Category Archives: Original Research

Improving Clinical Performance of an Interprofessional Emergency Medical Team through a One-day Crisis Resource Management Training

DOI: 10.2478/jccm-2018-0018

Introduction: Errors are frequent in health care and Emergency Departments are one of the riskiest areas due to frequent changes of team composition, complexity and variety of the cases and difficulties encountered in managing multiple patients. As the majority of clinical errors are the results of human factors and not technical in nature or due to the lack of knowledge, a training focused on these factors appears to be necessary. Crisis resource management (CRM), a tool that was developed initially by the aviation industry and then adopted by different medical specialties as anesthesia and emergency medicine, has been associated with decreased error rates.
The aim of the study: To assess whether a single day CRM training, combining didactic and simulation sessions, improves the clinical performance of an interprofessional emergency medical team.
Material and Methods: Seventy health professionals with different qualifications, working in an emergency department, were enrolled in the study. Twenty individual interprofessional teams were created. Each team was assessed before and after the training, through two in situ simulated exercises. The exercises were videotaped and were evaluated by two assessors who were blinded as to whether it was the initial or the final exercise. Objective measurement of clinical team performance was performed using a checklist that was designed for each scenario and included essential assessment items for the diagnosis and treatment of a critical patient, with the focus on key actions and decisions. The intervention consisted of a one-day training, combining didactic and simulation sessions, followed by instructor facilitated debriefing. All participants went through this training after the initial assessment exercises.
Results: An improvement was seen in most of the measured clinical parameters.
Conclusion: Our study supports the use of combined CRM training for improving the clinical performance of an interprofessional emergency team. Empirically this may improve the patient outcome.

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Effects of Fibrinogen Levels and Platelet Counts on Viscoelastic Testing in Cirrhotic Patients

DOI: 10.2478/jccm-2018-0012

Introduction. Cirrhotic patients have been considered for decades to have a pro-haemorrhagic pattern and were treated as such based on the results from standard coagulation tests. The aim of our study was to determine the effects of platelet count and fibrinogen levels on rotational thromboelastometry (ROTEM) parameters.
Methods. We prospectively included 176 patients with End-Stage Liver Disease (ESLD) admitted to our Intensive Care Unit prior to liver transplantation. Collected data consisted of severity scores, liver, renal and standard coagulation tests, fibrinogen levels, platelet counts and ROTEM parameters. Four ROTEM assays were performed (ExTEM, InTEM, ApTEM and FibTEM) and the following parameters included: CT – clotting time, CFT – clot formation time, MCF – maximum clot firmness, ML – maximum lysis, alpha angle, TPI – thrombin potential index, MaxV – maximum velocity of clot formation (MaxV), MaxVt – time to MaxV, MCE- maximum clot elasticity and AUC – area under the curve.
Results. Statistical analysis demonstrated a linear correlation between platelet counts and ExTEM TPI (R2 linear =0.494), ExTEM MaxV (R2 linear =0.253), ExTEM MCE (R2 linear = 0.351) and ExTEM MCF (R2 cubic = 0.498). Fibrinogen levels correlated linearly with ExTEM MCF (R2 linear = 0.426), ExTEM TPI (R2 linear = 0.544), ExTEM MaxV (R2 linear = 0.332), ExTEM MCE (R2 linear = 0.395) and non-linearly with ExTEM CFT (R2 cubic = 0.475).
Conclusion. Fibrinogen levels and platelet counts had an important effect on both standard and derived ROTEM parameters. Further analysis is required in order to determine clinically oriented cut-off values below which severe coagulopathy would develop.

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Brain Death in Children: Incidence, Donation Rates, and the Occurrence of Central Diabetes Insipidus

DOI: 10.2478/jccm-2018-0005

Introduction: Brain death is currently defined as the loss of full brain function including the brainstem. The diagnosis and its subsequent management in the pediatric population are still controversial. The aim of this study was to define the demographic characteristics, clinical features and outcomes of patients with brain death and determine the incidence of brain death, donation rates and occurrence of central diabetes insipidus accompanying brain death in children.
Methods: This retrospective study was conducted at a twelve-bed tertiary-care combined medical and surgical pediatric intensive care unit of the Ondokuz Mayıs University Medical School, Samsun, Turkey. In 37 of 341 deaths (10.8%), a diagnosis of brain death was identified. The primary insult causing brain death was post-cardiorespiratory arrest in 8 (21.6%), head trauma in 8 (21.6%), and drowning in 4 (18.9%). In all patients, transcranial Doppler ultrasound was utilised as an ancillary test and test was repeated until it was consistent with brain death.
Results: In 33 (89%) patients, central diabetes insipidus was determined at or near the time brain death was confirmed. The four patients not diagnosed with CDI had acute renal failure, and renal replacement treatment was carried out. The consent rate for organ donation was 18.9%, and 16.7% of potential donors proceeded to actual donation
Conclusion: In the current study the consent rate for organ donation is relatively low compared to the rest of the world. The prevalence of central diabetes insipidus in this pedaitric brain death population is higher than reports in the literature, and acute renal failure accounted for the lack of central diabetes insipidus in four patients with brain death. Further studies are needed to explain normouria in brain-dead patients.

