This case is inspired by listening to the RAGE podcast #2 – if you haven’t already listened, do so ASAP (download from iTunes) or click here.
RAGE = Resuscitationists Awesome Guide to Everything and is a nice 60 min or so podcast full of clinical pearls. Rural doctors may be wondering what relevance this has for them? Experienced rural docs know that ‘critical illness does not respect geography’ and it pays to be aware of useful tips and pearls.
So here’s today’s case, one which I’m also working though with the PRCC students attached to Kangaroo Island in 2014 in sim and theory. Then listen to RAGE podcast #2
The setting, as always, is a small rural ED in Australia. Transfer times are 60 mins by rotary wing, 2 hours by fixed wing (airstrip is remote from clinic and requires ambulance transfer by volunteer crews).
Facilities include small resus bay with point-of-care INR, proBNP and Chem 4/Chem 8 iStat, CXR (but you have to take the radiograph yourself), and the usual resus drugs, 2 lead ECG, telemetry, adrenaline as sole inotrope etc. There’s an old Oxylog 2000 plus transport ventilator. There is also an old SonoSite Titan ultrasound unit with linear and curvilinear transducers. Nearest CT scanner is 300 km away.
A 54 yo obese patient presents complaining of acute shortness of breath, approx 2 hours duration. She complains of pain on inspiration and feels unwell. She denies prodromal symptoms such as fever, chills, sputum. She is a smoker, on HRT and tells you that she flew in from London 5 days ago.
Q1 : What are possible causes of her acute dyspnoea? What key features on history and examination will help you decide?
Q2 : What are appropriate & available tests that may guide your management?
Q3 : Her ECG is as below. What does it show and what are your options?
Q4 : 30 mins later her SBP drops to 88/50 and remains so despite 2 x 250ml fluid load. HR 123 a/fib. Spo2 94% 15l via NRB. Apyrexic.
Results (iStat) show : Hb 145, pO2 63 mmHg, pCO2 33 mmHg, Aa gradient 24 mmHg, lactate 2.9, glu 6.2
Sadly the retrieval service are tied up with other urgent tasks in the State. They reckon they can get a physician-paramedic crew to you in 90 minutes via fixed wing at the earliest. Meanwhile she remains hypoxic, hypotensive and tachycardic. She looks grey and unwell and about to die…
Would you consider thrombolysis?
If so, what criteria or other tests would guide you?
Over to you…
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