Developing an intervention around referral and admissions to intensive care: a mixed-methods study (2019)

Type of publication:
Journal article

Author(s):
Bassford C, Griffiths F, Svantesson M, Ryan M, Krucien N, Dale J, Rees S, Rees K, Ignatowicz A, Parsons H, Flowers N, Fritz Z, Perkins G, Quinton S, Symons S, White C, Huang H, Turner J, Brooke M, McCreedy A, Blake C & Slowther A.

Study involved patients at Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust

Citation:
Health Services and Delivery Research 2019, Vol 7, Issue 39

Abstract:
Background: Intensive care treatment can be life-saving, but it is invasive and distressing for patients receiving it and it is not always successful. Deciding whether or not a patient will benefit from intensive care is a difficult clinical and ethical challenge.
Objectives: To explore the decision-making process for referral and admission to the intensive care unit and to develop and test an intervention to improve it.
Methods: A mixed-methods study comprising (1) two systematic reviews investigating the factors associated with decisions to admit patients to the intensive care unit and the experiences of clinicians, patients and families; (2) observation of decisions and interviews with intensive care unit doctors, referring doctors, and patients and families in six NHS trusts in the Midlands, UK; (3) a choice experiment survey distributed to UK intensive care unit consultants and critical care outreach nurses, eliciting their preferences for factors used in decision-making for intensive care unit admission; (4) development of a decision-support intervention informed by the previous work streams, including an ethical framework for decision-making and supporting referral and decision-support forms and patient and family information leaflets. Implementation feasibility was tested in three NHS trusts; (5) development and testing of a tool to evaluate the ethical quality of decision-making related to intensive care unit admission, based on the assessment of patient records. The tool was tested for inter-rater and intersite reliability in 120 patient records.
Results: Influences on decision-making identified in the systematic review and ethnographic study included age, presence of chronic illness, functional status, presence of a do not attempt cardiopulmonary resuscitation order, referring specialty, referrer seniority and intensive care unit bed availability. Intensive care unit doctors used a gestalt assessment of the patient when making decisions. The choice experiment showed that age was the most important factor in consultants’ and critical care outreach nurses’ preferences for admission. The ethnographic study illuminated the complexity of the decision-making process, and the importance of interprofessional relationships and good communication between teams and with patients and families. Doctors found it difficult to articulate and balance the benefits and burdens of intensive care unit treatment for a patient. There was low uptake of the decision-support intervention, although doctors who used it noted that it improved articulation of reasons for decisions and communication with patients.
Limitations: Limitations existed in each of the component studies; for example, we had difficulty recruiting patients and families in our qualitative work. However, the project benefited from a mixed-method approach that mitigated the potential limitations of the component studies.
Conclusions: Decision-making surrounding referral and admission to the intensive care unit is complex. This study has provided evidence and resources to help clinicians and organisations aiming to improve the decision-making for and, ultimately, the care of critically ill patients.
Future work: Further research is needed into decision-making practices, particularly in how best to engage with patients and families during the decision process. The development and evaluation of training for clinicians involved in these decisions should be a priority for future work.
Study registration: The systematic reviews of this study are registered as PROSPERO CRD42016039054, CRD42015019711 and CRD42015019714.
Funding: The National Institute for Health Research Health Services and Delivery Research programme. The University of Aberdeen and the Chief Scientist Office of the Scottish Government Health and Social Care Directorates fund the Health Economics Research Unit.

Link to full-text [no password required]

Severe Hypercalcaemia in Intensive Care: An unusual cause (2019)

Type of publication:
Conference abstract

Author(s):
*Zi Hao Reuel Heng, *Rhys Parry, *Omu Davies, *Roger Slater

Citation:
State of the Art 2019, Intensive Care Society Conference, Birmingham, December 9-12.

