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.
 

.

Why are we still intubating, when there is no evidence of benefit and we refuse to practice this “skill”?

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

The results are in from two studies comparing intubation with laryngeal airways. There continues to be no good reason to intubate cardiac arrest patients. There is no apparent benefit and the focus on this rarely used, and almost never practiced, procedure seems to be more for the feelings of the people providing treatment, than for the patients.
 

Patients with a short duration of cardiac arrest and who receive bystander resuscitation, defibrillation, or both, are considerably more likely to survive and are also less likely to require advanced airway management.22 This problem of confounding by indication is an important limitation of many large observational studies that show an association between advanced airway management and poor outcome in out-of-hospital cardiac arrest.23 This study found that 21.1% (360/1704) of patients who did not receive advanced airway management achieved a good outcome compared with 3.3% (251/7576) of patients who received advanced airway management.[1]

 

In other words, we are the least skilled, are the least experienced, and we have the least amount of practice, but we are attempting to perform a difficult airway skill under the least favorable conditions. Ironically, we claim to be doing what is best for the patient. We are corrupt, incompetent, or both.

We also do not have good evidence that any kind of active ventilation is indicated for cardiac arrest, unless the cardiac arrest is due to respiratory conditions. Passive ventilation, which is the result of high quality chest compressions, appears to produce better outcomes (several studies are listed at the end).

We need to stop considering our harmful interventions to be the standard and withholding harmful treatments to be the intervention. We are using interventions that have well known and serious adverse effects. This attempt to defend the status quo, at the expense of honesty, has not been beneficial to patients.
 

The ETI success rate of 51% observed in this trial is lower than the 90% success rate reported in a meta-analysis.29 The reasons for this discordance are unclear. Prior reports of higher success rates may be susceptible to publication bias.[2]

 

Is that intubation success rate lower than you claim for your organization? Prove it.
 

Another possibility is that some medical directors encourage early rescue SGA use to avoid multiple unsuccessful intubation attempts and to minimize chest compression interruptions.5 Few of the study EMS agencies had protocols limiting the number of allowed intubation attempts, so the ETI success rate was not the result of practice constraints.[2]

 

Is there any reason to interrupt chest compressions, which do improve outcomes that matter, to make it easier to intubate, which does not improve any outcomes that matter? No.
 

While the ETI proficiency of study clinicians might be questioned, the trial included a diverse range of EMS agencies and likely reflects current practice.[2]

 

This is the state of the art of intubation in the real world of American EMS. Making excuses shows that we are corrupt, incompetent, or both.
 


I no longer have the link, but I think that this image came from Rescue Digest a decade ago.
 

These results contrast with prior studies of OHCA airway management. Observational studies have reported higher survival with ETI than SGA, but they were nonrandomized, included a range of SGA types, and did not adjust for the timing of the airway intervention.9,10,31-34 [2]

 

We should start doing what is best for our patients.

We should not continue to defend resuscitation theater – putting on a harmful show to make ourselves feel good.

What would a competent anesthesiologist use in the prehospital setting? Something that offers a benefit to the patient.

There is also an editorial analyzing these two studies.[3]

It is time to start requiring evidence of benefit for everything we do to patients.

Our patients are too important to be subjected to witchcraft, based on opinions and an absence of research.

There is plenty of valid evidence that using only chest compressions improves 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.

 

It is not ethical to insist on giving treatments to patients in the absence of valid evidence of benefit to the patient. We need to begin to improve our ethics.

Also read/listen to these articles/podcasts released after I published this (I do not know the date of the Resus Room podcast) –

The Great Prehospital Airway Debate
August 31, 2018
Emergency Medicine Literature of Note
by Ryan Radecki
Article
 

EM Nerd-The Case of the Needless Imperative
August 31, 2018
EMNerd (EMCrit)
by Rory Spiegel
Article
 

Intubation or supraglottic airway in cardiac arrest; AIRWAYS-2
The Resus Room
Podcast with Simon Laing, Rob Fenwick, and James Yates with guest Professor Jonathan Benger, lead author of AIRWAYS-2.
Podcast, images, and notes
 

Footnotes:

