TOP 100 SECRETS of Critical care
1. Elevated lactate levels suggest tissue hypoperfusion, and normal lactate clearance is
suggestive of adequate fluid resuscitation.
2. Always assume that even a single episode of hypotension in a trauma patient is due to
bleeding, and proceed accordingly.
3. Good cardiopulmonary resuscitation can make a difference for a successful resuscitation
from cardiac arrest. Know and perform it well.
4. Time to defibrillation is the most important factor in a return of spontaneous circulation
from ventricular tachycardia and/or ventricular fibrillation.
5. Pulse oximetry is good for continuous monitoring, but arterial blood gases (ABGs) are
best for diagnosis and acute management. If oximetry does not fit the clinical picture,
obtain an ABG.
6. Use the alveolar gas equation to help understand mechanisms of hypoxemia.
7. Hemodynamic monitoring assesses whether the circulatory system has adequate
performance to supply oxygen and sustain the “fire of life.” Monitoring provides data to
guide therapy but is not therapeutic.
8. There is no proved benefit to colloid over crystalloid in acute resuscitation.
9. Starting enteral nutrition early in critically ill patients increased survival.
10. Enteral feeding in patients with shock is acceptable after the patient is resuscitated and
hemodynamically stable, even if the patient is receiving stable lower doses of
11. The primary indications for mechanical ventilation are inadequate oxygenation, inadequate
ventilation, and elevated work of breathing.
12. Low tidal volume mechanical ventilation can lead to improved outcomes in the patient with
acute respiratory distress syndrome.
13. Daily weaning assessments improve patient outcomes.
14. The rate of central venous catheter–related bloodstream infections can be reduced through
a combination of the use of maximal sterile barrier precautions, 2% chlorhexidine-based
antiseptic, centralization of line insertion supplies, and daily evaluation of the need for
continued central access.
15. Subclavian venous catheters have the lowest risk of bloodstream infection.
16. Lung sliding on ultrasound examination effectively rules out pneumothorax at the site of
17. Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation can be used successfully in patients with
respiratory failure in whom low tidal volume ventilation is failing.
18. Nonrecognition of an esophageal intubation leads to death; direct visual confirmation
or detection of carbon dioxide must be done to confirm the proper location of an
19. If a tracheostomy tube falls out of its stoma within the first 1 to 5 days of placement, do not
attempt to reinsert it blindly. Perform translaryngeal intubation instead because blind
attempts at reinsertion misplace the tube into a paratracheal track, compress the trachea,
and cause asphyxia.
20. Any airway or stomal bleeding that develops more than 48 hours after tracheotomy should
suggest the possibility of a tracheoarterial fistula, which develops as a communication
between the trachea and a major intrathoracic artery.
21. A retrospective study showed that positive pressure ventilation (PPV) does not influence
the rate of recurrent pneumothorax or chest tube placements after removal. Consequently,
presence of mechanical PPV is not an indication to leave a chest tube in place.
22. Chest physiotherapy appears to be as effective as bronchoscopy in treating atelectasis,
although bronchoscopy has a role in retained, inspissated secretions or foreign bodies.
23. Pulmonary artery line placement in patients with a newly implanted (less than 3 months)
implantable cardioverter defibrillator or pacemaker is associated with high risk of lead
dislodgment, especially if there is a coronary sinus lead.
24. Intraaortic balloon pumps should be considered in patients who may benefit from
increased diastolic pressures (persistent refractory angina, cardiovascular compromise
from myocardial ischemia/infarction) or decreased afterload (acute mitral regurgitation,
25. Clinical judgment should supplement severity of illness scores in defining patients with
severe community-acquired pneumonia.
26. The use of clinical criteria alone will lead to the overdiagnosis of ventilator-associated
27. A normal PCO2 in acute asthma is a warning sign of impending respiratory failure.
28. Noninvasive mechanical ventilation reduces the need for intubation in patients with a
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease exacerbation and impending respiratory failure.
29. Chronic hypoxemia is the most common cause of pulmonary hypertension.
30. Patients with acute lung injury and acute respiratory distress syndrome die of multiorgan
dysfunction far more frequently than they do of refractory hypoxemia.
31. For most patients, bronchial artery embolization is the treatment of choice to stop
hemorrhaging in massive hemoptysis.
32. Because death from massive hemoptysis is more commonly caused by asphyxiation than
exsanguination, it is important to emergently maintain airway patency and protect the
33. Deep venous thrombosis and pulmonary embolism are common and often
underdiagnosed in critically ill patients.
34. The key to treating heart failure is determining the cause, that is, reduced ejection fraction,
normal/preserved ejection fraction, restrictive cardiomyopathy, hypertrophic
cardiomyopathy, or right ventricular failure.
35. The best clinical guide to help in choosing which treatment is appropriate for the critically ill
patient with heart failure is to assess volume and perfusion status.
