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Worldwide, tobacco smoke is still the leading cause of preventable morbidity and mortality. Many smokers develop chronic smoking-related conditions that require emergency department (ED) visits. However, best practices for ED smoking cessation counselling are still unclear.
A randomized controlled trial was conducted to determine whether an “ask, advise, and refer” approach increases 12-month, 30-day quit rates in the stable adult ED smoking population compared to usual care. Patients in the intervention group were referred to a community counselling service that offers a quitline, a text-based program, and a Web-based program. Longitudinal intention-to-treat analyses were performed.
From November 2011 to March 2013, 1,295 patients were enrolled from one academic tertiary care ED. Six hundred thirty-five were allocated to usual care, and 660 were allocated to intervention. Follow-up data were available for 70% of all patients at 12 months. There was no statistically significant difference in 12-month, 30-day quit rates between the two groups. However, there was a trend towards higher 7-day quit attempts, 7-day quit rates, and 30-day quit rates at 3, 6, and 12 months in the intervention group.
In this study, there was a trend towards increased smoking cessation following referral to a community counselling service. There was no statistically significant difference. However, if ED smoking cessation efforts were to provide even a small positive effect, such an intervention may have a significant public health impact given the extensive reach of emergency physicians.
Objectives: To examine the effect of pre-injury alcohol use, acute alcohol intoxication, and post-injury alcohol use on outcome from mild to moderate traumatic brain injury (TBI). Methods: Prospective inception cohort of patients who presented to the Emergency Department with mild to moderate TBI and had a blood alcohol level (BAL) taken for clinical purposes. Those who completed the 1-year outcome assessment were eligible for this study (N=91). Outcomes of interest were the count of post-concussion symptoms (British Columbia Post-Concussion Symptom Inventory), low neuropsychological test scores (Neuropsychological Assessment Battery), and abnormal regions of interest on diffusion tensor imaging (low fractional anisotropy). The main predictors were pre-injury alcohol consumption (Cognitive Lifetime Drinking History interview), BAL, and post-injury alcohol use. Results: The alcohol use variables were moderately to strongly inter-correlated. None of the alcohol use variables (whether continuous or categorical) were related to 1-year TBI outcomes in generalized linear modeling. Participants in this cohort generally had a good clinical outcome, regardless of their pre-, peri-, and post-injury alcohol use. Conclusions: Alcohol may not significantly alter long-term outcome from mild to moderate TBI. (JINS, 2016, 22, 816–827)
The use of dantrolene in the treatment of hyperpyrexia related to MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine) is controversial, with little data available to guide clinical decision-making. Although the treatment is recommended by several poison control centres, published data are primarily in the form of case reports and animal and in vitro experiments. We conducted a systematic review to investigate the published evidence regarding the safety and benefits of dantrolene for MDMA-related hyperpyrexia in humans.
A systematic search of Embase and MEDLINE was conducted from the earliest possible date to November 2008.
All human trials and case reports of MDMA-related hyperpyrexia were considered.
Data were abstracted systematically and characteristics including use of dantrolene, adverse reactions attributed to dantrolene, peak temperature, complications from MDMA-related hyperpyrexia and survival were recorded.
Our search yielded 668 articles of which 53, reporting 71 cases of MDMA-induced hyperpyrexia, met our inclusion criteria. No clinical trials, randomized controlled trials, observational studies or meta-analyses were identified. Dantrolene was used in 26 cases. Patient characteristics were similar in the dantrolene and no dantrolene groups. The proportion of survivors was higher in the dantrolene group (21/26) than in the no dantrolene group (25/45). This difference was especially pronounced in those with extreme (≥ 42°C) and severe (≥ 40°C) fever, with a survival rate of 8 of 13 and 10 of 10, respectively, in the dantrolene group compared with 0 of 4 and 15 of 27 in the no dantrolene group. There were no reports of adverse events attributable to dantrolene with the exception of a possible association with an episode of transient hypoglycemia.
Our systematic review suggests that dantrolene is safe for patients with MDMA-related hyperpyrexia. Dantrolene may also be associated with improved survival and reduced complications, especially in patients with extreme (≥ 42°C) or severe (≥ 40°C) hyperpyrexia, although this conclusion must be interpreted with caution given the risk of reporting or publication bias.
The tolerability of drugs prescribed on emergency department (ED) discharge is unknown. Our objectives were to quantify and describe adverse drug-related events (ADREs) as reported by patients triaged as Canadian Emergency Department Triage and Acuity Scale scores 3, 4 or 5, discharged from the ED with prescriptions.
This prospective observational study was a planned substudy of a larger study on adherence to discharge prescriptions. This study was conducted in a tertiary care centre with an annual ED census of 69 000 visits. The primary outcome was the frequency of ADREs reported during a structured telephone questionnaire 2 weeks after ED discharge. An ADRE was deemed to have occurred if the patient reported a symptom consistent with a known ADRE that began and resolved within a plausible time frame after starting and stopping the drug, and if no alternative diagnosis was probable.