[1] Effect of a Strategy of a Supraglottic Airway Device vs Tracheal Intubation During Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest on Functional Outcome: The AIRWAYS-2 Randomized Clinical Trial
Jonathan R. Benger, MD1; Kim Kirby, MRes1,2; Sarah Black, DClinRes2; et al Stephen J. Brett, MD3; Madeleine Clout, BSc4; Michelle J. Lazaroo, MSc4; Jerry P. Nolan, MBChB5,6; Barnaby C. Reeves, DPhil4; Maria Robinson, MOst2; Lauren J. Scott, MSc4,7; Helena Smartt, PhD4; Adrian South, BSc (Hons)2; Elizabeth A. Stokes, DPhil8; Jodi Taylor, PhD4,5; Matthew Thomas, MBChB9; Sarah Voss, PhD1; Sarah Wordsworth, PhD8; Chris A. Rogers, PhD4
August 28, 2018
JAMA. 2018;320(8):779-791.
doi:10.1001/jama.2018.11597

Abstract from JAMA.

[2] Effect of a Strategy of Initial Laryngeal Tube Insertion vs Endotracheal Intubation on 72-Hour Survival in Adults With Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest: A Randomized Clinical Trial
Henry E. Wang, MD, MS1,2; Robert H. Schmicker, MS3; Mohamud R. Daya, MD, MS4; et al Shannon W. Stephens, EMT-P2; Ahamed H. Idris, MD5; Jestin N. Carlson, MD, MS6,7; M. Riccardo Colella, DO, MPH8; Heather Herren, MPH, RN3; Matthew Hansen, MD, MCR4; Neal J. Richmond, MD9,10; Juan Carlos J. Puyana, BA7; Tom P. Aufderheide, MD, MS8; Randal E. Gray, MEd, NREMT-P2; Pamela C. Gray, NREMT-P2; Mike Verkest, AAS, EMT-P11; Pamela C. Owens5; Ashley M. Brienza, BS7; Kenneth J. Sternig, MS-EHS, BSN, NRP12; Susanne J. May, PhD3; George R. Sopko, MD, MPH13; Myron L. Weisfeldt, MD14; Graham Nichol, MD, MPH15
August 28, 2018
JAMA. 2018;320(8):769-778.
doi:10.1001/jama.2018.7044

Free Full Text from JAMA.

[3] Pragmatic Airway Management in Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest
Lars W. Andersen, MD, MPH, PhD1; Asger Granfeldt, MD, PhD, DMSc2
August 28, 2018
JAMA. 2018;320(8):761-763. doi:10.1001/jama.2018.10824

Abstract from JAMA.

.

A Randomized Trial of Epinephrine in Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest – Part I

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

The results are in from the only completed Adrenaline (Epinephrine in non-Commonwealth countries) vs. Placebo for Cardiac Arrest study.
 


 

Even I overestimated the possibility of benefit of epinephrine.

I had hoped that there would be some evidence to help identify patients who might benefit from epinephrine, but that is not the case.

PARAMEDIC2 (Prehospital Assessment of the Role of Adrenaline: Measuring the Effectiveness of Drug Administration in Cardiac Arrest) compared adrenaline (epinephrine) with placebo in a “randomized, double-blind trial involving 8014 patients with out-of-hospital cardiac arrest”.

More people survived for at least 30 days with epinephrine, which is entirely expected. There has not been any controversy about whether giving epinephrine produces pulses more often than not giving epinephrine. As with amiodarone (Nexterone and Pacerone), the question has been whether we are just filling the ICUs and nursing home beds with comatose patients.
 

There was no statistical evidence of a modification in treatment effect by such factors as the patient’s age, whether the cardiac arrest was witnessed, whether CPR was performed by a bystander, initial cardiac rhythm, or response time or time to trial-agent administration (Fig. S7 in the Supplementary Appendix). [1]

 

The secondary outcome is what everyone has been much more interested in – what are the neurological outcomes with adrenaline vs. without adrenaline?

The best outcome was no detectable neurological impairment.
 

the benefits of epinephrine that were identified in our trial are small, since they would result in 1 extra survivor for every 112 patients treated. This number is less than the minimal clinically important difference that has been defined in previous studies.29,30 Among the survivors, almost twice the number in the epinephrine group as in the placebo group had severe neurologic impairment.

Our work with patients and the public before starting the trial (as summarized in the Supplementary Appendix) identified survival with a favorable neurologic outcome to be a higher priority than survival alone. [1]

 


Click on the image to make it larger.
 

Are there some patients who will do better with epinephrine than without?

Maybe (I would have written probably, before these results), but we still do not know how to identify those patients.

Is titrating tiny amounts of epinephrine, to observe for response, reasonable? What response would we be looking for? Wat do we do if we observe that response? We have been using epinephrine for over half a century and we still don’t know when to use it, how much to use, or how to identify the patients who might benefit.

