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Endemic Infections

Identify-Isolate-Inform: A Tool for Initial Detection and Management of Zika Virus Patients in the Emergency Department

Volume 17, Issue 3, May 2016
Kristi L. Koenig, MD et al.

First isolated in 1947 from a monkey in the Zika forest in Uganda, and from mosquitoes in the same forest the following year, Zika virus has gained international attention due to concerns for infection in pregnant women potentially causing fetal microcephaly. More than one million people have been infected since the appearance of the virus in Brazil in 2015. Approximately 80% of infected patients are asymptomatic. An association with microcephaly and other birth defects as well as Guillain-Barre Syndrome has led to a World Health Organization declaration of Zika virus as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern in February 2016. Zika virus is a vector-borne disease transmitted primarily by the Aedes aegypti mosquito. Male to female sexual transmission has been reported and there is potential for transmission via blood transfusions. After an incubation period of 2–7 days, symptomatic patients develop rapid onset fever, maculopapular rash, arthralgia, and conjunctivitis, often associated with headache and myalgias. Emergency department (ED) personnel must be prepared to address concerns from patients presenting with symptoms consistent with acute Zika virus infection, especially those who are pregnant or planning travel to Zika-endemic regions, as well as those women planning to become pregnant and their partners. The identify-isolate-inform (3I) tool, originally conceived for initial detection and management of Ebola virus disease patients in the ED, and later adjusted for measles and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, can be adapted for real-time use for any emerging infectious disease. This paper reports a modification of the 3I tool for initial detection and management of patients under investigation for Zika virus. Following an assessment of epidemiologic risk, including travel to countries with mosquitoes that transmit Zika virus, patients are further investigated if clinically indicated. If after a rapid evaluation, Zika or other arthropod-borne diseases are the only concern, isolation (contact, droplet, airborne) is unnecessary. Zika is a reportable disease and thus appropriate health authorities must be notified. The modified 3I tool will facilitate rapid analysis and triggering of appropriate actions for patients presenting to the ED at risk for Zika.

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Societal Impact on Emergency Care

Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA) 2002-15: Review of Office of Inspector General Patient Dumping Settlements

Volume 17, Issue 3, May 2016
Nadia Zuabi, BS et al.

Introduction: The Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA) of 1986 was enacted
to prevent hospitals from “dumping” or refusing service to patients for financial reasons. The statute
prohibits discrimination of emergency department (ED) patients for any reason. The Office of the
Inspector General (OIG) of the Department of Health and Human Services enforces the statute.
The objective of this study is to determine the scope, cost, frequency and most common allegations
leading to monetary settlement against hospitals and physicians for patient dumping.
Methods: Review of OIG investigation archives in May 2015, including cases settled from
2002-2015 (https://oig.hhs.gov/fraud/enforcement/cmp/patient_dumping.asp).
Results: There were 192 settlements (14 per year average for 4000+ hospitals in the USA).
Fines against hospitals and physicians totaled $6,357,000 (averages $33,435 and $25,625
respectively); 184/192 (95.8%, $6,152,000) settlements were against hospitals and eight against
physicians ($205,000). Most common settlements were for failing to screen 144/192 (75%) and
stabilize 82/192 (42.7%) for emergency medical conditions (EMC). There were 22 (11.5%) cases
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of inappropriate transfer and 22 (11.5%) more where the hospital failed to transfer. Hospitals failed
to accept an appropriate transfer in 25 (13.0%) cases. Patients were turned away from hospitals
for insurance/financial status in 30 (15.6%) cases. There were 13 (6.8%) violations for patients in
active labor. In 12 (6.3%) cases, the on-call physician refused to see the patient, and in 28 (14.6%)
cases the patient was inappropriately discharged. Although loss of Medicare/Medicaid funding is
an additional possible penalty, there were no disclosures of exclusion of hospitals from federal
funding. There were 6,035 CMS investigations during this time period, with 2,436 found to have
merit as EMTALA violations (40.4%). However, only 192/6,035 (3.2%) actually resulted in OIG
settlements. The proportion of CMS-certified EMTALA violations that resulted in OIG settlements
was 7.9% (192/2,436).
Conclusion: Of 192 hospital and physician settlements with the OIG from 2002-15, most were
for failing to provide screening (75%) and stabilization (42%) to patients with EMCs. The reason
for patient “dumping” was due to insurance or financial status in 15.6% of settlements. The vast
majority of penalties were to hospitals (95% of cases and 97% of payments). Forty percent of
investigations found EMTALA violations, but only 3% of investigations triggered fines.