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Neurological Critical Care Services’ Influence Following Large Hemispheric Infarction and Their Impact on Resource Utilization

DOI: 10.2478/jccm-2018-0001

Introduction: Acute ischemic stroke (AIS) is the fourth leading cause of death in the US. Numerous studies have demonstrated the use of comprehensive stroke units and neurological intensive care units (NICU) in improving outcomes after stroke. We hypothesized that an expanded neurocritical care (NCC) service would decrease resource utilization in patients with LHI.
Methods: Retrospective data from consecutive admissions of large hemispheric infarction (LHI) patients requiring mechanical ventilation were acquired from the hospital medical records. Between 2011-2013, there were 187 consecutive patients admitted to the Jefferson Hospital for Neuroscience (Philadelphia, USA) with AIS and acute respiratory failure. Our intention was to determine the number of tracheostomies done over time. The primary outcome measure was the number of tracheostomies over time. Secondary outcomes were, ventilator-free days (Vfd), total hospital charges, intensive care unit length of stay (ICU-LOS), and total hospital length of stay (hospital-LOS), including ICU LOS. Hospital charges were log-transformed to meet assumptions of normality and homoscedasticity of residual variance terms. Generalized Linear Models were used and ORs and 95% CIs calculated. The significance level was set at α = 0.05.
Results: Of the 73 patients included in this analysis, 33% required a tracheostomy. There was a decrease in the number of tracheostomies undertaken since 2011. (OR 0.8; 95% CI 0.6-0.9: p=0.02). Lower Vfd were seen in tracheostomized patients (OR 0.11; 95%CI 0.1-0.26: p<0.0001). The log-hospital charges decreased over time but not significantly (OR 0.9; 95%CI 0.78-1.07: p=0.2) and (OR 0.99; 95%CI 0.85-1.16: p=0.8) from 2012 to 2013 respectively.
The ICU-LOS at 23 days vs 10 days (p=0.01) and hospital-LOS at 33 days vs 11 days (p=0.008) were higher in tracheostomized patients.
Conclusion: The data suggest that in LHI-patients requiring mechanical ventilation, a dedicated NCC service reduces the overall need for tracheostomy, increases Vfd, and decreases ICU and hospital-LOS.

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Clinical Features and Outcomes of Fusobacterium Species Infections in a Ten-Year Follow-up

DOI: 10.1515/jccm-2017-0029

Objective. Although uncommon, Fusobacterium infections have a wide clinical spectrum, ranging from local pharyngeal infections to septic shock. Our aim was to characterize and analyze the clinical features and outcomes in patients with Fusobacterium infections, and determine which variables were able to predict a poor outcome.
Methods. We conducted a retrospective, hospital-based study using the computerized records of a second-level Spanish general hospital, serving a population of 155,000 inhabitants. The cohort was enrolled among patients cared for at the hospital between 2007 and 2016. Demographic, clinical data, microbiological characterization and outcomes at discharge, were analyzed.
Results. We collected data for all 26 patients over a 10-year period (annual incidence of 1.78 per 100,000), with an incidence of bacteremia of 0.53 cases per 100,000 population per year. F. nucleatum and F. necrophorum were the most frequent isolations (53.8% and 38.5%, respectively). F. necrophorum was found to be associated with a younger population. Although we found no deaths attributable to Fusobacterium, 15 patients (57%) were found to have severe infections due to this pathogen, and 7 patients (26.9%) were admitted to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). The only identifiable risk factor for a severe infection (sepsis, septic shock or ICU admission) was the presence of bacteremia.
Conclusions. Fusobacterium infections are uncommon. F. necrophorum tends to cause infection in younger individuals, while F. nucleatum has a preference for older patients. The clinical spectrum is wide, ranging from local, non-severe infections, such as sinusitis or pharyngitis, to abscess formation and life-threatening infections.