I will write more about these results later

We now have evidence that, as with amiodarone, we should only be using epinephrine as part of well controlled trials.

Also see –

How Bad is Epinephrine (Adrenaline) for Cardiac Arrest, According to the PARAMEDIC2 Study?

Footnotes:

[1] 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

All supplementary material is also available at the end of the article at the NEJM site in PDF format –

Protocol

Supplementary Appendix

Disclosure Forms

There is also an editorial, which I have not yet read, by Clifton W. Callaway, M.D., Ph.D., and Michael W. Donnino, M.D. –

Testing Epinephrine for Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest.
Callaway CW, Donnino MW.
N Engl J Med. 2018 Jul 18. doi: 10.1056/NEJMe1808255. [Epub ahead of print] No abstract available.
PMID: 30021078

Free Full Text from NEJM

.

Comment on Irresponsibility and Intubation – The EMS Standard Of Care

 

I wrote about the petition to protect paramedic incompetence in Irresponsibility and Intubation – The EMS Standard Of Care

Nathan Boone responded with the following comment
 

You’re forgetting about the rural medic out there.

 

No. I am not.

Are you suggesting that bad airway management for a longer period of time is less harmful than bad airway management for a shorter period of time?
 


 

Where we are with our patients for more then a hour, not 5 mintues.

 

The harm from incompetent airway management does not depend on distance from the hospital. Intubation even kills patients in the hospital.

You may believe that the efficacy of voodoo is directly related to the distance from the hospital, but it appears to be only your belief that increases.

Voodoo does not work, regardless of the distance from the hospital.

If the paramedic cannot manage an airway, the paramedic should not be permitted to intubate.
 

Sometimes air- craft isn’t available if its raining or on another call.. You want us to use a bvm and take chance of filling the patients stomic up for over a hour.. Yes we can be extremely careful and do everything in our power not to fill the stomic but there’s some patients out there who have difficult airways where bagging can be extremely difficult and or impossible.

 

Give incompetent paramedics dangerous tools to try to manage difficult airways because of distance? Wouldn’t it be better to try to make them competent – or to limit intubation to competent paramedics?

Intubation and BVM (Bag Valve Mask) are not the only forms of ventilation.
 

Rsi does save patients in rural areas, we need intubations..

 

Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe RSI kills more patients than it saves.

Actually, what I mean to write is, Maybe paramedics using RSI kill more patients than they save.

If you want to claim otherwise, prove it with high-quality research.

Unless you can provide high-quality research, your plastic airway religion is just another alt-med scam.

If your patients are important, then you need to demand that we find out what is best for the patients.
 

Do I believe that Rsi is risky and their is some medics out there who would rather make the patient more hypoxic then before until they give up and go to a secondary airway..absolutely.. But to take it away from Rural Medics when we can have anything to burn patients to anaphylactic reactions and to take our ONLY definitive airway;away from us..

 

You seem to think that RSI (Rapid Sequence Induction of anesthesia) becomes less risky the farther you are from the hospital.

Why?

Incompetence for a longer period will be expected to cause more harm.

Sometimes the incompetence of the paramedic doesn’t kill the patient.
 

Trauma patients were significantly more likely to have misplaced ETTs than medical patients (37% versus 14%, P<.01). With one exception, all the patients found to have esophageal tube placement exhibited the absence of ETCO2 on patient arrival. In the exception, the patient was found to be breathing spontaneously despite a nasotracheal tube placed in the esophagus.[1]

 

The patient clearly did not need intubation.

As with the crash of Trooper 2 in Maryland, the survival of the patient for hours in the woods, in the rain, following the helicopter crash that killed all of the other healthy people on board, was clear evidence that there was no reason to send this patient to the trauma center by air.

The same argument was provided by people, including Dr. Thomas Scalea, the head of Shock Trauma – If you don’t let us have our toys, people will die![2]

The rate of helicopter transport of trauma patients was dramatically cut.

That was almost a decade ago and we are still waiting for the dead bodies.

I expect that the same failure of prophesy will occur, when incompetent paramedics are prevented from intubating.

I expect that the fatality rate will decrease, when incompetent paramedics are prevented from intubating.
 

I think you’re out of your mind.

 

Many religious fanatics do.
 

In the city, I can maybe defend you. But the studies need to be done out in the sticks as well. I believe that we should have to go outpatient surgery every year or 2 or have number set of how many we need in that time period successfully to keep our skills sharp..