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Treatment Protocol Assessment

Prospective Validation of Modified NEXUS Cervical Spine Injury Criteria in Low-risk Elderly Fall Patients

Volume 17, Issue 3, May 2016
John Tran, MD et al.

Introduction: The National Emergency X-radiography Utilization Study (NEXUS) criteria are used
extensively in emergency departments to rule out C-spine injuries (CSI) in the general population.
Although the NEXUS validation set included 2,943 elderly patients, multiple case reports and the
Canadian C-Spine Rules question the validity of applying NEXUS to geriatric populations. The
objective of this study was to validate a modified NEXUS criteria in a low-risk elderly fall population
with two changes: a modified definition for distracting injury and the definition of normal mentation.
Methods: This is a prospective, observational cohort study of geriatric fall patients who presented
to a Level I trauma center and were not triaged to the trauma bay. Providers enrolled nonintoxicated
patients at baseline mental status with no lateralizing neurologic deficits. They
recorded midline neck tenderness, signs of trauma, and presence of other distracting injury.
Results: We enrolled 800 patients. One patient fall event was excluded due to duplicate
enrollment, and four were lost to follow up, leaving 795 for analysis. Average age was 83.6 (range
65-101). The numbers in parenthesis after the negative predictive value represent confidence
interval. There were 11 (1.4%) cervical spine injuries. One hundred seventeen patients had midline
tenderness and seven of these had CSI; 366 patients had signs of trauma to the face/neck, and
10 of these patients had CSI. Using signs of trauma to the head/neck as the only distracting injury
and baseline mental status as normal alertness, the modified NEXUS criteria was 100% sensitive
(CI [67.9-100]) with a negative predictive value of 100 (98.7-100).
Conclusion: Our study suggests that a modified NEXUS criteria can be safely applied to lowrisk
elderly falls.

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Practice Variability

Quality Improvement Initiative to Decrease Variability of Emergency Physician Opioid Analgesic Prescribing

Volume 17, Issue 3, May 2016
John Burton, MD, et al.

Introduction: Addressing pain is a crucial aspect of emergency medicine. Prescription opioids
are commonly prescribed for moderate to severe pain in the emergency department (ED);
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unfortunately, prescribing practices are variable. High variability of opioid prescribing decisions
suggests a lack of consensus and an opportunity to improve care. This quality improvement (QI)
initiative aimed to reduce variability in ED opioid analgesic prescribing.
Methods: We evaluated the impact of a three-part QI initiative on ED opioid prescribing by
physicians at seven sites. Stage 1: Retrospective baseline period (nine months). Stage 2:
Physicians were informed that opioid prescribing information would be prospectively collected and
feedback on their prescribing and that of the group would be shared at the end of the stage (three
months). Stage 3: After physicians received their individual opioid prescribing data with blinded
comparison to the group means (from Stage 2) they were informed that individual prescribing
data would be unblinded and shared with the group after three months. The primary outcome was
variability of the standard error of the mean and standard deviation of the opioid prescribing rate
(defined as number of patients discharged with an opioid divided by total number of discharges
for each provider). Secondary observations included mean quantity of pills per opioid prescription,
and overall frequency of opioid prescribing.
Results: The study group included 47 physicians with 149,884 ED patient encounters. The
variability in prescribing decreased through each stage of the initiative as represented by the
distributions for the opioid prescribing rate: Stage 1 mean 20%; Stage 2 mean 13% (46%
reduction, p<0.01), and Stage 3 mean 8% (60% reduction, p<0.01). The mean quantity of pills
prescribed per prescription was 16 pills in Stage 1, 14 pills in Stage 2 (18% reduction, p<0.01),
and 13 pills in Stage 3 (18% reduction, p<0.01). The group mean prescribing rate also decreased
through each stage: 20% in Stage 1, 13% in Stage 2 (46% reduction, p<0.01), and 8% in Stage
3 (60% reduction, p<0.01).
Conclusion: ED physician opioid prescribing variability can be decreased through the systematic
application of sharing of peer prescribing rates and prescriber specific normative feedback.

