:

[1] Nurse charged in fatal drug-swap error pleads not guilty
By Travis Loller
February 20, 2019
Associated Press
Article

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Happy Darwin and Lincoln Day 2019

 

Today we celebrate two 210th birthdays. Both stood up to right wing religious fanatics and were attacked for it. One was assassinated.

The first birthday boy is Abraham Lincoln, who might have been the most famous aggressively pro-civil rights, do gooder, Social Justice Warrior president – except that secession began before Lincoln even took office. The slave states were so afraid of what Lincoln might do that they didn’t even wait to find out. They didn’t use any valid legal means to try to win their case, but essentially stated, We’re leaving and we’re taking these parts of America, because we believe they belong to us and secession is 9/10ths of the law. We double dog dare you to enforce the law – and just to comply with the wording of the Constitution of the United States, we are going to open fire on the United States Army. The hurt themselves and the rest of America by promoting secessionists’ devotion to enslaving those not white and the secessionists’ adamant opposition to states’ rights. Yes, the secessionists’ claimed to be fighting for states’ rights, but liars lie.
 

Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort. No person shall be convicted of treason unless on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or on confession in open court.

The Congress shall have power to declare the punishment of treason, but no attainder of treason shall work corruption of blood, or forfeiture except during the life of the person attainted.[1]

 

Ironically, those who seceded were Democrats, but the parties have flipped and the Republicans are now the anti-civil rights party.

The following statement is from Sen. Barry Goldwater, who was the 1964 Republican and Conservative candidate for president, but now would be rejected by the Conservatives and the Republicans.
 

Mark my word, if and when these preachers get control of the [Republican] party, and they’re sure trying to do so, it’s going to be a terrible damn problem. Frankly, these people frighten me. Politics and governing demand compromise. But these Christians believe they are acting in the name of God, so they can’t and won’t compromise. I know, I’ve tried to deal with them.[2]

 

Modern America has moved so far to the right, that Goldwater would probably be accused of being a socialist and a communist by various members of the right wing media. Sen. Goldwater also opposed government intrusion into the personal lives of LGBT people, because he was opposed to the big government that much of the right wing wants to use to force their lifestyle on everyone.

At that time, the right wing media being condemned by Sen. Goldwater was just beginning a resurgence. The ironically named Moral Majority was preaching its Christian sharia law to gather a lot of followers. Jerry Falwell, Sr. was their leader and Barry Goldwater condemned that earlier, less powerful, Falwell. His son, Jerry Falwell, Jr. seems to be able to tell our current president what to do, but a lot of people manipulate the president.
 

I think every good Christian ought to kick Falwell right in the ass.[3]

 

Since the Civil War, the propaganda machine of the secessionists has been more successful. They have been able to place statues of the traitors throughout the states they led in treason to show everyone that the secessionists still maintain power in spite of being defeated on the battlefield. Why don’t we have statues of Benedict Arnold?

We could celebrate Robert E. Lee for his opposition to secessionists after the war and for Lee’s unintentional(?) destruction of his cavalry at Gettysburg. Pickett’s Charge may have been the final straw for the Army Promoting Expansion of Slavery.

The second 210th birthday boy is Charles Darwin, who is remembered for explaining the diversity of life on Earth. Evolution explains the evidence showing the progression from the simplest life form to the current diversity of life – a diversity which appears to be decreasing due to our failure to value our children above our politics. Extinction is a part of that explanation. Extinction was once thought to be an argument against evolution, because it would violate God’s perfect plan, but eventually, extinction became undeniable, too. Oddly, people still deny biology. Evolution is so essential to biology, that Theodosius Dobzhansky wrote a paper titled, Nothing in Biology Makes Sense Except in the Light of Evolution.[4]

It is interesting that the science denial that affects biology, Creationism, is promoted most aggressively in the same slave states Bible Belt that fought against the United States of America in favor of treating diversity as a justification for violence.

It was science that helped the liberal Christians to convince the rest of America that slavery is wrong – something that much of the often less Christian rest of world already understood.
 

Book that Changed America - cover 1
 

As I wrote in 2017:

Darwin provided scientific evidence for a common origin, which gave a scientific argument to those criticizing slavery. How is it moral to enslave other humans? Well, the Bible repeatedly endorses slavery and Jesus never criticized slavery. Jesus actually used slavery as an analogy for belief in God, with believers as slaves and the slave owners as God.