36. Acute myocardial infarction, complicated by out-of-hospital cardiac arrest, has a very high
mortality, and hypothermia may improve chances for survival and neurologic recovery.
37. It is important to distinguish hemodynamically unstable arrhythmias that need immediate
cardioversion/defibrillation from other more stable rhythms.
38. When managing acute aortic dissection, adequate beta blockade must be established
before the initiation of nitroprusside to prevent propagation of the dissection from a reflex
increase in cardiac output.
39. Pulsus paradoxus is when there is respiratory variation on arterial waveform seen during
pericardial tamponade of >10 mm Hg.
40. Severe sepsis ¼ sepsis plus acute organ dysfunction.
41. Early diagnosis and therapeutic interventions in patients with severe sepsis or septic shock
are associated with better outcomes.
42. Between 60% and 80% of cases of endocarditis result from streptococcal infection.
Staphylococcus aureus tends to be the most common etiologic agent of infective
endocarditis in intravenous (IV) drug users.
43. Streptococcus pneumoniae remains the most common cause of community-acquired
bacterial meningitis, and treatment directed to this should be included in the initial empiric
44. Most patients do not require computed tomographic scan before lumbar puncture;
however, signs and symptoms that suggest elevated intracranial pressure should prompt
imaging. These include new-onset neurologic deficits, new-onset seizure, and papilledema.
Severe cognitive impairment and immune compromise are also conditions that warrant
consideration for imaging.
45. If you suspect disseminated fungal infection, do not wait for cultures to treat.
46. Reducing multidrug-resistant bacteria can only be accomplished by using fewer
antibiotics, not more.
47. Clinical or laboratory identification of an unusual pathogen (i.e., anthrax, smallpox, plague)
should raise suspicion for a biologic attack.
48. Pain disproportionate to physical findings; skin changes including hemorrhage, sloughing, or
anesthesia; rapid progression; crepitus; edema beyond the margin of erythema; and systemic
involvement should prompt intense investigation for deep infection and involvement of
surgical consultants as needed in the case of necrotizing fasciitis or gas gangrene.
49. During influenza season all persons admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU) with
respiratory illness should be presumed to have influenza and be tested and treated.
50. Asplenic individuals are at risk for infection with encapsulated organism.
51. The greatest degree of immunosuppression in solid organ transplant recipients is in the 1
to 6 months after transplantation.
52. Severe hypertension in absence of end organ damage can be safely treated outside
the setting of intensive care and reduction in blood pressure be achieved gently over
hours to days.
53. The serum creatinine level may not change much during acute renal failure in patients with
decreased muscle mass.
54. In the analysis of acid-base disorders, a normal serum pH does not imply that there is not
an acid-base disorder; rather it points to mixed disorder.
55. Serum magnesium level should be checked and corrected, if low, in patients with refractory
56. Overly rapid correction of hyponatremia or hypernatremia can result in devastating
long-term neurologic sequelae.
57. If a patient has neurologic symptoms associated with hyponatremia, one of the immediate
goals of therapy should be correction of serum sodium to a safe level.
58. Be systematic in your workup of gastrointestinal tract bleeding. Follow an algorithm.
59. In a patient with acute pancreatitis, make sure the patient’s fluid is replenished with an
adequate amount of IV fluid. This is as important as, if not more important than, the other
facets of treatment, including pain control, nutritional support, correcting electrolyte
abnormalities, treating infection (if present), and treating the underlying cause.
60. Steroids should be considered for the treatment of severe alcoholic hepatitis as defined by
a Maddrey’s discriminate score 32.
61. Abdominal compartment syndrome is an underappreciated diagnosis.
62. This is no secret—we all share the responsibility for reducing nosocomial infections.
63. Worsening confusion or a new impairment in mental state during treatment of diabetic
ketoacidosis or hyperosmolar hyperglycemic state is life-threatening cerebral edema until
64. Administering insulin without adequate fluid replacement during treatment of diabetic
ketoacidosis or hyperosmolar hyperglycemic state can lead to profound hypotension,
shock, or cardiovascular collapse.
65. An IV insulin infusion is the safest and most effective way to treat hyperglycemia in critically
66. If the blood pressure of an ICU patient with septic shock responds poorly to repeated fluid
boluses and vasopressors, hydrocortisone should be given regardless of cortisol levels.
67. In most cases you do not need to treat nonthyroidal illness syndrome with levothyroxine
despite low thyroxine, triiodothyronine, and thyroid-stimulating hormone levels; instead
follow expectantly, and recheck laboratory values in 4 to 6 weeks.
68. Stable anemia is well tolerated in critically ill patients. Transfuse blood products only when
necessary or if hemoglobin level drops below 7 gm/dL.