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Anaesthesia and Intensive Care Residents’ Perception of Simulation Training in Four Romanian Centres

DOI: 10.1515/jccm-2017-0005

Introduction: Simulation training offers an opportunity to educate anaesthesia and intensive care (AIC) residents safely. At present, it is not yet a mandatory part of residency curriculum.
The aim of the study was to evaluate the residents’ perception of the inclusion of simulation-based training in the Romanian AIC residency program.
Material and methods: Romanian AICs in anaesthesia and intensive care from four training centres completed a twenty-question survey regarding their views on simulation during their residency training. Residents were divided into junior, in the first three years, or senior groups, in the last two years of residency training. The questionnaire included Likert-scale multiple-choice, open-ended, and “yes” or “no” questions regarding simulator learning, the frequency of simulation sessions, and the value of the simulation sessions in improving practice, skills or teamwork. The open-ended questions, asked which were the respondents’ preferred topics to be included in simulation sessions.
Results: Fifty-six percent of residents completed and returned the questionnaire. Ninety-eight percent of them considered simulation-learning useful once a month or every three months especially in the first two years of training. All residents thought simulation sessions would improve their skills, communication abilities, and teamwork. Senior residents paid more attention to clinical scenarios (p=0.007), haemodynamic monitoring (p=0.017) and mechanical ventilation (p=0.004) as compared to juniors. All residents considered difficult airway management, and cardiac life support to be very important issues to be included in simulation sessions.
Conclusion: The survey demonstrated that simulation-based training should play a greater role and eventually became compulsory in training program in AIC academic centres.

Supplementary material

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Neutrophil Gelatinase-Associated Lipocalin as a Marker for Renal Dysfunction Detection in Critically Ill Patients with Increased Intraabdominal Pressure

DOI: 10.1515/jccm-2017-0006

Introduction: Elevated intraabdominal pressure (IAP) it is known to have an impact on renal function trough the pressure transmitted from the abdominal cavity to the vasculature responsible for the renal blood flow. Intraabdominal pressure is found to be frequent in intensive care patients and also to be a predictor of mortality. Intra- abdominal high pressure is an entity that can have serious impact on intensive care admitted patients, studies concluding that if this condition progresses to abdominal compartment syndrome mortality is as high as 80%.
Aim: The aim of this study was to observe if a link between increased intraabdominal pressure and modification in renal function exists (NGAL, creatinine clearance).
Material and Method: The study enrolled 30 critically ill patients admitted in the Intensive Care Unit of SCJU Tîrgu Mures between November 2015 and August 2016. The study enrolled adult, hemodynamically stable patients admitted in intensive critical care – defined by a normal blood pressure maintained without any vasopressor or inotropic support, invasive monitoring using PICCO device and abdominal pressure monitoring.
Results: The patients were divided into two groups based on the intraabdominal pressure values: normal intraabdominal pressure group= 52 values and increased intraabdominal group= 35 values. We compared the groups in the light of NGAL values, 24 hours diuresis, GFR and creatinine clearance. The groups are significantly different when compared in the light of NGAL values and GFR values. We obtained a statistically significant correlation between NGAL value and 24 hour diuresis. No other significant correlations were encountered between the studied items.
Conclusions: NGAL values are increased in patients with high intraabdominal pressure which may suggest its utility as a cut off marker for patients with increased intraabdominal pressure. There is a significant decreased GFR in patient with elevated intraabdominal pressure, observation which can help in early detection of renal injury in patients due to high intraabdominal pressure. No correlation was found between creatinine clearance and increased intraabdominal pressure.

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Pulse Oximetry During the First 24 Hours as a Screening Tool For Congenital Heart Defects

DOI: 10.1515/jccm-2017-0004

Introduction: Although screening for congenital heart defects (CHD) relies mainly on antenatal ultrasonography and clinical examination after birth, life-threatening cardiac malformations are often not diagnosed before the patient is discharged.
Aim: To assess the use of routine pulse oximetry in the delivery room and at 24 hours postpartum, and to study its feasibility as a screening test for CHD.
Material and Methods: In this prospective study, all infants born in “Cuza Voda” Maternity Hospital, Iasi, Romania, were enrolled over a thirteen-month period. Preductal oximetry was assessed during the first hour, and postductal oximetry was evaluated at twenty-four hours postpartum. Data were then analyzed to establish the sensitivity and specificity of pulse oximetry, as a screening test for CHD.
Results: 5406 infants were included in the study, with a mean gestational age of 38.2 weeks and a mean birth weight of 3175 grams. During the first minute, blood oxygen saturation varied between 40% and 90% and at 24 hours of life, it ranged between 90% and 100%. Following oximetry assessment, 14 infants with critical CHD were identified. Blood oxygen saturation values in infants with CHD were lower throughout the entire period of evaluation. Pulse oximetry had good sensitivity and specificity at 1 hour (Se=87.5%, Sp=95.5%) and 24 hours (Se=92.5%, Sp=97.4%) for the diagnosis of CHD. Blood oxygen saturation values at one minute, 1 hour and 24 hours are strong discriminative parameters for the early diagnosis of CHD.
Conclusion: Routine pulse oximetry during the first 24 hours postpartum represents an early indicator of CHD to facilitate timely intervention. Pulse oximetry provides excellent sensitivity and specificity and has tremendous potential as a standard screening test for CHD during the first 24 hours of life.

