Emergency physicians are using bolus-dose vasopressors to temporize hypotensive patients until more definitive blood pressure support can be established. Despite a paucity of clinical outcome data, emergency department applications are expanding into the prehospital setting. This series presents two cases of field expedient vasopressor use by emergency medicine providers for preflight stabilization during aeromedical evacuation to a hospital ship as part of the United States Navy disaster response in Puerto Rico. A critical approach and review of the literature are discussed.
Two critically ill patients were managed in an austere environment as a result of the devastation from Hurricane Maria (Yabucoa, Puerto Rico; 2017). They both exhibited signs of respiratory distress, hemodynamic instability, and distributive shock requiring definitive airway management and hemodynamic support prior to aeromedical evacuation.
The novel use of field expedient vasopressors prior to induction for rapid sequence intubation was successfully and safely employed in both cases. Both patients had multiple risk factors for peri-induction cardiac arrest given their presenting hemodynamics. Despite their illness severity, both patients were induced, transported, and ultimately admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU) in stable condition following administration of the field expedient vasopressors.
Field expedient vasopressors were safely and effectively employed in an austere field environment during a disaster response. This case series contributes to the growing body of literature of safe bolus-dose vasopressor use by emergency physicians to temporize hypotensive patients in resource-constrained situations.