My first piece of advice for all aspiring medical leaders would be this, 'don't bother' with a leadership course, as nothing can fully prepare you for the role. That said, please continue reading as I will try and provide an honest review of my time as President to the Society for Acute Medicine (SAM). Read More
A 63-year-old woman presented with fever, tachycardia and tachypnoea, with right sided chest and hypochondrial pain. Chest radiograph showed right basal consolidation and she was treated for community acquired pneumonia with intravenous antibiotics. Subsequent clinical deterioration in presence of a previous history of complicated diverticulitis, persistent right hypochondrial pain and deranged liver function tests prompted further investigations that confirmed presence of a large pyogenic liver abscess. Read More
A wide variety of conditions can present with acute thrombocytopenia, ranging from those that are relatively benign and self-limiting to those that require urgent therapeutic intervention. Initial decision-making relies on a good history and the results of some simple investigations. Although a precise diagnosis of the underlying cause might often not be possible in the acute setting, supportive treatments should be provided to all patients. Read More
Consultant Physicians in Critical Care, Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, Glasgow.
Shock is a life-threatening state commonly encountered by the acute physician. As such those practicing and training in the specialty should strive to become true experts in this field by going beyond even the learning provided by generic life support courses when involved with identifying and managing the shocked state. This article explores the current evidence, where it exists and provides a framework for approaching such patients along with common pitfalls. Read More
Background: Early identification of patients likely to have a short admission permits best use of limited resources to facilitate rapid discharge where possible. The ALICE score is a simple bedside tool developed in one hospital as a decision aid. This study sought to confirm its widespread applicability. Read More
Our aim was to prospectively assess the prognostic value of beta2-microglobulin (b2-M) in patients with acute pulmonary embolism (PE). We conducted a prospective study of 109 patients admitted in a pulmonary clinic due to acute PE. A panel of inflammatory markers including b2-M white blood cell (WBC) count and C-reactive protein (CRP) was determined for each patient. Read More
Young medical trainees all over the world are encouraged to investigate unknown areas of medicine that need clarification. This often leads them to undertake a PhD (Doctor of Philosophy). Being curious, critical, and creative are necessary competences which enable us to engender scientific research within acute (internal) medicine. Read More
The transition from registrar to consultant in medicine is one that trainees feel ill prepared for and can be extremely stressful. We devised the concept of an Acute Medicine "Finishing School" for senior trainees in London training programmes and ran sessions on CV writing, a simulated consultant interview, consultant job planning, responding to complaints and an out of hospital emergency scenario. Our feedback survey indicated that our delegates' confidence levels in all of the above aspects increased following the sessions. Read More
"Alcohol detox" is a common presentation to acute medical services and is usually managed via standardised guidelines and protocols. We present a case of chlordiazepoxide toxicity, requiring repeated bolus doses and subsequently 24 hours of an intravenous infusion of flumazenil in response to guideline directed management of an alcohol withdrawal state. The use of prolonged flumazenil infusions to treat benzodiazepine toxicity is infrequently described. Read More
Background: There are currently several different definitions for sepsis. This study looked at what proportion of acute medical admissions were identified by the different definitions, what correlation they have, and how many patients would require a review with results in 1 hour.