 

Every year or two?

WTF?

You don’t want to be taken seriously, do you?

This is something that requires a lot of skill and practice, so I get just a tiny bit, every other year. Trust me with your life.
 

After a Rsi and I have no one in the back but myself for over an hour.., I can place the patient on a vent and care for my patient. If RSI is taken away. I loose the capability to monitor my patient, and would be more focused on bagging my patient, or making sure the secondary away isn’t failing and I’m filling the stomic on the vent, because it can happen.

 

It is just a staffing issue.

That is different.

Competence isn’t needed when you are in the back by yourself.

Why are you opposed to competence?

Where is a single reasonable argument that intubation improves outcomes?

Where is a single reasonable argument that rural paramedics have an intubation success rate that is above 95%?

Even 95% means that some of your patients don’t end up with a properly placed endotracheal tube. What do you think happens to them?

Does your EMS agency have a better than 95% intubation success rate?

If you can’t manage at least 95%, why do you believe you can manage intubation?

Is each intubation on video, or do they just believe whatever you tell them?

If you want to be taken seriously, these are just some of the essential points to address.
 

This is not a new topic. You might also read the series below:

In Defense of Intubation Incompetence – Part I

In Defense of Intubation Incompetence – Part II

In Defense of Intubation Incompetence – Part III

How Accurate are We at Rapid Sequence Intubation for Pediatric Emergency Patients – Part I

How Accurate are We at Rapid Sequence Intubation for Pediatric Emergency Patients – Part II

Footnotes:

[1] Misplaced endotracheal tubes by paramedics in an urban emergency medical services system.
Katz SH, Falk JL.
Ann Emerg Med. 2001 Jan;37(1):32-7.
PMID: 11145768 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

Free Full Text PDF

[2] Helicopters and Bad Science
Thu, 09 Oct 2008
Rogue Medic
Article

.

Irresponsibility and Intubation – The EMS Standard Of Care

 

There is a petition to save EMS intubation, but it claims to be a petition to save patients. The petition is not to save patients.
 


Image source
Details here and here.
 

The petition states that its intent is to protect patients, but it does not provide any evidence. It only makes the same claims that every other quack makes to promote his snake oil.

We are worse than homeopaths, because homeopaths do not actively harm patients by depriving patients of oxygen, as we do when we intubate.
 

 
We are the quack, witch doctor, homeopath, horseshit peddlers Dara O’Briain is describing.

 

Today we are possibly facing the removal of the most effective airway intervention at our disposal as paramedics, endotracheal intubation.[1]

 

Most effective?

There is some evidence that intubation can be – in limited situations, by highly trained, competent people – beneficial. There is also plenty of evidence that intubation is harmful. It is easy to kill someone by taking away the patient’s airway.

Most effective?

No.

This petition does not mention evidence, so it has no credibility when it comes to claims of whether intubation is effective. This petition expects us to believe in a faerie tale of magical improvement with intubation. This petition wants us to clap for Tinkerbell, because If we believe hard enough, it just might come true. Grow up.
 

Please sign this petition so that these patients have a chance to live[1]

 

Prove that requiring higher standards for intubation would take away a patient’s chance to live.

Prove that intubation improves outcomes.

This is a petition to keep standards low for paramedics.

This petition does not mention competence, or even what is involved in competence, because this petition is opposition to competence.

This is the Protect Incompetent Paramedics from Responsibility Petition.

Responsibility is for professionals. In EMS, we reject responsibility.

We are more concerned with whether our shoes are shiny, than whether we are harming, or helping, our patients. The reason EMS exists is to improve outcomes for patients.

We don’t deliver competent care, but only the appearance of competence. We are medical theater, putting on a fancy show. The TSA (Transportation Security Administration) is the same – all appearance and no substance.

Most effective? Maybe intubation is the most effective theater.

The outcomes of our patients are affected, but we refuse to learn if we are helping, harming, or doing equal amounts of harm and help.

We actually oppose learning. We are willfully ignorant – and proud of our defiant stand for ignorance.

How much hypoxia do we cause in our attempts to place the so called gold standard? The actual gold standard is helping the patient to protect his own airway, but who cares what’s best for the patient? Not those who sign the petition.

How much vomiting, and aspiration, do we cause?

How much airway swelling do we cause?

How many airway infections do we cause?

How much harm do we cause?