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Critical Care

Anticoagulation Reversal and Treatment Strategies in Major Bleeding: Update 2016

Volume 17, Issue 3, May 2016
Steve Christos, DO, MS et al.

Anticoagulation is the mainstay of medical treatment, prevention and reduction of recurrent venous thromboembolism, stroke prevention in patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation, and it reduces the incidence of recurrent ischemic events and death in patients with acute coronary syndrome. Options for anticoagulation have been steadily increasing. Physicians need to be aware of the clinical profile of anticoagulation agents, reversal agents and treatment strategies in the face of major bleeding.

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Critical Care

Academic Emergency Medicine Physicians’ Knowledge of Mechanical Ventilation

Volume 13, Issue 3, May 2016
Susan R. Wilcox, MD et al.

Introduction: Although emergency physicians frequently intubate patients, management of
mechanical ventilation has not been emphasized in emergency medicine (EM) education or clinical
practice. The objective of this study was to quantify EM attendings’ education, experience, and
knowledge regarding mechanical ventilation in the emergency department.
Methods: We developed a survey of academic EM attendings’ educational experiences with
ventilators and a knowledge assessment tool with nine clinical questions. EM attendings at key
teaching hospitals for seven EM residency training programs in the northeastern United States
were invited to participate in this survey study. We performed correlation and regression analyses
to evaluate the relationship between attendings’ scores on the assessment instrument and their
training, education, and comfort with ventilation.
Results: Of 394 EM attendings surveyed, 211 responded (53.6%). Of respondents, 74.5%
reported receiving three or fewer hours of ventilation-related education from EM sources over the
past year and 98 (46%) reported receiving between 0-1 hour of education. The overall correct
response rate for the assessment tool was 73.4%, with a standard deviation of 19.9. The factors
associated with a higher score were completion of an EM residency, prior emphasis on mechanical
ventilation during one’s own residency, working in a setting where an emergency physician bears
primary responsibility for ventilator management, and level of comfort with managing ventilated
patients. Physicians’ comfort was associated with the frequency of ventilator changes and EM
management of ventilation, as well as hours of education.
Conclusion: EM attendings report caring for mechanically ventilated patients frequently, but most
receive fewer than three educational hours a year on mechanical ventilation, and nearly half
receive 0-1 hour. Physicians’ performance on an assessment tool for mechanical ventilation is
most strongly correlated with their self-reported comfort with mechanical ventilation.

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Diagnostic Acumen

Anti-N-Methyl-D-Aspartate Receptor Encephalitis, an Underappreciated Disease in the Emergency Department

Volume 17, Issue 3, May 2016
Daniel R. Lasoff, MD et al.

Anti-N-Methyl-D-Aspartate Receptor (NMDAR) Encephalitis is a novel disease discovered within
the past 10 years. Antibodies directed at the NMDAR cause the patient to develop a characteristic
syndrome of neuropsychiatric symptoms. Patients go on to develop autonomic dysregulation and
often have prolonged hospitalizations and intensive care unit stays. There is little literature in
the emergency medicine community regarding this disease process, so we report on a case we
encountered in our emergency department to help raise awareness of this disease process.

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Diagnostic Acumen

ACE-I Angioedema: Accurate Clinical Diagnosis May Prevent Epinephrine-Induced Harm

Volume 17, Issue 3, May 2016
R. Mason Curtis, MD et al.

Introduction: Upper airway angioedema is a life-threatening emergency department (ED)
presentation with increasing incidence. Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor induced
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angioedema (AAE) is a non-mast cell mediated etiology of angioedema. Accurate diagnosis by
clinical examination can optimize patient management and reduce morbidity from inappropriate
treatment with epinephrine. The aim of this study is to describe the incidence of angioedema
subtypes and the management of AAE. We evaluate the appropriateness of treatments and
highlight preventable iatrogenic morbidity.
Methods: We conducted a retrospective chart review of consecutive angioedema patients
presenting to two tertiary care EDs between July 2007 and March 2012.
Results: Of 1,702 medical records screened, 527 were included. The cause of angioedema
was identified in 48.8% (n=257) of cases. The most common identifiable etiology was AAE
(33.1%, n=85), with a 60.0% male predominance. The most common AAE management strategies
included diphenhydramine (63.5%, n=54), corticosteroids (50.6%, n=43) and ranitidine (31.8%,
n=27). Epinephrine was administered in 21.2% (n=18) of AAE patients, five of whom received
repeated doses. Four AAE patients required admission (4.7%) and one required endotracheal
intubation. Epinephrine induced morbidity in two patients, causing myocardial ischemia or
dysrhythmia shortly after administration.
Conclusion: AAE is the most common identifiable etiology of angioedema and can be accurately
diagnosed by physical examination. It is easily confused with anaphylaxis and mismanaged with
antihistamines, corticosteroids and epinephrine. There is little physiologic rationale for epinephrine
use in AAE and much risk. Improved clinical differentiation of mast cell and non-mast cell mediated
angioedema can optimize patient management.