Abstract:
Background: Severe hypercalcemia is defined as serum calcium > 3.5 mmol/l.
Major causes of hypercalcemia in adults include primary hyperparathyroidism, milk-alkali syndrome and malignant neoplasms. Neoplasms cause hypercalcaemia either by direct invasion (metastasis) or through factors that stimulate osteoclasts (Parathyroid hormone related peptide or PTHrP). Very rarely a benign tumour can be responsible. Clinical features of hypercalcemia correlate with degree and rapidity of rise of serum calcium. Severe hypercalcemia is associated with neurological, renal and gastrointestinal symptoms.
The differential diagnosis of the cause is determined by measuring parathyroid hormone (PTH) levels.
The case: A 33-year-old woman 37/52 pregnant presented with epigastric pain, vomiting, proteinuria and hypertension and a deteriorating GCS (11/15). A CT head was normal. Blood showed hyperuricaemia and acute kidney injury. She was transferred to the operating room for caesarean section with suspected fulminating pre-eclampsia following a fall in GCS to 8. Immediately prior to general anaesthetic induction she had a generalized seizure. She was induced, intubated and commenced on IV magnesium and labetolol. Following successful delivery, a large pedunculated fibroid was noted on the left side of the uterus. She was transferred to intensive care sedated, intubated and ventilated. Routine blood testing demonstrated severe hypercalcaemia, corrected serum calcium of 5.05 mmol/l. PTH was at the lower limit at 1.3 pmol/l (normal range 1.3 – 7.6 pmol/l). Treatment consisted of IV rehydration with 0.9% sodium chloride 4 litres in 24hr, IV Pamidronate (a bisphosphonate) 60mg over 2 hours. Over the next 3 days the serum calcium returned to normal. A literature search uncovered 3 reports of benign uterine leiomyomas having been the source of ectopic PTHrP leading to hypercalcaemia [1,2,3]. In this case, the uterine fibroid was presumed to have been the source of PTHrP. Unfortunately, direct measurement of PTHrP was not possible at the time of presentation. In view of the fact that the calcium had returned to normal with medical treatment and post-delivery, it was decided to defer further surgery. The patient was successfully weaned from ventilatory support after 5 days. She was monitored and calcium remained within normal limits. 3/12 later the fibroid was removed. The histology showed a mitotically active smooth muscle leiomyoma.
Conclusion: Uterine leiomyoma can rarely be a cause of hypercalcaemia in the critically ill obstetric patient. Severe hypercalcaemia can present in a similar manner to pre-eclampsia, and can worsen pre-eclampsia. Intensivists need to be aware of this condition.
Discussion: The clinical picture was strongly suggestive of severe hypercalcaemia associated with a uterine fibroid. The history did not reveal ingestion of excessive calcium-containing antacids sufficient to cause hypercalcaemia. A hypercalcaemic crisis can occur during pregnancy; the immediate postpartum period being the most likely time,. At this time, relative dehydration and an abrupt decrease in placental transport of calcium to the foetus can coexist. Severe hypercalcaemia can rarely produce seizures, the mechanism is thought to be due to cerebro-vasospasm.
References
1.Ravakhah K, Gover A, Mukunda B. Humoral Hypercalcemia Associated with a Uterine Fibroid. Annals of Internal Medicine 1999; 130: 702.
2.Tarnawa E, Sullivan S, Underwood P et al. Severe hypercalcemia Associated with Uterine Leiomyoma in Pregnancy. Obstetrics & Gynecology 2011;117: 473-476
3.Garcha A, Gumaste P, Cherian S et al. Hypercalcemia: An Unusual Manifestation of Uterine Leiomyoma. Case Reports in Medicine 2013; Article ID 815252.

Link to full-text [no password required]

Blowing bubbles helps intubation (2017)

Type of publication:
Journal article

Author(s):
*Howe, D.

Citation:
Indian Journal of Critical Care Medicine; Oct 2017; vol. 21 (no. 10); p. 710-711

Abstract:
Rocuronium is commonly used in preference to suxamethonium for rapid sequence induction in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). We describe a patient who suffered significant neck trauma following a suicide attempt. On initial presentation to accident and emergency, he was an easy intubation with a Grade 1 view obtained at laryngoscopy. After surgery to repair his neck laceration, he was extubated and discharged from ICU. He later developed a severe aspiration pneumonia and required reintubation. After induction and paralysis with suxamethonium, the best view at laryngoscopy was a Grade 3 despite the use of different laryngoscopes. As the muscle paralysis wore off the patient began breathing. This produced bubbles in the back of the patient’s pharynx which directed the clinician to the laryngeal inlet to allow successful intubation. In this case, the short duration of action of suxamethonium significantly aided intubation due to the return of spontaneous breathing by the patient.

Link to full-text [no password required]

The use of a remifentanil infusion and elective tracheostomy to avoid ventilation in a patient with tetanus (2014)

Type of publication:
Journal article

Author(s):
*Redshaw C., *Slater R.

Citation:
Journal of the Intensive Care Society, April 2014, vol./is. 15/2(161-163), 1751-1437

Abstract:
Tetanus is very rare in developed countries but the mortality is still high in the elderly population despite access to intensive care medicine. Death can frequently occur from secondary complications due to the need to sedate, paralyse and ventilate patients in an effort to control spasms. We describe the case of a 77-year-old man with tetanus in whom we successfully controlled tetanic spasms with a remifentanil infusion where conventional treatment failed, thus preventing the need for mechanical ventilation. We also describe the use of an elective percutaneous tracheostomy which was performed for airway protection. This prevented him from developing pneumonia from aspirating the excess secretions caused by the autonomic features of tetanus.