We don’t know. We don’t care. We oppose attempts to find out.

We are EMS and we believe that our actions should be protected from examination, because we are beautiful and unique snowflakes who demand our participation trophies without doing real work required to be competent.

Go ahead, snowflakes, demonstrate your incompetence by signing the petition, because this protect intubation petition is really a protect incompetence petition.

If we want to continue to intubate, and we want to improve outcomes for our patients, we need to demonstrate that intubation by EMS provides significant benefit and which patients are most likely to benefit. We can’t do that because we don’t care enough about our patients.
 

Brian Behn has a different reason for not signing the petition for low standards – Why I am Not Signing The Petition About Intubation.

Dave Konig also comments on the petition for low standards – Is ET Intubation Joining Backboards In Protocol?

Footnotes:

[1] Allow paramedics to continue to save lives with endotracheal intubation!
Anthony Gantenbein United States
Petition site

.

2016 – Amiodarone is Useless, but Ketamine Gets Another Use

amiodarone-edit-1
 

I didn’t write a lot in 2016, but 2016 may have been the year we put the final nail in the coffin of amiodarone. Two major studies were published and both were very negative for amiodarone.

If we give enough amiodarone to have an effect on ventricular tachycardia, it will usually be a negative effect.[1]

Only 38% of ventricular tachycardia patients improved after amiodarone, but 48% had major adverse cardiac events after amiodarone.

There are better drugs, including adenosine, sotalol, procainamide, and ketamine for ventricular tachycardia. Sedation and cardioversion is a much better choice. Cardioversion is actually expected after giving amiodarone.

For cardiac arrest, amiodarone is not any better than placebo or lidocaine. What ever happened to the study of amiodarone that was showing such wonderful results over a decade ago? It still hasn’t been published, so it is reasonable to conclude that the results were negative for amiodarone. It is time to make room in the drug bag for something that works.[2],[3]

On the other hand, now that we have improved the quality of CPR by focusing on compressions, rather than drugs, more patients are waking up while chest compressions are being performed, but without spontaneous circulation, so ketamine has another promising use. And ketamine is still good for sedation for intubation, for getting a patient to tolerate high flow oxygen, for agitated delirium, for pain management, . . . .[4],[5]

Masimo’s RAD 57 still doesn’t have any evidence that it works well on real patients.[6]

When intubating, breathe. Breathing is good. Isn’t inability to breathe the reason for intubation?[7]

Footnotes:

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

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

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

[4] What do you do when a patient wakes up during CPR?
Tue, 08 Mar 2016
Rogue Medic
Article

[5] Ketamine For Anger Management
Sun, 06 Mar 2016
Rogue Medic
Article

[6] The RAD-57 – Still Unsafe?
Wed, 03 Feb 2016
Rogue Medic
Article

[7] Should you hold your breath while intubating?
Tue, 19 Jan 2016
Rogue Medic
Article

.

Should you hold your breath while intubating?

 

This is one of the ancient bits of street wisdom common sense about intubating. If you hold your breath while intubating, you will know when the patient needs to take a breath.

As with much of common sense, it is based on mythology.
 

Never take more than 30 seconds per attempt at each intubation!
Hint: Hold your breath while intubating – when you need to take a breath, so does the patient!
[1]

 

60 pct of the time, it works every time 1
Typical intubation instructor?
 

Obviously, this idea came about long before apneic oxygenation. No, . . . . Wait, it could be that apneic oxygenation came first, since papers were being written about apneic oxygenation long before paramedics were sent out to spread the word of the benefits of unrecognized esophageal intubation close enough for prehospital intubation.[2],[3],[4]

It could be that some anesthesiologists thought breath holding while intubating was a good idea, but I did not find any papers.

Apneic oxygenation can prevent desaturation for much longer than 30 seconds, yet many of us still emphasize fast and bloody, rather than slow and benign.

If the patient can hold her breath for as long as I can, she may be breathing as well as I am breathing, and may not need to be intubated. How do I really know when my patient needs to take a breath?

If I can only hold my breath for as long as a patient who needs to be intubated, then I may be breathing as badly as she is, and I may need intubation more than she does. How long can a paramedic hold his breath before becoming hypoxic and/or confused? How good am I at recognizing this change when I am focused on putting the little plastic tube in the slightly larger cartilage and flesh tube?

If the patient does not need to be intubated, why intubate? If I need to be intubated, should I be the one intubating anyone else? If I can hold my breath longer than the average paramedic, should I take up smoking to make this technique work for me? Should we be testing paramedics on how long a breath can be held as part of the hiring process?