Methods: Data on 212 admissions was collected, on time of admission and review, and number of patients with sepsis by each diagnostic criteria calculated. Read More
Immunotherapy with 'checkpoint-inhibitors' has significantly improved outcomes for patients with a range of malignancies. However, significant immune-mediated toxicities of these therapies are well-described. These immune-mediated toxicities can affect virtually all organ systems and are potentially fatal. Read More
There are currently various models of care for provision of high dependency care for acutely ill medical patients across the UK. Acute Physicians are integral to the development and progression of this both challenging and rewarding area of medicine. This article outlines current standards, best evidence, and our own experience of both setting up and developing a medical high dependency unit (MHDU). Read More
Recovery from Acute Illness is dependent on severity of illness. We aimed to investigate whether resilience as the 'ability to bounce back' might also affect recovery. We conducted a scoping review to identify gaps in the existing literature. Read More
Unplanned medical 30 day readmissions place a burden on the provision of acute hospital services and are increasingly used as quality indicators to assess quality of care in hospitals. Multivariable logistic regression of a 10 year database showed that four factors were most strongly associated with early readmission: Charlson comorbidity index >=1, respiratory disease as a principal diagnosis, liver disease and alcohol-related illness as an additional diagnosis, and the number of previous readmissions. Disease and patient-related factors beyond control of the hospital are the factors most strongly associated with 30 day readmission to hospital, suggesting that this may not be an appropriate quality indicator. Read More
In the current climate of uncertainty over trainee working conditions and uneasy medical politics, more and more trainees are choosing to take planned time out of training. This is no longer considered an activity that unnecessarily prolongs one's training, and is generally welcomed by trainees and training programme directors alike. Read More
It has recently become apparent that a few trainees in Acute Internal Medicine (IM) have not been made aware of what the final outcome of their training might be. There is a need, therefore, to ensure that there are no surprises for individuals as they approach the end of training. Read More
Conducting research on the Acute Medical Unit (AMU) poses unique challenges; the environment is one that sees a diverse range of patient groups and pathologies and holds the potential for easy patient recruitment to research studies, however is geared towards a specific set of triage and discharge goals. We conducted a study into Stress Hyperglycaemia (SH) on a busy AMU, which involved profiling glycaemic changes using specialist equipment and interventions in patients with unscheduled medical admissions, and experienced a number of challenges. This article discusses these challenges and proposes potential solutions. Read More
A previously healthy 35-year old man presented to hospital with acute leg weakness following an alcohol binge. On assessment, tachycardia, urinary retention and bilateral upper and lower limb proximal weakness with preserved peripheral power were noted. Biochemistry revealed marked hypokalaemia, which responded to intravenous replacement, and biochemical thyrotoxicosis, leading to the diagnosis of Thyrotoxic Periodic Paralysis (TPP). Read More
Levamisole-induced vasculitis (LIV) is becoming an increasingly common entity secondary to both rising cocaine use in the UK and high levels of adulteration of cocaine with various contaminants. We report the first documented case of LIV secondary to adulterated cocaine in Ireland, which presented as a 6-year history of recurrent vasculitis of unknown aetiology. Classically, LIV is diagnosed by a combination of positive ANCA serology and agranulocytosis however, given the frequency of cocaine use, we urge acute physicians to consider the diagnosis in cases of typical retiform (angulated) purpura in association with a history of cocaine use. Read More
Point of care ultrasound (POCU) is becoming increasingly popular as an extension to clinical examination techniques. Specific POCU training pathways have been developed in specialties such as Emergency and Intensive Care Medicine (CORE Emergency Ultrasound and Core UltraSound Intensive Care, for example), but until this time there has not been a curriculum for the acutely unwell medical patient outside of Critical Care. We describe the development of Focused Acute Medicine Ultrasound (FAMUS), a curriculum designed specifically for the Acute Physician to learn ultrasound techniques to aid in the management of the unwell adult patient. Read More
Older people form a growing proportion and volume of those accessing urgent care. Non-specific presentations, multiple comorbidities and functional decline make assessment and management of this cohort challenging. Comprehensive Geriatric Assessment offers an evidence based framework to assess and mange older people, especially those with frailty. Read More