Contrariwise, those who focused on the good parts of the Bible and avoided the bad parts, used Darwin’s book as the basis for advocating for a more moral approach to our fellow humans. Those who read the Bible differently from the advocates of slavery saw that they were not along. Science also opposed the moral abyss of slavery.

Not to spoil the ending, but the abolitionists were not successful at reasoning with those in the Bible Belt to end slavery in America. We ended up with over 600,000 Americans dead over different interpretations of the Bible on how to treat humans.[5]

The anti-science of Young Earth Creationism, the most basic form of Creationism, is the belief that the particular version of the God of that sect of believers literally just poofed itself into existence, then created life in its current diversity and that mutation can never produce a beneficial outcome.

For some bizarre reason, this God has organs of evolution. A true only one of its kind creature would not be male, nor would it be female, but the plot holes are numerous and demonstrate the impossibility of the story, when promoted as accurate. What other creature(s) God need sexual organs for? How did this God evolve them? Most Christians seem to view the two contradictory Creation stories in Genesis (Genesis 1 vs. Genesis 2) as metaphorical. How else do you defend something that dramatically changes when you turn to the next page? Hallucinogens? Hypoxia? Dementia? Metaphor – it is poetic, rather than literal. At least, that is the only reasonable approach.

Some Creationists take a shot at creating a middle approach. These not-so-literalists claim that microevolution is real, but macroevolution is impossible. These are real terms, but not the way the not-so-literalist Creationists use them.

These Creationists see that microevolution is undeniable, so they try to move the goalposts to try to protect their belief in Separate Creation.

Here is a further irony. These not-so-literalist Creationists claim that while they cannot deny that evolution happens on a small scale, they absolutely refuse to accept that it continues. Evolution is required to stop. Although they cannot provide any kind of evidence to support their claim and scientists provide plenty of evidence that evolution is not stopped, they continue to make this claim.

The irony gets even greater, because when you are dealing with apologists, the excuses will differ, thus the increasing disagreements among the dozens/hundreds/thousands of flavors of Creationism. Some of these micro yes, macro no Creationists claim that the restriction on evolution prevents the development of any new species, because they just can’t seem to understand that a lot of change can produce a dramatic difference. Other micro yes, macro no Creationists claim that this restriction prevents the evolution of any new genus. They claim that the story of the Ark saving 8 people from the murderous God of the Bible is the reason. This story is borrowed from the Babylonians, who taught the Israelites to write during the Babylonian captivity.[6]

Anyway, the story of the Ark mentions 19 Every beast, every creeping thing, and every fowl, and whatsoever creepeth upon the earth, after their kinds, went forth out of the ark.[7] This is a justification for being able to put billions of creatures on one supposedly seaworthy vessel. Not everything had evolved at the time, some evolved after their kinds after they disembarked. Two contradictions attacked with one excuse. Brilliant!

Some of the not-so-literalist Creationists accept that evolution is possible, as long as it does not produce a new species, because that would be too much. They insist that there must be an artificial limit on evolution.

Other not-so-literalist Creationists accept that evolution is possible, as long as it does not produce a new genus, because that would be too much. They insist that there must be an artificial limit on evolution.

Still other not-so-literalist Creationists accept that evolution is possible, as long as it does not produce a new family, because that would be too much. They insist that there must be an artificial limit on evolution.
 


Taxonomic Rank, from Wikipedia page
 

No matter what they have to invoke, all flavors of Creationist insist that there is some sort of artificial limit on evolution. Some Creationists insist that all evolution is prevented, while others accept varying amounts of evolution, rather than try to reject the overwhelming evidence.

We flawed humans must be explained, but their ambiguous creator must just be believed in all of its million different interpretations, and with all of its impossible contradictions – and all of the other Gods are just made up by people.

Footnotes:

[1] Constitution
Article III, Section 3
The Legal Information Institute
Article III

[2] Barry Goldwater
Wikiquote
 

Said in November 1994, as quoted in John Dean, Conservatives Without Conscience (2006).

 

[3] Barry Goldwater
Wikiquote
 

Said in July 1981 in response to Moral Majority founder Jerry Falwell’s opposition to the nomination of Sandra Day O’Connor to the Supreme Court, of which Falwell had said, “Every good Christian should be concerned.” as quoted in Ed Magnuson, “The Brethren’s First Sister,” Time Magazine, (July 20, 1981).
According to John Dean, Goldwater actually suggested that good Christians ought to kick Falwell in the “nuts”, but the news media “changed the anatomical reference.”
Dean, John (2008). Broken Government: How Republican Rule Destroyed the Legislative, Executive, and Judicial Branches. Penguin Group. “I know because I was there when he said it.”(2006).