I am shocked that such a simple one size fits all approach fails to consider even one of the many variables that would affect its use. How could that possibly happen in EMS?

Footnotes:

[1] Widely circulated, unwritten paper
The Mythbuilders of EMS
Trust us.
We know what we’re doing.

[2] Oxygen uptake in human lungs without spontaneous or artificial pulmonary ventilation.
ENGHOFF H, HOLMDAHL MH, RISHOLM L.
Acta Chir Scand. 1952 Jul 14;103(4):293-301. No abstract available.
PMID: 12985091

[3] Pulmonary uptake of oxygen, acid-base metabolism, and circulation during prolonged apnoea.
HOLMDAHL MH.
Acta Chir Scand Suppl. 1956;212:1-128. No abstract available.
PMID: 13326155

[4] Apneic oxygenation in man.
FRUMIN MJ, EPSTEIN RM, COHEN G.
Anesthesiology. 1959 Nov-Dec;20:789-98. No abstract available.
PMID: 13825447

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Our current ambulance system is based on little scientific evidence

 

Our current ambulance system is based on little scientific evidence.

This is one comment by Prachi Sanghavi that has some paramedics very upset.

The video of her short speech at Harvard was posted on EMS1.com[1] and the responses suggested that there is something horribly wrong in the statement, or in any of what followed. There isn’t.
 


 

The problem is with the attitude of those who think that they know everything.

The problem is with the people who oppose finding out if treatments work.

The problem is with people who oppose protecting our patients from harmful treatments.

Prachi Sanghavi discusses the difference between BLS (Basic Life Support) treatment and ALS (Advanced Life Support) treatment. BLS includes all of the prehospital treatment that have evidence of benefit. All of them. ALS includes all of the cool things that paramedics and doctors do before getting to the hospital based on a wish and a prayer, but not on any valid evidence.
 


 

This is a comparison of cardiac arrest outcomes between two similar counties looking at the lack of expected benefit with ALS. There are more variables than just ALS vs. BLS, but we do need to ask Why are these cardiac arrest outcomes so bad with ALS?

Prachi Sanghavi is incorrect about a few things. Paramedics generally use a manual defibrillator, not a semi-automatic defibrillator. Taking longer at a cardiac arrest scene is probably not a problem. Those patients transported without pulses can be expected to end up in the morgue. Moving the patient with ineffective compressions, rather than staying on scene to do compressions well, is not recommended, because it is not supported by evidence. Rushing the patient to the hospital is just rushing the patient to ALS in a building. Yes, there is more ALS available at the hospital, but nothing that has good evidence of improving outcomes. Therapeutic hypothermia, is part of post-resuscitation treatment, not resuscitation treatment. That may change.[2]

Prachi Sanghavi also looked at trauma, stroke, and heart attack. The results were the same. Patients had better outcomes with Basic Life Support.

Our response should be to ask questions.

Are we doing something wrong?

What evidence do we have that ALS treatment improves outcomes?

The problem is that we ignore evidence and make excuses for our willful ignorance.

We are slow to adopt ALS treatments that have good evidence of improving outcomes and much, much slower to get rid of treatments that have only the weakest evidence of benefit – expert opinion. Expert opinion is the basis for all treatments that are later demonstrated to be harmful, so expert opinion isn’t worth bragging about. Real experts understand and learn from the evidence.

Should we trust the people criticizing the message that Maybe more is not better, or should we examine what we have been doing to find out what works?

Why are we opposed to providing the best care we can?

Footnotes:

[1] Researcher: Is BLS better than ALS?
EMS1.com
November 13, 2015
Article

[1] Refractory cardiac arrest treated with mechanical CPR, hypothermia, ECMO and early reperfusion (the CHEER trial).
Stub D, Bernard S, Pellegrino V, Smith K, Walker T, Sheldrake J, Hockings L, Shaw J, Duffy SJ, Burrell A, Cameron P, Smit de V, Kaye DM.
Resuscitation. 2015 Jan;86:88-94. doi: 10.1016/j.resuscitation.2014.09.010. Epub 2014 Oct 2.
PMID: 25281189

Free Full Text from Resuscitation.

This is a tiny study that suggests a grouping of treatments that may work (or that may include a treatment, or two, that may lead to improved outcomes. The results are good, but it is just one tiny study that needs replication and each of the treatments should be studied individually.

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