Research assistants contacted 258/301 (85.7%) patients discharged from the ED with a prescription. An ADRE was reported by 54/258 patients (20.9%, 95% confidence interval [CI] 16.4%–26.3%). The most commonly reported ADREs were nausea, constipation and drowsiness. None required hospital admission or caused death. Participants reporting ADREs were not more likely to make an unplanned ED or clinic revisit (crude odds ratio [OR] 1.1, 95% CI 0.6–2.2; adjusted OR 1.2, 95% CI 0.6–2.4).
Approximately one-fifth of low-acuity patients prescribed medication on discharge from the ED report ADREs, but most of these are neither severe nor associated with an increase in use of health services. Attention to common preventable ADREs, such as opioid-associated constipation, could reduce the rate of ADREs in this population.
During the past 7 years, considerable new evidence has accumulated supporting the use of prophylactic hypothermia for traumatic brain injury (TBI). Studies can be divided into 2 broad categories: studies with protocols for cooling for a short, predetermined period (e.g., 24–48 h), and those that cool for longer periods and/or terminate based on the normalization of intracranial pressure (ICP). There have been no systematic reviews of hypothermia for TBI that include this recent new evidence.
This analysis followed the recommendations of the Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions and the QUOROM (quality of reporting of meta-analyses) statement. We developed a comprehensive search strategy to identify all randomized controlled trials (RCTs) comparing therapeutic hypothermia with standard management in TBI patients. We searched Embase, MEDLINE, Web of Science, the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, ProceedingsFirst and PapersFirst. Additional relevant articles were identified by hand-searching conference proceedings and bibliographies. All stages of study identification and selection, quality assessment and analysis were conducted according to prospectively defined criteria. Study quality was determined by assessment of each study for the use of allocation concealment and outcome assessment blinding. Studies were divided into 2 a priori–defined subgroups for analysis based on cooling strategy: short term (≤ 48 h), and long term or goal-directed (> 48 h and/or continued until normalization of ICP). Outcomes included mortality and good neurologic outcome (defined as Glasgow Outcome Scale score of 4 or 5). Pooling of primary outcomes was completed using relative risk (RR) and reported with 95% confidence intervals (CIs).
Of 1709 articles, 12 studies with 1327 participants were selected for quantitative analysis. Eight of these studies cooled according to a long-term or goal-directed strategy, and 4 used a short-term strategy. Summary results demonstrated lower mortality (RR 0.73, 95% CI 0.62–0.85) and more common good neurologic outcome (RR 1.52, 95% CI 1.28–1.80). When only short-term cooling studies were analyzed, neither mortality (RR 0.98, 95% CI 0.75–1.30) nor neurologic outcome (RR 1.31, 95% CI 0.94–1.83) were improved. In 8 studies of long-term or goal-directed cooling, mortality was reduced (RR 0.62, 95% CI 0.51–0.76) and good neurologic outcome was more common (RR 1.68, 95% CI 1.44–1.96).
The best available evidence to date supports the use of early prophylactic mild-to-moderate hypothermia in patients with severe TBI (Glasgow Coma Scale score ≤ 8) to decrease mortality and improve rates of good neurologic recovery. This treatment should be commenced as soon as possible after injury (e.g., in the emergency department after computed tomography) regardless of initial ICP, or before ICP is measured. Most studies report using a temperature of 32°–34°C. The maximal benefit occurred with a long-term or goal-directed cooling protocol, in which cooling was continued for at least 72 hours and/or until stable normalization of intracranial pressure for at least 24 hours was achieved. There is large potential for further research on this therapy in prehospital and emergency department settings.
Nonadherence to prescribed medication is associated with increased morbidity and mortality as well as the increased use of health services. The main objective of our study was to assess the incidence of prescription-filling and medication adherence in patients discharged from the emergency department (ED).
This was a prospective, observational study carried out at a Canadian tertiary care ED with an annual census of 69 000. We enrolled a convenience sample of patients being discharged with a prescription. We queried a provincial prescription-dispensing database 2 weeks later to determine whether prescriptions had been filled. We used a standardized follow-up interview to assess adherence and whether or not the patient experienced an adverse drug-related event (ADRE) or an unplanned revisit to an ED or clinic.
Of the 301 patients who agreed to participate, follow-up was successful for 258 (85.7%). Fifty-one patients (19.8%, 95% confidence interval [CI] 15.4%–25.1%) failed to fill their discharge prescriptions and 104 (40.3%, 95% CI 34.5%–46.4%) did not adhere to 1 or more medications. Antibiotics were associated with a lower odds ratio (OR) of nonadherence (OR 0.21, 95% CI 0.08–0.52). There was a trend toward increasing nonadherence in patients who reported an ADRE (OR 1.84, 95% CI 0.98–3.48) or had 2 or more medications coprescribed (OR 1.71, 95% CI 0.95–3.09). There was also a trend toward a higher risk of a revisit to an ED or clinic in nonadherent patients (OR 1.75, 95% CI 0.94–3.25).