Introduction: Sepsis is one of the most frequent reasons for referral to emergency departments (EDs) worldwide. Sepsis becomes more serious when left untreated with a high mortality rate, exceeding even those of myocardial infarction and stroke. Therefore, much effort has been put in to start with appropriate therapy as early as possible. Read More
Introduction: General practitioners (GPs) and the emergency medical services (EMS) personnel have a pivotal role as points of entry into the acute care chain. This study was conducted to investigate the recognition of sepsis by GPs and EMS personnel and to evaluate the associations between recognition of sepsis in the pre-hospital setting and patient outcomes. Methods Design: prospective, observational study during a 12 week period in the emergency department (ED) of two academic hospitals. Read More
It had become a familiar routine. My seventh admission with diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) in a year. Each time I was admitted it was the same; a DKA protocol, a diabetes specialist nurse visit, and a few questions from the doctors checking if "everything is okay?" On each admission, I would be discharged home after a couple of days. Read More
MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxymethamfetamine, Ecstasy) is a widely used recreational drug. We present a case of pneumomediastinum as a complication of MDMA use in a 21-year-old man with no previous history of lung or gastrointestinal pathology. We have performed a literature review, and summarised the symptoms, signs, and prognosis for this under-recognised complication of a commonly used recreational drug. Read More
Unexplained fever and confusion is a common reason for emergency medical admission. When this occurs in the context of new urinary incontinence, a urinary tract infection may be considered to be the most likely cause. However it is also important to consider spinal pathology when this combination of symptoms arises. Read More
Chest pain with elevated serum troponin is a common clinical presentation and is normally managed as suspected myocardial infarction or acute coronary syndrome (ACS). We report a 49 year old man who presented with central chest pain sweating and breathlessness. He had a significantly elevated serum troponin I level and a subsequent angiogram showed near normal coronary arteries. Read More
Acute generalised exanthematous pustulosis is a rare drug-induced dermatosis with an incidence of 1-5 cases per million cases per year, characterised by the appearance of hundreds of sterile pustules over erythematous and oedematous skin. Fever and neutrophilia are usually present. It has a rapid course and usually resolves following discontinuation of the precipitating drug or as a result of topical corticosteroid treatment. Read More
The number of people aged over 60 years worldwide is projected to rise from 605 million in 2000 to almost 2 billion by 2050, while those over 80 years will quadruple to 395 million. Two-thirds of UK acute hospital admissions are over 65, the highest consultation rate in general practice is in those aged 85-89 and the average age of elective surgical patients is increasing. Adjusting medical systems to meet the demographic imperative has been recognised by the World Health Organisation to be the next global healthcare priority and is a key feature of discussions on policy, health services structures, workforce reconfiguration and frontline care delivery. Read More
Background: Deprivation increases admission rates; the specific effect of deprivation with regard to weekend admissions is unknown.
Methods: We calculated annual weekend admission rates for each small area population unit and related these to quintiles of Deprivation Index from 2002-2014. Univariate and multivariable risk estimates were calculated using truncated Poisson regression. Read More
Background: Readmissions within 30-days of hospital discharge are a problem. The aim was to determine if the Better Outcomes for Older Adults through Safe Transitions (BOOST) risk assessment tool was applicable within the UK.
Methods: Patients over 65 readmitted were identified retrospectively via a casenote review. Read More
Although there are national recommendations on the function of Acute Medicine Units (AMUs), there is no single agreed best model of care. Additionally, robust data is not always available to determine whether system changes have resulted in improvement. We designed an Excel file to interface with the hospital patient management system to provide real-time data on a number of metrics including AMU length of stay (AMULOS), mortality and readmissions. Read More
This article conveys concerns raised by delegates at the International SAM Conference (Manchester, 2015) regarding how to advance nursing practice in acute medicine. It endeavors to capture the essence of 'how to advance practice' and 'how to integrate advanced practice' within the workforce structures of an acute medicine unit (AMU). It addresses the production of tacit knowledge and the recognition and integration of this to developing the nursing workforce. Read More
Objectives: To ascertain the views of current Acute Internal Medicine (AIM) trainees on the strengths and weakness of the specialty, their training programmes, practical procedures and the provision of training days.
