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Are Tele-ICUs The Solution To The Critical Care Crisis?

America’s ICUs are in crisis. Consider these staggering statistics: Today’s ICUs Serve 4 million patients annually, with roughly 20 percent mortality rates among those treated. On average, every patient admitted to the ICU suffers 1.7 potentially life threatening errors every day and estimates show that patients only receive half of the therapies that they should. And 50,000 patients annually die in the ICU from preventable deaths.

But research indicates that ICU patients have lower risks of death and shorter ICU and hospital stays when an intensivist is on duty in the ICU and oversees patient care. The mortality reduction has ranged from 15 to 60 percent lower than in ICUs where there are no intensivists. However, the Committee for Manpower for Pulmonary and Critical Care Services predicts a shortage of 10,000 ICU physicians, called intensivists, who have extra training to specialize in the care of the ICU patient. This   national shortage of intensivists makes it extremely difficult to find intensivists that can provide 24/7 care for today’s ICU patients.

The answer to solving this crisis has emerged from the world of telemedicine. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Medgadget*

Nurse Prompts Are Key To Successful Implementation Of ICU Safety Measures

Over the last few years, you may have heard a lot about the value of checklists in ICU medicine and their ability to reduce mortality, reduce cost and reduce length of stay.   But a recent study took the concept one step further and suggested that checklists by themselves may not be  effective unless physicians are prompted to act on the checklist.

As reported in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Journal, a single site cohort study performed at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine’s medical intensive care unit compared two rounding groups of physicians.  One group was prompted to use the checklist.  The other group of physicians had access to the checklist but were not prompted to use it.

What they found was shocking.  Both groups had access to the checklist.  However, patients followed by physicians who were prompted to use the checklist had Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at The Happy Hospitalist*

Do Physicians Prefer Ventilated And Sedated Patients?

You ever wonder what doctors really think but are afraid to say out loud?  Here’s one example:

“I wish all my patients were on a ventilator”

There’s a reason vented and sedated patients are considered desirable.  In addition to the obvious economic benefits of

There are the less talked about, but equally pleasant side effects most hospitalists, ER doctors, cardiologists, gastroenterologists, pulmonologists,  surgeons, infectious disease doctors, endocrinologists, psychiatrists, rheumatologists, dermatologists, nurses, respiratory therapists and physical therapists wouldn’t admit, but would agree, without hesitation.  As a general rule:

  • Patients on ventilators are just faster, easier and more pleasant to take care of. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at The Happy Hospitalist*

Years Of Planning And Construction Lead To A One-Day Transition

Tomorrow we’ll be far away

Tomorrow is the judgement day

Tomorrow we’ll discover what our God in heaven has in store

One more dawn…

On an unrelated note, tomorrow morning at 5AM our new ER opens and the old one closes down. I’ll be there working clinically. To the degree that it doesn’t interfere with patient care, I’ll live-tweet the experience.

For those not familiar with the institution or the project — it’s a 110,000 annual visit ER closing down and reopening next door in a new, state of the art 83 bed ER, with an entire new 10-story hospital opening directly above at the same time, more or less. The logistics of the transition are pretty staggering. The ER will be the first unit to open. The old ambulance bay will have a barrier put up at 5AM and the new department’s ambulance bay and drop-off will be illuminated at that time and all new patients will go there. The staff closing out the old shop will dispo all the patients they can, and at a certain point, maybe by ten AM, any patients still in the old ER will roll across the skybridge to the new facility. We will open one cath lab and one OR in the new hospital while retaining capability at the old rooms. New patients admitted will go to the new tower and the old inpatient units will start discharging patients. By Friday, any patients still in the old tower will move across to the new inpatient units. They’ll be bringing the other ORs and interventional labs online in a stepwise fashion during the week. Interestingly, a lot of expensive equipment is being “salvaged” from the old hospital. For example, the telemetry monitors in the ICU — about half of the new ICU beds have monitors now. When a patient is discharged from the old ICU, they will take that monitor across to the new building and install it in a new ICU bed, which will only then become open for a new patient. Eventually, all the monitors will be re-installed in the new units. Elective surgeries are pretty much out this week. When everything is open we will have 16 ORs and 8 cath/vascular/EP labs with room for four more as need demands.

For the ER (and more importantly for ER patients) this will be Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Movin' Meat*

A Surgeon Watches Helplessly As His Patient Dies

Sometimes different people see the same thing from a slightly different angle, giving a completely different perspective. In my line this can turn out to be quite macabre.

It was one of those cases. It was probably hopeless from the beginning, but he was young and we had to give it a go. As soon as the abdomen was opened everyone knew things were bad. There was blood everywhere. It took a while to even see the damage to the liver because I needed to get rid of the blood in the abdomen before I could see anything. However, once I saw the liver even I was shocked.

The liver was ripped apart with one laceration dropping down to where the IVC sat menacingly behind it. It seemed to spit and splutter at my efforts to bring the bleeding under control in defiance of me. But I did what I could as fast as I could. At times like this the unsung hero is the anesthetist. If he can’t get fluid and blood into the patient fast enough, no matter what the surgeon does, it will be in vain. That day the anesthetist was great. Somehow he kept some semblance of a blood pressure in the patient against overwhelming odds. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at other things amanzi*

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

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How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

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Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

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The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

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Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

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