Welcome to the Twelve Trials of Christmas series on EMinFocus! This is the ninth of twelve posts in a series where I ramble on various topics for which I would love to see an EM study done. I’ve taken morsels of prior studies (case series, small trials, etc) and highlight reasons on why I believe this study would benefit EM. Some may pan out, some may not. All of them I would be highly interested in assisting with in any way possible to continue to advance our fine specialty.
Simply put, for traumatic injuries, nerve blocks are the best source of pain control. If your only option of providing pain control for a femur fracture is to make the patient limp from your favorite opiate or giving tylenol, you have failed as a provider to keep up with current trends and literature. EM is all about having options in your toolbox.
Why are we not using nerve blocks? Can we train mid-levels to do these safely to provide a higher level of care and provide more job satisfaction?
I have seen patients with rib fractures go to observation for pain control and have been stonewalled in attempts to perform a block, either by myself or in consultation with anesthesia. This is despite evidence showing that nerve blocks work wonderfully during the EDs attempt at initial pain control, and with even better when a catheter is placed for continuous infusion. Nerve blocks for rib fractures also decrease mortality. In case you were wondering, lidoderm patches wont work.
So, can we perform an ED based study showing mid-levels can safely use ED ultrasound for blocks? We can already safely do sono guided liver biopsies, soft tissue foreign bodies, hip injections, transrectal prostate biopsies, and we can even be remotely guided for lung sono. Its time for an ED study demonstrating we can safely do this in the ED.