 

A further irony is that there is nothing in the Bible that is even slightly critical of abortion, but the Bible thumpers lie about this. If you claim that Thou shalt not kill applies to abortion, you have to find someplace – any place where the Bible refers to abortion as killing. The Bible does not make that claim. The Christian sharia promoters make far more judgmental claims (judge not, lest ye be judged), because irony knows no bounds among fundamentalists.

The Bible states that life begins with the first breath. Genesis 2:7 and Job 33:4 and that a fetus is not a person Exodus 21:22. The Biblical literalists need to reinterpret the words to massage the meaning to be able to come up with something that allows them to claim their interpretation of their God agrees with them.

There is condemnation of divorce, by Jesus, but the religious right has chosen to vote for divorced leaders in order to get the political power that they want. Almost everything Jesus says in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) is a condemnation of the goals of the religious right in America today, but that is not the only place where Jesus condemns the religious right in America today.

Why do so many right wing Christians hate Jesus so much that they blaspheme Jesus?

If you want more information than provided above, read these:

The ‘biblical view’ that’s younger than the Happy Meal
February 18, 2012
Fred Clark
Article
 

In 1979, McDonald’s introduced the Happy Meal.

Sometime after that, it was decided that the Bible teaches that human life begins at conception.

 

and

The Not-So-Lofty Origins of the Evangelical Pro-Life Movement
February 5, 2013
Jonathan Dudley
Religion Dispatches
Article
 

Although evangelicals were mostly silent on abortion after Roe v. Wade, they were not silent on other political issues. Paul Weyrich, one of the evangelical right’s most influential founders, recalls that the movement initially emerged to defend racially segregated Christian schools from government intrusion:

 

Abortion was chosen as the rallying cry, because the religious right were losing ground defending segregation. Now abortion is the headline, while the religious right still work for segregation by more politically correct means.

[4] Nothing in Biology Makes Sense Except in the Light of Evolution
Theodosius Dobzhansky
The American Biology Teacher, Vol. 35, No. 3 (Mar., 1973)
Article in PDF format
 

I am a creationist and an evolutionist. Evolution is God’s, or Nature’s method of creation. Creation is not an event that happened in 4004 BC; it is a process that began some 10 billion years ago and is still under way.

 

Does the evolutionary doctrine clash with religious faith? It does not. It is a blunder to mistake the Holy Scriptures for elementary textbooks of astronomy, geology, biology, and anthropology. Only if symbols are construed to mean what they are not intended to mean can there arise imaginary, insoluble conflicts. As pointed out above, the blunder leads to blasphemy: the Creator is accused of systematic deceitfulness.

 

[5] The Book That Changed America: How Darwin’s Theory of Evolution Ignited a Nation
Randall Fuller

Read ‘The Book That Changed America’ for Darwin Day 2017
Sun, 12 Feb 2017
Rogue Medic
Article

and

Kirkus Review

and

January 24, 2017
Randy Dotinga
Christian Science Monitor
Review

[6] The Ark Before Noah: Decoding the Story of the Flood
Irving Finkel

Kirkus Review

and

How the ark changed shape
13 February, 2014
Will Gore
Catholic Herald
Article/Interview

Here is part of that interview with Irving Finkel from Catholic Herald:
 

We also discuss the negative reaction that his theories might provoke in some Christian quarters. He admits that those who tend towards a literalist reading of the Bible will never be persuaded of its links to the Babylonian era.

He hopes, though, that he is handling the topic sensitively. He is at pains to point out, for example, that, despite what some headlines have suggested, he is not claiming the Bible story to be wrong and that Noah’s Ark should be round. He has, he says, simply traced the origins of the story found in Genesis.

Finkel has resolved to make sure he maintains a sense of humour when dealing with critics. He’s obviously very content with the conclusions he has drawn. Behind that big beard it’s not hard to detect a smile as he says: “I can’t imagine somebody will find something that proves my ideas wrong, so if people reject them it doesn’t matter. People often reject things they don’t like and not necessarily on logical grounds. If I give a lecture and people throw vegetables, then so be it.”

 

Here is a video of a presentation by Irving Finkel.
 


 

[7] Genesis 8:19
King James Version
Verse at BibleHub in all versions

.

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.

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