Massive Upper Gastrointestinal Bleeding
This case is targeted to emergency medicine residents of all levels.
Upper gastrointestinal bleeding (UGIB) is a common chief complaint encountered in the emergency department, resulting in over 500,000 hospitalizations and 20,000 deaths annually in the United States.1 The diagnosis and management of UGIB in stable patients is typically fairly straightforward. However, there are a number of circumstances where the treatment of UGIB is much more challenging, and emergency medicine (EM) physicians should be familiar with, and have experience managing, these difficult presentations. Massive UGIB can necessitate the need for management of a difficult airway in the setting of airway contamination, as well as placement of a gastroesophageal balloon tamponade device. The appropriate use and indications for performing this high-risk/low-frequency procedure requires dedicated practice. Furthermore, the management of gastrointestinal hemorrhage in a patient with a religious objection to the administration of blood products, including Jehovah’s Witnesses, can be especially challenging and requires knowledge of alternative therapies to support blood pressure, oxygen carrying capacity, and decrease coagulopathy.2,3
By the end of this simulation, learners will be able to: 1) manage a hypotensive patient with syncope and hematemesis, 2) pharmacologically manage an acute UGIB addressing the various causes, 3) recognize worsening clinical status and intervene by performing difficult airway management, 4) place a gastroesophageal balloon tamponade device.
This simulation was conducted with a high-fidelity mannequin with a separate medium-fidelity intubating mannequin that was modified to allow rapid filling of the oropharynx with simulated blood. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a total of six EM residents in various levels of training participated in the simulated patient encounter while the rest of the learners watched the simulation and participated in the debrief via video conference.
Following the simulation and debrief session, all the residents, including those who participated in-person and via video conference, were sent a survey via surveymonkey.com to assess the educational quality of the simulation.
Overall residents expressed positive feedback on the scenario, noting that the case was realistic, appropriately complex, and improved their medical knowledge and procedural skills.
This case has a mixture of high-fidelity and medium-fidelity components which can be easily reproduced. The case was extremely useful in teaching EM residents of all levels not only how to manage large volume UGIB in a patient who is also a Jehovah’s Witness, but also how to manage the airway and place a gastroesophageal balloon tamponade device. The case starts with a patient presenting with syncope and as the case unfolds, the patient’s clinical status deteriorates, requiring learners to resuscitate, intubate, and obtain a gastroesophageal balloon tamponade.
Residents commented that managing this case of an UGIB was extremely challenging because it exposed and filled important gaps in both their knowledge and procedural skills. Residents struggled most with identifying alternative therapies to blood products in patients with religious objections, and the step-by-step process of placing a Blakemore tube.
Upper gastrointestinal bleed, hemorrhagic shock, Jehovah’s Witness, difficult airway.