Cefepime-Induced Neurotoxicity

By Martina McGrath, MD
February 20, 2018

Cefepime is a fourth generation cephalosporin with extended spectrum of coverage, including gram-positive and gram-negative organisms, such as Klebsiella pneumoniae, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Citrobacter and Serratia.1 It has activity against many multidrug-resistant gram negatives and is resistant to beta lactamases. Given its broad range of activity, it is a widely used and highly effective choice for hospitalized patients with a range of infections.

However, at elevated concentrations, cefepime can cross the blood-brain barrier Continue reading “Cefepime-Induced Neurotoxicity”

Mortality Prediction in Community-Acquired Pneumonia: The end of the road for SIRS?

By Martina McGrath, MD
December 19, 2017

In 2016, new consensus guidelines were issued for the clinical criteria for sepsis.1 The qSOFA score, incorporating tachypnea, low blood pressure and altered mental status, was proposed as a rapid, bedside assessment, and an alternative to SIRS criteria, to identify patients at high risk of adverse outcomes. Continue reading “Mortality Prediction in Community-Acquired Pneumonia: The end of the road for SIRS?”

Oxygen in Acute MI: Lack of Benefit and Possible Risk?

By Martina McGrath, MD
November 3, 2017

Acute myocardial infarction occurs where there is insufficient supply of oxygenated blood to an area of the heart, leading to myocardial injury and cell death. For decades, clinical guidelines have recommended the administration of supplemental oxygen as a first-line therapy for all patients experiencing myocardial ischemia, regardless of oxygen saturation.1 Continue reading “Oxygen in Acute MI: Lack of Benefit and Possible Risk?”

Palliative Care in Advanced Heart Failure

By Connor Emdin
September 20, 2017

Heart failure (HF) is the leading cause of hospitalization for adults over the age of 65 in the United States and is associated with poor short-term survival, with an estimated median survival of 1.5-3 years after diagnosis.1,2 In addition to causing significant morbidity and mortality, HF is associated with reduced quality of life, spiritual distress, depression, and anxiety.3
Continue reading “Palliative Care in Advanced Heart Failure”

Vancomycin as a Rare Cause of Drug-Induced Cytopenias

By Martina M. McGrath, MD
May 30, 2017

Vancomycin is a glycopeptide antibiotic, with activity against gram positive organisms, including MRSA. It is widely prescribed for hospital-acquired infections, device-related infections, and treatment of resistant organisms. While side effects such as red man syndrome, ototoxicity, and nephrotoxicity are well recognized, immune thrombocytopenia is a less common, but potentially severe, complication of vancomycin therapy. Indeed, because many affected patients are critically ill or treated with other potential culprit agents such as heparin, vancomycin-induced platelet destruction can go unrecognized. Continue reading “Vancomycin as a Rare Cause of Drug-Induced Cytopenias”

Syncope—Are We Missing an Important Cause?

By Adam Schaffer, MD
April 19, 2017

As a hospitalist, syncope is an admitting diagnosis that I consider a challenge. Syncope is a presentation that we see frequently, and so can start to seem routine. Though published estimates of the causes of syncope vary, most have shown that the etiologies of syncope that we are most concerned about—such as bradyarrhythmias or ventricular tachyarrhythmias—make up a minority of cases. In one retrospective cohort study of the causes of syncope in 987 patients who were referred for cardiac electrophysiology evaluation, bradyarrhythmias accounted for 13.6% of cases and ventricular tachyarrhythmias accounted for 12.1% of cases.1  Vasovagal syncope, among the more benign etiologies of syncope, accounted for 47.0% of cases. These numbers come from a population of patients who were referred for electrophysiology evaluation, and so it is very possible that cardiac arrhythmias were overrepresented in this population compared to an unselected group of patients. Thus clinicians who evaluate syncope patients need to remain vigilant in order to correctly identify the minority of syncope patients who have a potentially serious cause of their syncopal episode. Continue reading “Syncope—Are We Missing an Important Cause?”

Severe C. Difficile Infection: Vancomycin or Metronidazole as First-Line Therapy?

By Martina M. McGrath, MD
February 16, 2017

In 2011, there were almost half a million cases of Clostridium difficile (C. diff) infection in the US and 29,000 patients died from this disease.1 Initially recognized in the 1970s, a more virulent strain appeared in the early 2000s with increased associated mortality. Now one of the commonest health care-associated infections, C. diff has a disproportionate impact on patients who are frail, immunosuppressed, and malnourished. Between 15 and 50% of patients can suffer from recurrent C. diff infection, leading to increased health care costs and further risk of complications. Continue reading “Severe C. Difficile Infection: Vancomycin or Metronidazole as First-Line Therapy?”

qSOFA: A New Tool to Identify Early Sepsis

Updated Consensus Definitions for Sepsis—Emphasis on End-Organ Dysfunction

By Martina M. McGrath, MD
January 19, 2017

In February 2016, a joint task force comprised of members of the Society of Critical Care Medicine and the European Society of Intensive Care Medicine published new consensus definitions of sepsis and septic shock. The aim was to reflect an updated understanding of the pathophysiology of sepsis and to develop a clinical tool to allow rapid identification of patients at risk of increased mortality. Several points worthy of note are outlined below: Continue reading “qSOFA: A New Tool to Identify Early Sepsis”