Foamcastini – Do We Make Saves?


We are at SMACC in Dublin – thanks to the Rosh Review, an excellent board review question bank.

Do We Make Saves?

Dr. Mervyn Singer “Is Survival Predetermined in the Critically  Ill?”

  • Many critical care studies are negative, but in some cases this may be because critically ill patients don’t have a uniform prognosis.
  • Dr. Singer argues that some people may be “destined to die” and some may be “destined to live.”  Interventions may be harmful or futile in one group but beneficial in the other.  For example, Dr. Singer references the CORTICUS trial of steroids in septic shock [1]. This was a negative trial.  Dr. Singer asserts that some evidence (of not great quality), purports that the sickest patients could benefit from steroids, while this same intervention could be deleterious in the healthier ones.
  • Problem: many of the studies that go back and re-analyze these groups looking at the sickest or least sick patients? They perform subgroup analyses, a form of data dredging that must be taken with a huge grain of salt.

Favorite Pearls

Dr. Suzanne Mason – “Acute Care of the Elderly”

  • Hospital admission may not benefit geriatric patients – interdisciplinary interventions involving nurses, consultants, pharmacists, physical therapy may be best.
  • If there is a single, free intervention that providers can do it’s assessing for polypharmacy. Polypharmacy in the elderly is a huge problem.  Check the patient’s medication list and beware adding new medications that may not be absolutely necessary.

Dr. Victoria Brazil – “So You Think You’re a Resuscitationist?”

  • The Dunning-Kruger effect is real in medicine and this is why we MUST have and provide feedback.  A review of the Dunning-Kruger effect can be found here.  Essentially, people tend to overestimate what they know (i.e. overly confident in their knowledge). The exception?  Masters tend to underestimate their knowledge.

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  • Our perception of reality is very skewed so, again, feedback is crucial. For example, Cemalovic and colleagues found that intubators underestimated the time they took to intubate: they estimated 23.5 seconds on average vs the 45.5 seconds intubation actually took. Additionally, they thought 13% of their patients desaturated during intubation but 23% actually desaturated [2].

Also, there was an excellent tribute to the late Dr. John Hinds, a reminder that by living profoundly, you can impact people across the world.


  1. Sprung CL, Annane D, Keh D et al. Hydrocortisone Therapy for Patients with Septic Shock. N Engl J Med. 358(2):111-124. 2008. [article]
  2. Cemalovic N, Scoccimarro A, Arslan A, Fraser R, Kanter M, Caputo N. Human factors in the emergency department: Is physician perception of time to intubation and desaturation rate accurate? Emergency medicine Australasia : EMA. 28(3):295-9. 2016. [pubmed]

Sepsis: Redefined


The Society of Critical Care Medicine (SCCM)  and the European Society of Intensive Care Medicine (ESICM) redefined sepsis with the Third International Consensus Definitions for Sepsis and Septic Shock (Sepsis-3). Sepsis is life-threatening organ dysfunction due to dysregulated host responses to infection.  Septic shock is a subset of sepsis where underlying circulatory and cellular/metabolic abnormalities are profound enough to substantially increase mortality [2]. 

2003 vs 2016 Definitions of Sepsis [1-4]

Sepsis 3.0

Systemic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (SIRS) is out.  

  • Includes normal responses to infection (eg. fever and tachycardia is not dysregulated infection; it’s just infection)
  • SIRS even MISSES up to ⅛ very septic ICU pts (NEJM 2015) [5]. 

qSOFA is in. a qSOFA score of 2 or 3 or a rise in the SOFA score of 2.  The SOFA score requires a ton of lab values so the authors wanted something that could be assessed at triage, hence the quick SOFA score (qSOFA). The authors derived and retrospectively validated this score and compared it to SIRS in a cohort of 148,907 patients [3]

qSOFA scoring
qSOFA scoring   —@FOAMpodcast


  • Unclear how to interpret studies (EGDT through ProCESS, PROMISE, ARISE) with new definitions.
  • CMS is not going to adapt.
  • Not endorsed by ACEP or SAEM as emergency providers were not included.
  • qSOFA has not been prospectively validated. It’s unclear how it will perform in this fashion

Notes: Sepsis rates have increased over the past 10 years and it appears that mortality has decreased.  However, less sick patients are included  in this. It appears that the Sepsis 3 authors were hoping for a more specific definition.


  1. Levy MM, Fink MP, Marshall JC. 2001 SCCM/ESICM/ACCP/ATS/SIS International Sepsis Definitions Conference. Critical care medicine. 31(4):1250-6. 2003.
  2.  Singer M, Deutschman CS, Seymour CW, et al: The Sepsis Definitions Task Force The Third International Consensus Definitions for Sepsis and Septic Shock (Sepsis-3).
    AMA. 2016;315(8):801-810. doi:10.1001/jama.2016.0287.
  3.  Seymour CW, Liu V, Iwashyna TJ, et al. Assessment of clinical criteria for sepsis: For the Third International Consensus Definitions for Sepsis and Septic Shock (Sepsis-3).JAMA. 2016;315(8):762-774. doi:10.1001/jama.2016.0288.
  4. Shankar-Hari M, Phillips G, Levy ML, et al.Developing a New Definition and Assessing New Clinical Criteria for Septic ShockFor the Third International Consensus Definitions for Sepsis and Septic Shock (Sepsis-3) (JAMA, Feb 22, 2016).
  5. Kaukonen KM, Bailey M, Bellomo R. Systemic Inflammatory Response Syndrome Criteria for Severe Sepsis. The New England journal of medicine. 373(9):881. 2015.