The AfJEM blog
Every quarter, the African Journal of Emergency Medicine, in partnership with several other regional emergency medicine journals, publishes abstracts from each respective journal. Abstracts are not necessarily linked to open access papers, but where green access is available it is linked to. Click 'Read More' to read further.
A Prospective Evaluation of Point-of-Care Ultrasonographic Diagnosis of Diverticulitis in the Emergency Department
Cohen A, et al. Ann Emerg Med. 2020;76(6):757-766
We evaluate the sensitivity and specificity of point-of-care ultrasonography, performed by ultrasonographic fellowship-trained emergency physicians and physician assistants, compared with computed tomography (CT) scan in diagnosing acute diverticulitis in the emergency department (ED).
This was a prospective observational study of a convenience sample of patients with suspected diverticulitis who were treated at an academic ED between 2017 and 2020. Sonographers were blinded to clinical data, laboratory results, and CT scan findings. A total of 19 ultrasonographic fellowship-trained emergency physicians and physician assistants performed the ultrasonographic examinations. Point-of-care ultrasonographic diagnosis of acute diverticulitis was defined as the presence of bowel wall thickening, greater than 5 mm, surrounding a diverticulum, enhancement of the surrounding pericolonic fat, and sonographic tenderness to palpation. The primary outcome measures were sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value, and negative predictive value of point-of-care ultrasonography in the diagnosis of diverticulitis compared with CT, which was considered the criterion standard.
Data from 452 patients were analyzed. Median age was 60 years, 54% were women, and 36% had a diagnosis of diverticulitis based on CT scan. Of the 452 patients, there were 13 false-positive (3%) and 10 false-negative (2%) point-of-care ultrasonographic examinations. Overall, compared with CT, point-of-care ultrasonography had a sensitivity of 92% (95% confidence interval 88% to 96%), specificity of 97% (95% confidence interval 94% to 99%), positive predictive value of 94% (95% confidence interval 90% to 97%), and negative predictive value of 96% (93% to 98%) in the diagnosis of diverticulitis.
In a convenience sample of ED patients with suspected diverticulitis, point-of-care ultrasonography performed by ultrasonographic fellowship-trained emergency physicians and physician assistants could be used as an imaging modality for diagnosing acute diverticulitis, with high sensitivity and specificity compared with CT scan.
Reproduced with permission
Clearing the air: A study of cannabis-related presentations to urban Alberta emergency departments following legalization
Yeung MEM, et al. CJEM. 2020 Jun 19;1-8
Non-medical cannabis recently became legal for adults in Canada. Legalization provides opportunity to investigate the public health effects of national cannabis legalization on presentations to emergency departments (EDs). Our study aimed to explore association between cannabis-related ED presentations, poison control and telemedicine calls, and cannabis legalization.
Data were collected from the National Ambulatory Care Reporting System from October 1, 2013, to July 31, 2019, for 14 urban Alberta EDs, from Alberta poison control, and from HealthLink, a public telehealth service covering all of Alberta. Visitation data were obtained to compare pre- and post-legalization periods. An interrupted time-series analysis accounting for existing trends was completed, in addition to the incidence rate ratio (IRR) and relative risk calculation (to evaluate changes in co-diagnoses).
Although only 3 of every 1,000 ED visits within the time period were attributed to cannabis, the number of cannabis-related ED presentations increased post-legalization by 3.1 (range -11.5 to 12.6) visits per ED per month (IRR 1.45, 95% confidence interval [CI]; 1.39, 1.51; absolute level change: 43.5 visits per month, 95% CI; 26.5, 60.4). Cannabis-related calls to poison control also increased (IRR 1.87, 95% CI; 1.55, 2.37; absolute level change: 4.0 calls per month, 95% CI; 0.1, 7.9). Lastly, we observed increases in cannabis-related hyperemesis, unintentional ingestion, and individuals leaving the ED pre-treatment. We also observed a decrease in co-ingestant use.
Overall, Canadian cannabis legalization was associated with small increases in urban Alberta cannabis-related ED visits and calls to a poison control centre.
Reproduced with permission
Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on hospital emergency departments: results of a survey of departments in 2020 — the Spanish ENCOVUR study
Alquézar-Arbé A, et al. Emergencias. 2020;32:320-31
To estimate the impact of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic on the organization of Spanish hospital emergency departments (EDs). To explore differences between Spanish autonomous communities or according to hospital size and disease incidence in the area.
Survey of the heads of 283 EDs in hospitals belonging to or affiliated with Spain’s public health service. Respondents evaluated the pandemic’s impact on organization, resources, and staff absence from work in March and April 2020. Assessments were for 15-day periods. Results were analyzed overall and by autonomous community, hospital size, and local population incidence rates.
A total of 246 (87%) responses were received. The majority of the EDs organized a triage system, first aid, and observation wards; areas specifically for patients suspected of having COVID-19 were newly set apart. The nursing staff was increased in 83% of the EDs (with no subgroup differences), and 59% increased the number of physicians (especially in large hospitals and locations where the COVID-19 incidence was high). Diagnostic tests for the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 were the resource the EDs missed most: 55% reported that tests were scarce often or very often. Other resources reported to be scarce were FPP2 and FPP3 masks (38% of the EDs), waterproof protective gowns (34%), and space (32%). More than 5% of the physicians, nurses, or other emergency staff were on sick leave 20%, 19%, and 16% of the time. These deficiencies were greatest during the last half of March, except for tests, which were most scarce in the first 15 days. Large hospital EDs less often reported that diagnostic tests were unavailable. In areas where the COVID-19 incidence was higher, the EDs reported higher rates of staff on sick leave. Resource scarcity differed markedly by autonomous community and was not always associated with the incidence of COVID-19 in the population.
The COVID-19 pandemic led to organizational changes in EDs. Certain resources became scarce, and marked differences between autonomous communities were detected.
Reproduced with permission
Reducing pain by using venous blood gas instead of arterial blood gas (VEINART): a multicentre randomised controlled trial
Chauvin A, et al. Emerg Med J. 2020;37(12):756-761
Venous sampling for blood gas analysis has been suggested as an alternative to arterial sampling in order to reduce pain. The main objective was to compare pain induced by venous and arterial sampling and to assess whether the type of sampling would affect clinical management or not.
We performed an open-label randomised multicentre prospective study in four French EDs during a 4-week period. Non-hypoxaemic adults, whose medical management required blood gas analysis, were randomly allocated using a computer-generated randomisation list stratified by centres with an allocation ratio of 1:1 using random blocks to one of the two arms: venous or arterial sampling. The primary outcome was the maximal pain during sampling, using the visual analogue scale. Secondary outcomes pertained to ease of sampling as rated by the nurse drawing the blood, and physician satisfaction regarding usefulness of biochemical data.
113 patients were included: 55 in the arterial and 58 in the venous sampling group. The mean maximal pain was 40.5 mm±24.9 mm and 22.6 mm±20.2 mm in the arterial group and the venous group, respectively, accounting for a mean difference of 17.9 mm (95% CI 9.6 to 26.3) (p<0.0001). Ease of blood sampling was greater in the venous group as compared with the arterial group (p=0.02). The usefulness of the results, evaluated by the prescriber, did not significantly differ (p=0.25).
Venous blood gas is less painful for patients than ABG in non-hypoxaemic patients. Venous blood gas should replace ABG in this setting.
Reproduced with permission