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Emergency physicians play an important role in providing care at the end-of-life as well as identifying patients who may benefit from a palliative approach. Several studies have shown that emergency medicine (EM) residents desire further training in palliative care. We performed a national cross-sectional survey of EM program directors. Our primary objective was to describe the number of Canadian postgraduate EM training programs with palliative and end-of-life care curricula.
A 15-question survey in English and French was sent by email to all program directors of both the Canadian College of Family Physicians emergency medicine (CCFP(EM)) and the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada emergency medicine (RCPSC-EM) postgraduate training programs countrywide using FluidSurveys™ with a modified Dillman approach.
We received a total of 26 responses from the 36 (response rate = 72.2%) EM postgraduate programs in Canada. Ten out of 26 (38.5%) programs had a structured educational program pertaining to palliative and end-of-life care. Lectures or seminars were the exclusive choice to teach content. Clinical palliative medicine rotations were mandatory in one out of 26 (3.8%) programs. The top two barriers to implementation of palliative and end-of-life care curricula were lack of time (84.6%) and curriculum development concerns (80.8%).
Palliative and end-of-life care training within EM has been identified as an area of need. This cross-sectional survey demonstrates that a minority of Canadian EM programs have palliative and end-of-life care curricula. It will be important for all EM training programs, RCPSC-EM and CCFP(EM), in Canada, to develop an agreed upon set of competencies and to structure their curricula around them.
The Canadian Stroke Best Practice Recommendations suggests that patients suspected of transient ischemic attack (TIA)/minor stroke receive urgent brain imaging, preferably computed tomography angiography (CTA). Yet, high requisition rates for non-cerebrovascular patients overburden limited radiological resources, putting patients at risk. We hypothesize that our clinical decision support tool (CDST) developed for risk stratification of TIA in the emergency department (ED), and which incorporates Canadian guidelines, could improve CTA utilization.
Retrospective study design with clinical information gathered from ED patient referrals to an outpatient TIA unit in Victoria, BC, from 2015-2016. Actual CTA orders by ED and TIA unit staff were compared to hypothetical CTA ordering if our CDST had been used in the ED upon patient arrival.
For 1,679 referrals, clinicians ordered 954 CTAs. Our CDST would have ordered a total of 977 CTAs for these patients. Overall, this would have increased the number of imaged-TIA patients by 89 (10.1%) while imaging 98 (16.1%) fewer non-cerebrovascular patients over the 2-year period. Our CDST would have ordered CTA for 18 (78.3%) of the recurrent stroke patients in the sample.
Our CDST could enhance CTA utilization in the ED for suspected TIA patients, and facilitate guideline-based stroke care. Use of our CDST would increase the number of TIA patients receiving CTA before ED discharge (rather than later at TIA units) and reduce the burden of imaging stroke mimics in radiological departments.
Stroke and transient ischemic attack (TIA) are common disorders treated by Canadian emergency physicians. The diagnosis and management of these conditions is time-sensitive and complex, requiring that emergency physicians have adequate training. This study sought to determine the extent of stroke and TIA training in Canadian emergency medicine residency programs.
A two-page survey was emailed to directors of all English-speaking emergency medicine residency programs in Canada. This included both the Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Canada (FRCPC) and the College of Family Physicians Enhanced Training [CCFP(EM)] residency programs. The number of mandatory and elective rotations, lectures, and examinations relevant to stroke and TIA were assessed.
Nine FRCPC programs responded (of 11; RR=82%) and 11 CCFP(EM) programs responded (of 18; RR=61%), representing 20 of 29 programs in Canada (RR: 20/29=69%). Mandatory general neurology (3/9) and stroke neurology (2/9) rotations were offered in a minority of FRCPC programs and not at all in CCFP(EM) programs (0/11). Neuroradiology rotations were mandatory in 1/9 FRCPC programs and no CCFP(EM) programs (0/11). Acute ischemic stroke was allocated 3 hours of lecture time per year in all residency programs, regardless of route of training. Despite the fact that 100% of respondents train residents in facilities that administer thrombolysis for stroke, only 1/11 (9%) CCFP(EM) programs and 0/9 FRCPC programs have residents act as stroke team leaders.
Formal training in stroke and TIA is limited in Canadian emergency medicine residency programs. Enhanced training opportunities should be developed as this disease is sudden, life-threatening, and can have disabling or fatal consequences, and therapeutic options are time sensitive.