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Case Series of Synthetic Cannabinoid Intoxication from One Toxicology Center

Volume 17, Issue 3, May 2016
Kenneth D. Katz, MD, et al.

Synthetic cannabinoid use has risen at alarming rates. This case series describes 11 patients exposed to the synthetic cannabinoid, MAB-CHMINACA who presented to an emergency department with life-threatening toxicity including obtundation, severe agitation, seizures and death. All patients required sedatives for agitation, nine required endotracheal intubation, three experienced seizures, and one developed hyperthermia. One developed anoxic brain injury, rhabdomyolysis and died. A significant number were pediatric patients. The mainstay of treatment was aggressive sedation and respiratory support. Synthetic cannabinoids pose a major public health risk. Emergency physicians must be aware of their clinical presentation, diagnosis and treatment.

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Gender Differences in Emergency Department Visits and Detox Referrals for Illicit and Nonmedical Use of Opioids

Volume 17, Issue 3, May 2016
Hyeon-Ju Ryoo, BA et al.

Introduction: Visits to the emergency department (ED) for use of illicit drugs and opioids have increased in the past decade. In the ED, little is known about how gender may play a role in drug-related visits and referrals to treatment. This study performs gender-based comparison analyses of drug-related ED visits nationwide.
Methods: We performed a cross-sectional analysis with data collected from 2004 to 2011 by the Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN). All data were coded to capture major drug categories and opioids. We used logistic regression models to find associations between gender and odds of referral to treatment programs. A second set of models were controlled for patient “seeking detox,” or patient explicitly requesting for detox referral.
Results: Of the 27.9 million ED visits related to drug use in the DAWN database, visits by men were 2.69 times more likely to involve illicit drugs than visits by women (95% CI [2.56, 2.80]). Men were more likely than women to be referred to detox programs for any illicit drugs (OR 1.12, 95% CI [1.02–1.22]), for each of the major illicit drugs (e.g., cocaine: OR 1.27, 95% CI [1.15–1.40]), and for prescription opioids (OR 1.30, 95% CI [1.17–1.43]). This significant association prevailed after controlling for “seeking detox.”
Conclusion: Women are less likely to receive referrals to detox programs than men when presenting to the ED regardless of whether they are “seeking detox.” Future research may help determine the cause for this gender-based difference and its significance for healthcare costs and health outcomes.

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Variations in Substance Use Prevalence Estimates and Need for Interventions among Adult Emergency Department Patients Based on Different Screening Strategies Using the ASSIST

Volume 17, Issue 3, May 2016
Roland C. Merchant, MD, MPH, ScD

Introduction: Among adult emergency department (ED) patients, we sought to examine how estimates of substance use prevalence and the need for interventions can differ, based on the type of screening and assessment strategies employed.
Methods: We estimated the prevalence of substance use and the need for interventions using the Alcohol, Smoking and Substance Involvement Screening Test (ASSIST) in a secondary analysis of data from two cross-sectional studies using random samples of English- or Spanish-speaking 18–64-year-old ED patients. In addition, the test performance characteristics of three simplified screening strategies consisting of selected questions from the ASSIST (lifetime use, past three-month use, and past three-month frequency of use) to identify patients in need of a possible intervention were compared against using the full ASSIST.
Results: Of 6,432 adult ED patients, the median age was 37 years-old, 56.6% were female, and 61.6% were white. Estimated substance use prevalence among this population differed by how it was measured (lifetime use, past three-month use, past three-month frequency of use, or need for interventions). As compared to using the full ASSIST, the predictive value and accuracy to identify patients in need of any intervention was best for a simplified strategy asking about past three-month substance use. A strategy asking about daily/near-daily use was better in identifying patients needing intensive interventions. However, some patients needing interventions were missed when using these simplified strategies.
Conclusion: Substance use prevalence estimates and identification of ED patients needing interventions differ by screening strategies used. EDs should carefully select strategies to identify patients in need of substance use interventions.