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Congenital Heart Disease Requiring Maintenance of Ductus Arteriosus in Critically Ill Newborns Admitted at a Tertiary Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

DOI: 10.1515/jccm-2016-0031

Introduction: Congenital heart diseases (CHD) have been reported to be responsible for 30 to 50% of infant mortality caused by congenital disabilities. In critical cases, survival of newborns with CHD depends on the patency of the ductus arteriosus (PDA), for maintaining the systemic or pulmonary circulation. The aim of the study was to assess the efficacy and side effects of PGE (prostaglandin E) administration in newborns with critical congenital heart disease requiring maintenance of the ductus arteriosus.
Material and method: All clinical and paraclinical data of 66 infants admitted to one referral tertiary level academic center and treated with Alprostadil were analyzed. Patients were divided into three groups: Group 1: PDA dependent pulmonary circulation (n=11) Group 2: PDA dependent systemic circulation (n=31) Group 3: PDA depending mixed circulation (n=24)
Results: The mean age of starting PGE1 treatment was 2.06 days, 1.91 (+/-1.44) days for PDA depending pulmonary flow, 2.39 (+/-1.62) days for PDA depending systemic flow and 1.71 (+/1.12) for PDA depending mixing circulation. PEG1 initiation was commenced 48 hours after admission for 72%, between 48-72 hours for 6%, and after 72 to 120 hours for 21% of newborns detected with PDA dependent circulation. Before PEG1 initiation the mean initial SpO2 was 77.89 (+/- 9.2)% and mean initial oxygen pressure (PaO2) was 26.96(+/-6.45) mmHg. At the point when stable wide open PDA was achieved their mean SpO2increased to 89.73 (+/-8.4)%, and PaO2 rose to 49 (+/-7.2) mmHg. During PGE1 treatment, eleven infants (16.7%) had apnea attacks, five children (7.5%) had convulsions, 33 (50%) had fever, 47 (71.2%) had leukocytosis, 52 (78.8%) had edema, 25.8% had gastrointestinal intolerance, 45.5% had hypokalemia, and 63.6% had irritability.
Conclusions: For those infants with severe cyanosis or shock caused by PDA dependent heart lesions, the initiation and maintenance of PGE1 infusion is imperative. The side effects of this beneficial therapy were transient and treatable.

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Persistent Ductus Arteriosus in Critically Ill Preterm Infants

DOI: 10.1515/jccm-2016-0026

Introduction: Persistent ductus arteriosus (PDA) is found with increased incidence in preterm infants, significantly affecting neonatal morbidity and mortality rates.
Aim: To evaluate the association between the presence of PDA and the severity of clinical condition at birth in critically ill preterm infants, with gestational ages (GA) ≤ 32 weeks and severe respiratory distress.
Methods: All preterm infants with GA ≤ 32 weeks admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) of the Clinical County Emergency Hospital, Sibiu between 1 January 2010 and 31 December 2015 were included in the study. These were categorized as Group 1 [Preterm infants with PDA; n=154] and Group 2 [Preterm infants without PDA; n=186]. Epidemiological and clinical data were collected in the National Registry for Respiratory Distress Syndrome for all children, and data related to prenatal period, clinical characteristics at birth i.e GA, weight, gender, Apgar scores, and clinical features such as resuscitation at birth, surfactant administration, need and duration of respiratory support, neonatal sepsis, complications associated with prematurity, and death, were analyzed.
Results: Group 1 infants had significantly lower GA and birth weights, were more often out born (p=0.049, HR 1.69), and had significantly lower Apgar scores at 1 and 10 minutes (p=0.022, p=0.000). They presented a significantly higher need for surfactant administration (42.9% vs 24.7%, p<0.0001) and respiratory support (96.8% vs 90.3%, HR 3.19, p=0.019 for need of CPAP and 22.1% vs 10.8%, HR 2.35, p=0.004 for mechanical ventilation). Duration of respiratory support was also significantly higher in the Group 1 (7.6%±7.5 vs. 5.1±3.8 days, p<0.0001 for CPAP and 20.1±22.5 vs. 12.0±15.7 days, p<0.0001 for mechanical ventilation).
Conclusion: In very preterm infants, PDA may be associated with a critical clinical condition leading to serious complications. The presence of PDA after the seventh day of life was associated with an increased need for respiratory support, both CPAP and mechanical ventilation, increased severity of the respiratory distress syndrome, requiring a longer duration of respiratory support, and increased the hospitalization length. In very preterm infants, PDA presence was also associated with a higher rate of severe complications and death, indicating the need for a careful and proper management of these critical cases in neonatal intensive care units.

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