Methods: Online electronic survey circulated to all Higher Specialty Trainees (HST) in AIM. Participation was voluntary and all answers confidential. Read More
Soft tissue infections with Scedosporium spp. are an uncommon but serious and emerging cause of infection in immunocompromised patients. Acute Medical Units (AMUs) in the UK are increasingly managing patients with cellulitis in an outpatient setting, therefore acute physicians should be aware of some of the more uncommon causes of soft tissue infection, particularly in patients not responding to initial antibiotic therapy. Read More
Late HIV diagnosis is the most important predictor of HIV-related morbidity and mortality in the UK and often results from missed testing opportunities during earlier contact with health services. The HPA now recommends routine HIV testing be commissioned as a priority for all general medical admissions in high prevalence areas, such as Milton Keynes. We present the case of a patient admitted to our Medical Admissions Unit (MAU) managed initially for presumed septic complications of metastatic disease who was later found to have terminal HIV disease. Read More
A 62 year old Nepalese gentleman presented with left sided weakness and sensory loss. Initial brain CT scanning was suggestive of acute infarction but a subsequent MRI scan showed cysts with oedema. Cysticercosis serology was positive and a diagnosis of neurocysticercosis was made. Read More
Unscheduled acute hospital admissions and subsequent deaths in hospitals of patients considered palliative are increasing, despite many patients' preference to die at home. A large proportion of these patients are admitted via acute medical units or emergency departments. The integration of primary and secondary care within Wales should enhance the delivery of end-of-life care at home but unscheduled admission for patients with palliative care needs remains prevalent. Read More
Duplex scanning is utilised by many departments in the investigation of suspected DVT. NICE Guideline CG144 recommended repeat scanning for patients in whom the initial Wells score was 'likely' in the presence of a raised D-Dimer, following a normal first scan. Following implementation of this recommendation in our department there was a dramatic rise in the number of repeat scans being undertaken, all of which were negative for DVT. Read More
This was a retrospective review of five years' data relating to patients referred to the Acute Medical Unit (AMU) of a large teaching hospital with suspected Pulmonary Embolism (PE) during pregnancy or 6 weeks postpartum. During this period, 210 patients in this group underwent half-dose perfusion scanning as investigation for possible PE and were managed via our ambulatory pathway. Pulmonary embolism was diagnosed in 5. Read More
Aims: To create a system to co-ordinate the medical take, bed management and track patient flow. To use the system to continuously audit against Society for Acute Medicine Quality Indicators. To use the data to model patient flow and optimise working patterns to improve waiting times. Read More
Introduction: Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) is a rare prion disease classically manifesting with rapidly progressive dementia, abnormal movements and typical electroencephalographic (EEG) changes.
Case Report: A 74 year-old Caucasian man was recently discharged from another centre diagnosed with a stroke. He re-presented to our acute medical unit with worsening symptoms, and stroke remained the working diagnosis. Read More
Acute mitral regurgitation (acute MR) is a rare cause of acute respiratory distress, which can present diagnostic challenges. We present the case of a 57 year old man who developed acute shortness of breath subsequently associated with fever, raised white cells and elevated CRP. Chest x-ray revealed unilateral shadowing and he was treated for pneumonia, despite the finding of severe mitral regurgitation on echo. Read More
Introduction: NICE Clinical Guideline 144 recommends that patients with an unprovoked VTE, who do not have signs or symptoms of cancer on initial investigation, be considered for further investigation with an abdomino-pelvic CT to exclude occult malignancy. This study aimed to evaluate numbers of scans performed in a UK teaching hospital and outcomes, following this recommendation.
Methods: Retrospective review of CT scans performed before and after publication of the NICE guidance in 2012. Read More
Over the last decade, operating theatres and Intensive Care Units (ICUs) have established systematic methods for performing procedures on patients that have been shown to reduce complications and improve patient safety. Whilst the use of procedure rooms on Acute Medicine Units (AMUs) is highly recommended by patient safety groups and Royal College publications, they are not universally available or appropriately utilised. In this article we discuss a quality improvement project that was undertaken on an AMU at a large university teaching hospital in the United Kingdom, highlighting its successes and challenges. Read More
Objective: Measuring patient-reported outcome measures (PROMs) is a challenge in Acute Admission Units (AAUs), where patients present with a variety of pathologies. Generic PROMs may be used to measure the quality of care in this population. The main objective of this study was to assess the feasibility of measuring generic PROMs in a Dutch AAU. Read More
There has been little study of the relationship between resource utilisation, clinical risks and hospital costs in acute medicine with the question remaining as to whether current funding models reflect patient acuity. We examined the relationship between resource use for investigations/allied professional and patient episode costs in all emergency medical admissions admitted to our institution during 2008-2013. Univariate estimates were compared with a multivariate model adjusted for major cost predictors. Read More