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Undertriage of Trauma-Related Deaths in U.S. Emergency Departments

Volume 17, Issue 3, May 2016
Jenelle Holst, MD. et al.

Introduction: Accurate field triage of critically injured patients to trauma centers is vital for improving survival. We sought to estimate the national degree of undertriage of trauma patients who die in emergency departments (EDs) by evaluating the frequency and characteristics associated with triage to non-trauma centers.
Methods: This was a retrospective cross-sectional analysis of adult ED trauma deaths in the 2010 National Emergency Department Sample (NEDS). The primary outcome was appropriate triage to a trauma center (Level I, II or III) or undertriage to a non-trauma center. We subsequently focused on urban areas given improved access to trauma centers. We evaluated the associations of patient demographics, hospital region and mechanism of injury with triage to a trauma versus non-trauma center using multivariable logistic regression.
Results: We analyzed 3,971 included visits, representing 18,464 adult ED trauma-related deaths nationally. Of all trauma deaths, nearly half (44.5%, 95% CI [43.0–46.0]) of patients were triaged to non-trauma centers. In a subgroup analysis, over a third of urban ED visits (35.6%, 95% CI [34.1–37.1]) and most rural ED visits (86.4%, 95% CI [81.5–90.1]) were triaged to non-trauma centers. In urban EDs, female patients were less likely to be triaged to trauma centers versus non-trauma centers (adjusted odds ratio [OR] 0.83, 95% CI [0.70–0.99]). Highest median household income zip codes (≥$67,000) were less likely to be triaged to trauma centers than lowest median income ($1–40,999) (OR 0.54, 95% CI [0.43–0.69]). Compared to motor vehicle trauma, firearm trauma had similar odds of being triaged to a trauma center (OR 0.90, 95% CI [0.71–1.14]); however, falls were less likely to be triaged to a trauma center (OR 0.50, 95 %CI [0.38–0.66]).
Conclusion: We found that nearly half of all trauma patients nationally and one-third of urban trauma patients, who died in the ED, were triaged to non-trauma centers, and thus undertriaged. Sex and other demographic disparities associated with this triage decision represent targeted opportunities to improve our trauma systems and reduce undertriage.

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Vital Signs Predict Rapid-Response Team Activation Within Twelve Hours of Emergency Department Admission

Volume 17, Issue 3, May 2016
James Walston, MD. et al.

Introduction: Rapid-response teams (RRTs) are interdisciplinary groups created to rapidly assess and treat patients with unexpected clinical deterioration marked by decline in vital signs. Traditionally emergency department (ED) disposition is partially based on the patients’ vital signs (VS) at the time of hospital admission. We aimed to identify which patients will have RRT activation within 12 hours of admission based on their ED VS, and if their outcomes differed.
Methods: We conducted a case-control study of patients presenting from January 2009 to December 2012 to a tertiary ED who subsequently had RRT activations within 12 hours of admission (early RRT activations). The medical records of patients 18 years and older admitted to a non-intensive care unit (ICU) setting were reviewed to obtain VS at the time of ED arrival and departure, age, gender and diagnoses. Controls were matched 1:1 on age, gender, and diagnosis. We evaluated VS using cut points (lowest 10%, middle 80% and highest 10%) based on the distribution of VS for all patients. Our study adheres to the STROBE (Strengthening the Reporting of Observational Studies in Epidemiology) guidelines for reporting observational studies.
Results: A total of 948 patients were included (474 cases and 474 controls). Patients who had RRT activations were more likely to be tachycardic (odds ratio [OR] 2.02, 95% CI [1.25–3.27]), tachypneic (OR 2.92, 95% CI [1.73–4.92]), and had lower oxygen saturations (OR 2.25, 95% CI [1.42–3.56]) upon arrival to the ED. Patients who had RRT activations were more likely to be tachycardic at the time of disposition from the ED (OR 2.76, 95% CI [1.65–4.60]), more likely to have extremes of systolic blood pressure (BP) (OR 1.72, 95% CI [1.08–2.72] for low BP and OR 1.82, 95% CI [1.19–2.80] for high BP), higher respiratory rate (OR 4.15, 95% CI [2.44–7.07]) and lower oxygen saturation (OR 2.29, 95% CI [1.43–3.67]). Early RRT activation was associated with increased healthcare utilization and worse outcomes including increased rates of ICU admission within 72 hours (OR 38.49, 95%CI [19.03–77.87]), invasive interventions (OR 5.49, 95%CI [3.82–7.89]), mortality at 72 hours (OR 4.24, 95%CI [1.60–11.24]), and mortality at one month (OR 4.02, 95%CI [2.44–6.62]).
Conclusion: After matching for age, gender and ED diagnosis, we found that patients with an abnormal heart rate, respiratory rate or oxygen saturation at the time of ED arrival or departure are more likely to trigger RRT activation within 12 hours of admission. Early RRT activation was associated with higher mortality at 72 hours and one month, increased rates of invasive intervention and ICU admission. Determining risk factors of early RRT activation is of clinical, operational, and financial importance, as improved medical decision-making regarding disposition would maximize allocation of resources while potentially limiting morbidity and mortality.

