An Appy That Needs Epi: An Atypical Presentation of Anaphylaxis
This simulation is intended for 4th year medical students.
Shock is the result of inadequate circulation and failure to perfuse tissues, leading to cellular and organ dysfunction.1 Anaphylactic shock specifically is a type of distributive shock secondary to an IgE (immunoglobulin E) dependent reaction, which can result in respiratory compromise and cardiovascular collapse. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases/Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network (NIAID/FAAN) laid out three diagnostic criteria for the diagnosis of anaphylaxis. Fulfillment of any one of the three following criteria likely indicates anaphylaxis: 1) acute onset of illness with skin findings and either respiratory compromise or reduced blood pressure, 2) involvement of two or more organ systems after exposure to a likely allergen, 3) reduced blood pressure after exposure to a known allergen.2 While not a required component of the pathology, hives and cutaneous findings often prompt clinicians to consider anaphylaxis in their differential diagnosis. However, skin findings are absent in 10-20% of cases of anaphylaxis.3 It is therefore important for physicians to quickly recognize anaphylactic shock and begin appropriate management in a timely manner even in the absence of skin findings. A previous study of fatal anaphylactic reactions showed a median time to respiratory or cardiac arrest as 30 minutes for foods, 15 minutes for envenomations, and five minutes for iatrogenic reactions.4 Drugs are the most common reported cause of fatal anaphylaxis in the United States,5 and penicillin allergy is the most common drug allergy reported by patients.6 This simulation will help learners recognize an atypical presentation of anaphylactic shock, encourage them to consider anaphylaxis in their differential diagnosis for decompensated patients, and reinforce the correct management of anaphylaxis.
At the conclusion of the simulation, learners will be able to: 1) demonstrate ability to efficiently review patient records to optimize patient care and identify relevant details to current presentation, 2) rapidly assess a patient when there is a change in clinical status, 3) recognize the need to start resuscitative fluids for undifferentiated hypotension, 4) identify anaphylaxis, 5) demonstrate the medical management of anaphylaxis, 6) utilize the I-PASS framework to communicate with the inpatient team during the transition of care.
This summative simulation was designed to assess competence in two of the core Entrustable Professional Activities (EPAs), as defined by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). These include EPA 8 (Give or Receive a Patient Handover to Transition Care Responsibility) and EPA 10 (Recognize a Patient Requiring Urgent or Emergent Care and Initiate Evaluation and Management). It was performed with 4th year medical students at the conclusion of their month-long emergency medicine (EM) clerkship. This scenario joined seven other scenarios in our pool of potential cases. These sessions are conducted using a high-fidelity manikin as the patient and a confederate/actor in the nursing role. After each scenario concludes, there is a post-simulation debriefing session on the presentation, differential diagnosis, physical exam findings, and management of the target pathology. A Gather-Analyze-Summarize technique was used for the debriefing session.7
Facilitators provided informal feedback to the scenario developers after the case was introduced into the assessment rotation. Learners completed a standard evaluation issued by the College of Medicine for the entire session, rather than for individual scenarios. These evaluations were reviewed in aggregate for the first year of implementation. Over this time frame, approximately half the students were run through this scenario.
Overall, our facilitators felt the case fit well into our pool of simulation cases. They felt they were adequately able to assess the students’ ability to respond to a decompensating patient and thought the difficulty level was appropriate for 4th year medical students. The simulation assessment exercise as a whole was highly rated by the students. Of the 198 students who completed an evaluation, 93% rated the overall quality of the session as Very Good or Excellent.
Our department has run formative simulations during the 4th year EM clerkship for over ten years. Our primary objective is to assess 4th year students’ competence in EPA 10 (Recognize a Patient Requiring Urgent or Emergent Care and Initiate Evaluation and Management). This case was developed to replace another scenario of anaphylaxis which was felt to be too straightforward and easier than other scenarios in our repertoire. By making the scenario more difficult and the presentation of anaphylaxis a bit atypical, we were able to reinforce the need to include anaphylaxis in the differential diagnosis for any patient who rapidly decompensates. We are also able to review the diagnostic criteria for anaphylaxis and the appropriate treatment, including stopping the exposure to the antigen. This simulation proved to be highly engaging for 4th year medical students, and students seemed to perform at a similar level as previous summative simulations. Overall, we felt this simulation successfully achieved the objectives of the simulation session as a whole, and it was integrated into our 4th year EM clerkship simulation curriculum.
Medical simulation, emergency medicine, anaphylaxis, anaphylactic shock, allergic reaction, penicillin allergy.