Severe sepsis makes the heart irritable, probably due to all the evil humors and increased cardiac demand. Between 6-20% of patients with severe sepsis develop atrial fibrillation for the first time; that’s old news. What’s been unclear is what new-onset atrial fibrillation in severe sepsis means: is it an expected, yeah-so-what marker of critical illness, [... read more]
Medications are often stopped during transfers of care. Bell et al analyzed administrative-level data for almost 400,000 hospitalizations in Ontario, Canada, as well as 90-day follow-up outpatient prescription data. They conclude that medications were likely to be discontinued after discharge from the hospital or ICU, “potentially unintentionally.” Five medication classes were analyzed (inhalers, anticoagulant/antiplatelets, acid-suppressors, thyroxine [... read more]
Novel therapies for septic shock over the past 4 decades. Suffredeni AF, Munford RS. JAMA 2011;306:194-199.
The Institute of Medicine has issued stern new guidelines on guideline development. Apparently a good portion of the 2,700 clinical practice guidelines in the Agency of Healthcare Research and Quality’s database are not based on a foundation of good evidence, do not acknowledge when the evidence is shaky, and their authors often have financial conflicts [... read more]
Neither a large 2009 multicenter study nor a 2011 meta-analysis showed any clinical benefit from the use of ICU telemedicine. Lilly et al report the results of a large single-center study in which they progressively implemented ICU telemedicine among 6,290 patients in 7 ICUs (a stepped-wedge design), with non-telemedicine groups acting as controls at each [... read more]
According to compelling new data, you can win the genetic lottery and live healthy all your life, and you’ll still be more likely to die from your first heart attack than the diabetic guy in the next bed who keeps going outside to smoke to relieve his chest pain. But you’ll at least have had more time [... read more]
The 2009 randomized CESAR trial in Lancet concluded that in severe ARDS in the U.K., referral to an ECMO center saved lives. However, patients in the control (non-ECMO) group didn’t consistently get low-tidal ventilation, and many patients randomized to ECMO never received it, creating skepticism of the findings. A case series from Australia/New Zealand (ANZ ECMO) in JAMA showed a 70% survival [... read more]
While we were screening our heavy smokers for lung cancer with chest CTs, the Dutch and Belgians have been screening their own (in the NELSON trial, which will report results in 2015). They double-dipped their imaging data here to ask the question, how good is chest CT at identifying undiagnosed chronic obstructive pulmonary disease? 1,140 [... read more]
In 2006, Medicare (we) spent 25% of our dollars on treatment for people in their last year of life. The debate rages, waged with euphemism in public and painful, conflicting emotions in private: how can we let Grandma go peacefully and with dignity, without feeling too guilty or ending up in front of a Senate subcommittee? [... read more]
West et al report survey and in-service exam data from 16,394 internal medicine residents nationwide, 2008-2009. Almost 15% reported that their lives “suck” or “profoundly suck” (I’m paraphrasing slightly). About half reported emotional exhaustion or feeling burned-out. Almost 30% were in a disconnected, fugue-like state. The really depressed ones did worse on their in-service exams, [... read more]
In a great essay, Coller proposes re-engineering the health care system before Obamacare amplifies our skyrocketing cost problem under fee-for-service. Sounds like a twist on accountable care organizations, but more plausible and on its face politically palatable (after the bloody noses heal). JAMA 2011;306:204-205.
The 18,000 clinical trials published each year aren’t doing much to improve human health, argues Peter Pronovost. Health delivery research can, by improving delivery and impact of already-proven interventions. But doing so will require cutting a slice of the funding pie for social scientists and other untouchables in the “omics”-loving academic caste system. JAMA 2011;306:310-311.
Sharma et al retrospectively observed >200,000 total patient-days for 9 months before and 27 months after implementation of a rapid response team at a single institution (U of Texas Galveston). Code rates and mortality did not change. CHEST 2011;139:1361-1367. Many cohort studies with historical controls over the past decade suggested benefits of RRTs, although others [... read more]
Dyrbye & Shanafelt from Mayo sound a warning that the impending influx of 30 million newly insured patients into doctors’ offices after full implementation of health insurance reform, simultaneous with declining reimbursements, are likely to increase physician stress and burnout. They urge a lot of doctor-friendly policy measures (like a committee to set limits on [... read more]
Four-drug therapy (RIPE) requires high patient commitment and imposes logistical demands on health systems in developing countries. Lienhardt et al report that a fixed-drug combination (FDC) of rifampin, isoniazid, pyrazinamide, and ethambutol was noninferior in producing negative cultures at 18 months compared to taking the drugs separately (both arms ~94% cure rate) in Africa, Asia and Latin [... read more]
Venous thromboembolism, long term management of: Bauer K, JAMA 2011;305:1336-1345.
An excess amount of the chaos and stress endemic to ICUs is due to poor systems engineering (think alarm fatigue); a rational, integrated approach to design & technology selection is needed to make ICUs more effective and safer for patients, argue Mathews & Pronovost. Academic health systems should fill the leadership vacuum, organize stakeholders and [... read more]
Efficient private systems like Geisinger and Kaiser outperform academic institutions on accepted measures of quality . Dhalla & Detsky say that’s because academic docs aren’t trying, because thanks to misguided incentives, their careers suffer if they do. They encourage hospitals and payers to take the lead to reward quality improvement, since universities are unlikely to. [... read more]
The EMShockNet team previously claimed in JAMA that hyperoxia (paO2>300) after cardiac arrest could be deadly (63% in-hospital mortality vs 45% in normoxic patients). After looking at 12,108 database records in Australia/New Zealand, Bellomo et al beg to differ. By applying severity of illness/propensity models, they found no increased risk of death in those with [... read more]
Roquilly et ses amis francais randomized 150 critically ill victims of severe French trauma to hydrocortisone or placebo for 7 days. The treated group had an absolute 16-19% lower risk for hospital-acquired pneumonia, the primary endpoint (36% vs. 51-54% depending on which intention-to-treat analysis you prefer, p=0.007 to 0.01). (n=150). JAMA 2011;305:1201-1209.