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Trauma Triage and Trauma System Performance

Volume 17, Issue 3, May 2016
Gary Johnson, MD

Trauma systems seek to provide complex medical care at the correct time and the correct place. During the past four decades numerous articles have been published that validate trauma systems from many points of view. Achievements of trauma systems include improvement in mortality and morbidity, efficiencies of care, and economic outcomes. Prehospital policy execution is intrinsic to trauma system performance. Trauma system criteria are relatively standardized. However, flexibility in emergency medical service (EMS) decision-making is commonly allowed. These decisions have major impacts on resource allocation, trauma center utilization, and patient outcome.

In this edition, Holst, et al1 reviewed adult emergency department (ED) trauma deaths as reported in the 2010 National Emergency Department Sample. They recorded the association of these deaths to trauma or non-trauma center designation, as well as geographic and patient demographics including rural vs urban site, gender, and patient income data. They found that one half of all trauma ED deaths nationally and one third of ED urban trauma patients died in non-trauma centers. Both elderly trauma deaths and deaths due to falls more frequently occurred in non-trauma centers. Like most studies describing trauma system performance, this is a retrospective review taken from a large database. Therefore, causation of outcome cannot be directly attributed to undertriage. However, the magnitude of the non-trauma center death rate merits further investigation.

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Inadequate Sensitivity of Laboratory Risk Indicator to Rule Out Necrotizing Fasciitis in the Emergency Department

Volume 17, Issue 3, May 2016
Elizabeth Burner, MD et al.

Necrotizing fasciitis (NF) is a life-threatening infection with high mortality. Because NF can be misdiagnosed as a less lethal mimic, such as cellulitis and abscess, efforts have been made to identify clinical features that could help clinicians accurately diagnose NF and avoid delays to surgical debridement.1 Prior retrospective studies have shown certain laboratory values, particularly an extremely elevated leukocyte count and a low sodium concentration, are associated with NF.2 These abnormal values might help clinicians distinguish NF from less severe soft-tissue infections. The Laboratory Risk Indicator for Necrotizing Fasciitis (LRINEC) score was developed in a large cohort of admitted patients to identify patients at higher risk for NF.3 Patients are assigned a LRINEC score based on serum sodium, glucose, creatinine, c-reactive protein (CRP), leukocyte count and hemoglobin. Scores range from 0 to 13; a score 6 or greater was associated with a high risk of NF, and a score of 8 or greater with a very high risk.

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Contact Information

WestJEM/ Department of Emergency Medicine
UC Irvine Health

333 The City Blvd. West, Rt 128-01
Suite 640
Orange, CA 92868, USA
Phone: 1-714-456-6389
Email: westjem@gmail.com

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WestJEM
ISSN: 1936-900X
e-ISSN: 1936-9018

CPC-EM
ISSN: 2474-252X

Our Philosophy

Emergency Medicine is a specialty which closely reflects societal challenges and consequences of public policy decisions. The emergency department specifically deals with social injustice, health and economic disparities, violence, substance abuse, and disaster preparedness and response. This journal focuses on how emergency care affects the health of the community and population, and conversely, how these societal challenges affect the composition of the patient population who seek care in the emergency department. The development of better systems to provide emergency care, including technology solutions, is critical to enhancing population health.