69. Although disseminated intravascular coagulation typically presents with bleeding or
laboratory abnormalities suggesting deficient hemostasis, hypercoagulability and
accelerated thrombin generation actually underlie the process.
70. Surgery for cord compression can keep people ambulatory longer than radiation alone.
71. For a neutropenic fever, draw cultures, give broad-spectrum antibiotics, then complete the
72. In a patient in the ICU who is seen with multiorgan failure or a clinical picture resembling
fulminant sepsis, consider the diagnosis of systemic lupus erythematosus or vasculitis.
73. Respiratory pattern, autonomic functions, and brain stem reflexes are critical in identifying
the cause of coma and should be recorded in all patients.
74. No ancillary test can replace an experienced clinical examination for determination of brain
75. The mainstay of treatment for status epilepticus includes stabilizing the patient, controlling
the seizures, and treating the underlying cause.
76. ICU admission, invasive hemodynamic monitoring, and respiratory support with frequent
vital capacity measurements are keys to following patients with Guillain-Barre´ syndrome.
77. Tachypnea is often the first sign of respiratory muscle weakness. Respiratory muscle
strength is ideally measured by maximum inspiratory flow and vital capacity (VC) in
patients with myasthenia gravis. A quick surrogate for forced VC is to ask the patient to
count to the highest number possible during one expiration.
78. Benzodiazepines are the preferred agents for the treatment of alcohol withdrawal.
79. Time should not be wasted pursuing radiographic confirmation when a tension
pneumothorax is suspected in a hemodynamically unstable patient. Either formal tube
thoracostomy should be immediately performed or an Angiocath inserted into the second
intercostal space along the midclavicular line.
80. The condition of a significant number of patients with flail chest and/or pulmonary
contusion can be safely and effectively managed without intubation by using aggressive
pulmonary care, including face-mask oxygen, continuous positive airway pressure, chest
physiotherapy, and pain control.
81. The model for end-stage liver disease (MELD) calculates the severity of liver disease.
82. Delirium is a disturbance of consciousness with inattention, accompanied by a change in
cognition or perceptual disturbances that develop over a short period of time, fluctuate over
days, and remain underdiagnosed.
83. Therapeutic hypothermia (temperature 30 -34 C) improves neurologic outcomes in
comatose survivors of cardiac arrest.
84. Heat stroke is a true medical emergency requiring immediate action: Delay in cooling
85. When caring for a critically ill poisoned patient, the diagnostic and therapeutic interventions
should be started on the basis of the clinical presentation, with use of the history, the
physical examination, and recognition of toxidromes.
86. Syrup of ipecac and gastric lavage have no role in the routine management of the poisoned
87. Oral or IV N-acetylcysteine should be administered promptly to any patient with suspected
or confirmed acetaminophen toxicity.
88. Patients with methanol and ethylene glycol ingestions present with an osmolal gap, which
closes with metabolism and develops an anion gap acidosis. Isopropanol toxicity begins
with an osmolal gap but is not metabolized to an anion gap.
89. Patients with toxic alcohol ingestion and any vision disturbance, severe metabolic acidosis,
or renal failure should undergo urgent hemodialysis.
90. The treatment of choice for calcium channel blocker toxicity is hyperinsulinemiaeuglycemia
therapy to maximize glucose uptake into cardiac myocytes.
91. Neuroleptic malignant syndrome can occur at any age in either sex with exposure to any
92. Although radiologic investigations and drug treatment may carry some risk of harm to the
fetus, necessary tests and treatment should not be avoided in the critically ill mother.
93. Patients and their families are the experts on the patient’s goals and values, and clinicians
are the experts on determining which clinical interventions are indicated to try to achieve
reasonable clinical goals.
94. Timely ethics consultation in the ICU may mitigate conflict and reduce ICU length of stay,
hospital length of stay, ventilator days, and costs.
95. Only discuss treatment choices after the patient or family has been updated on medical
condition, prognosis, and possible outcomes and once overall goals of medical care are
96. Family conferences are more successful when providers listen more and talk
less. Encourage the family to discuss their understanding of illness, their emotions,
and who the patient is as a person. Then respond with statements of support and
97. All patients with impending brain death or withdrawal of care should be screened for the
possibility of organ donation.
98. The gap between those patients awaiting a transplant and those donating organs is widening exponentially—the vast majority of those on the transplant list will die waiting.
99. The hospital systems investing today in advanced informatics, automated decision analysis, telemedicine, and/or regionalized care will be the leading systems tomorrow.
100. Patient safety remains a concern in critically ill patients, and a primary barrier to improving patient safety is physicians’ inability to change their practice patterns.
”MYTHS AND FACTS OF MEDICAL PRACTICE”
*1. MYTH – MEDICAL PROFESSION IS A NOBLE PROFESSION*..