Approximately 4 in 10 patients discharged from the ED did not adhere to his or her prescribed medication. Our results suggest that patients who are prescribed antibiotics are more likely to be adherent, and that further evaluation of the associations between nonadherence, ADREs, the coprescription of 2 or more medications and the use of health services is warranted.
For many patients with addiction and other substance problems, the emergency department (ED) is the sole provider of medical care. This study sought to determine the prevalence and characteristics of substance-related medical problems in ED patients, as defined by documentation in the medical record. We also sought to compare the ED resource use (length of ED stay and number of revisits) of patients with and without substance problems.
Trained evaluators using explicit criteria reviewed all ED charts during a 6-week period at a Canadian tertiary care teaching centre. Data was collected on demographics, documentation of problematic substance use and whether the ED visit was due to substance problems. Using a computerized database, we determined how many patients with and without substance problems had 1 or more subsequent ED visits during the 1-year period from Sept. 1, 2002, to Aug. 31, 2003.
Of 6064 visits made by 5194 patients, 6026 visits (99.4%) representing 5188 patients (99.9%) were captured for review. Of those visits, 674 (11.2%, 95% confidence interval [CI] 10.4%–12.0%), made by 600 patients, had documentation of problematic substance use and 521 visits (8.6%, 95% CI 7.9%–9.4%) by 469 patients were caused by substance problems. The mean age of patients with a visit due to a substance problem was 39.2 years, compared with 48.5 years for those with other visits (p < 0.001). The admission rate for substance-related visits was 25.3%, compared with 17.6% for other visits (p < 0.001). For discharged patients, the median length of the ED visit owing to substance-related problems lasted 232 minutes (IQR [interquartile range] 267 min), compared with 164 minutes (IQR 167 min) for other visits (p < 0.001). In 1 year of follow-up, 161 of 600 patients (26.8%) with a substance problem made 466 revisits (mean 0.78 revisits/patient), compared with 975 of 4588 patients (21.3%) without a substance problem who made a total of 2150 revisits (mean 0.47 revisits/patient, p < 0.001).
Substance problems contribute significantly to ED visits, hospital admissions and duration of ED stay at a tertiary centre. It is likely that our methodology underestimates the scope of the problem and that a universal screening program would find a higher prevalence. The magnitude of this problem supports the need for an interdisciplinary identification and intervention program for ED patients with substance-related issues.
Inadequate hospital stocking and the unavailability of essential antidotes is a worldwide problem with potentially disastrous repercussions for poisoned patients. Research indicates minimal progress has been made in the resolution of this issue in both urban and rural hospitals. In response to this issue the British Columbia Drug and Poison Information Centre developed provincial antidote stocking guidelines in 2003. We sought to determine the compliance with antidote stocking in BC hospitals and any factors associated with inadequate supply.
A 2-part survey, consisting of hospital demographics and antidote stocking information, was distributed in 2005 to all acute care hospital pharmacy directors in BC. The 32 antidotes examined (21 deemed essential) and the definitions of adequacy were based on the 2003 BC guidelines. Availability was reported as number of antidotes stocked per hospital and proportion of hospitals stocking each antidote. For secondary purposes, we assessed factors potentially associated with inadequate stocking.
Surveys were completed for all 79 (100%) hospitals. A mean of 15.6 ± 4.9 antidotes were adequately stocked per hospital. Over 90% of hospitals had adequate stocks of N-acetylcysteine, activated charcoal, naloxone, calcium salts, flumazenil and vitamin K; 71%–90% had adequate dextrose 50% in water (D50W), ethyl alcohol or fomepizole, polyethylene glycol electrolyte solution, protamine sulfate, and cyanide antidotes; 51%–70% had adequate folic acid, glucagon, methylene blue, atropine, pralidoxime, leucovorin, pyridoxine, and deferoxamine; and <50% had adequate isoproterenol and digoxin immune Fab. Only 7 (8.9%) hospitals sufficiently stocked all 21 essential antidotes. Factors predicting poor stocking included small hospital size (p < 0.0001), isolation (p = 0.01) and rural location (p < 0.0001).
Although antidote stocking has improved since the implementation of the 2003 guidelines, essential antidotes are absent in many BC hospitals. Future research should focus on determining the reasons for this situation and the effects of corrective interventions.
Poisoning is an uncommon but potentially fatal outcome of toxic alcohol ingestion. The toxic alcohols methanol, ethylene glycol and isopropyl alcohol are commonly found in household and commercial products. Because the toxic effects are caused by the metabolites of methanol and ethylene glycol rather than the agents themselves, there is often a substantial delay between ingestion and onset of clinical toxicity. Anion and osmolar gaps are often used for the diagnosis and exclusion of these sometimes subtle overdoses. The pitfalls of using these tests to rule out alcohol ingestion are reviewed. Ethanol infusion is the traditional therapy for such overdoses. In addition to the pathophysiology and clinical findings in poisoning, recent evidence for the use of fomepizole and adjuvant therapies is reviewed.
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