FACT- EVERY PROFESSION, WHETHER OF A TEACHER, SOLDIER, TAILOR OR SHOPKEEPER, IS NOBLE, IF DONE WITH SINCERITY AND INTEGRITY.
*A CARELESS DOCTOR CAN KILL ONE**, A CARELESS DRIVER CAN KILL DOZENS, A CARELESS ENGINEER CAN KILL HUNDREDS..
*2. MYTH – AS IT IS A SERVICE TO HUMANITY, DOCTORS SHOULD NOT RUN AFTER MONEY*.
FACT – MONEY IS AN IMPORTANT MEASURE OF SUCCESS. RUNNING AFTER IT IS NOT GOOD FOR ANYBODY, BUT EARNING MORE MONEY BY DOING MORE WORK IS NOT A MORAL CRIME.
AND ALL WHO ADVISING DOCTORS, THEMSELVES RUNNING AFTER MONEY, AREN’T THEY?
*3. MYTH – DOCTORS MUST BE HUNDRED PERCENT HONEST.*
FACT- DOCTORS DO NOT COME FROM MARS OR VENUS. IF SUPREME COURT JUDGES OR ARMY GENERALS CAN BE CORRUPT, SO CAN A FEW DOCTORS. AS A CLASS, THEY ARE STILL BETTER THAN POLITICIANS, BUREAUCRATS, LAWYERS, POLICE OR PSU ENGINEERS.
*4. MYTH – MOST OF THE TIME, DOCTORS DO NOT UNDERSTAND THE DISEASE AND WRITE UNNECESSARY AND COSTLY DRUGS AND ADVISE TESTS AND TREAT ON A TRIAL BASIS.*
FACT- DOCTOR PATIENT RELATIONSHIP IS BASED ON TRUST, IF YOU DO NOT TRUST YOUR DOCTOR, GO TO ANOTHER ONE. MEDICAL SCIENCE IS A LIFE LONG LEARNING PROCESS, AND ALL TREATMENT, TO SOME EXTENT IS BASED ON TRIAL AND ERROR. THE SAME MEDICINE, WHICH WORKS FOR ONE PATIENT MAY NOT WORK ON ANOTHER.
SECOND, THE RESPONSIBILITY OF PROVIDING QUALITY DRUGS AT AFFORDABLE PRICES LIES NOT WITH THE DOCTOR, BUT WITH THE STATE AUTHORITIES, JUST LIKE PROVIDING FOR BETTER ROADS, UNADULTERATED QUALITY FOOD AND DAIRY PRODUCTS, UNINTERRUPTED POWER AND WATER SUPPLY ETC AND ETC. LIKE CLOTHS, CARS AND MOBILE PHONES, COSTLY DRUGS ARE GENERALLY BETTER THAN CHEAP ONES. HOWEVER, IF THE GOVERNMENT MAKES IT MANDATORY TO WRITE GENERICS, IT SHOULD ENSURE QUALITY AND THE CONSEQUENCE OF POOR/NON EFFICACY SHOULD NOT BE BLAMED ON DOCTORS.
THIRD, TESTS ARE DONE FOR PATIENT’S OWN SAFETY. JUST LIKE WEARING A HELMET OR SEAT BELT, INVESTIGATIONS INCREASE THE SAFETY. MOST OF THE DOCTORS IN INDIA ARE TRAINED TO WORK ON CLINICAL HUNCH AND COMMON SENSE AND NOT RELY TOO MUCH ON TESTS, AND ADVISE MUCH LESS TESTS THAN WHAT IS ACTUALLY WRITTEN IN THE BOOK OR DONE IN THE DEVELOPED WORLD.
*5. MYTH – TREATMENT COSTS ARE INCREASING IRRATIONALLY*.
FACT- COMPARED TO WESTERN WORLD, TREATMENT COSTS IN INDIA ARE STILL VERY LOW, AND MANY FOREIGNERS ARE COMING HERE FOR THIS REASON. AND IT WOULD BE WORTHWHILE TO THINK ABOUT ANY OTHER SERVICE OR PRODUCT WITH AS RAPID ADVANCEMENT IN TECHNOLOGY AND EQUIPMENT AS MEDICAL SCIENCE, WHOSE COST IS NOT INCREASING
*6. MYTH – DOCTORS ARE NEXT TO GOD*..
FACT – DOCTORS ARE AS HUMAN AS CAN BE. THEY ALSO GET TIRED, FALL SICK, HAVE FAMILY COMMITMENTS, GET UPSET AND STRESSED SOMETIMES AND CAN SUFFER FROM ALL THE FRAILTIES OF A HUMAN BEING. IF ANYONE WANTED TO BE TREATED BY GOD THEN THEY CAN VISIT THE TEMPLE..
Wife, “My husband has swallowed his Pancard, by mistake. Doctor, do something, immediately.”
Doctor, ” Get him to swallow his Aadhar, both need to be linked, before I attempt anything.”