The targeted audience for this simulation are emergency medicine providers, including residents as well as advanced practice providers, to properly educate on recognizing, diagnosing, and managing methemoglobinemia.
Methemoglobinemia is a blood disorder characterized by the presence of ferric form of hemoglobin in the blood. This form of hemoglobin can carry oxygen but is unable to release it effectively causing a range of symptoms including headache, dizziness, nausea, and cyanosis. It is rarely congenital and mostly caused by the exposure to oxidizing agents, such as local anesthetics and quinolones.1 Normally, oxygen can bind to hemoglobin while it is in the ferrous state (Fe2+). In cases of methemoglobinemia, the heme iron configuration is converted from ferrous (Fe2+) to ferric (Fe3+), making it unable to bind to oxygen. As a result, normal ferrous hemes experience an increased affinity for oxygen causing a leftward shift in the oxygen dissociation curve. This in turn causes functional anemia due to reduced oxygen carrying capacity.1Methemoglobinemia can result from exposure to different medications as well as environmental factors and presents like other disease processes including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease exacerbations. Congenital methemoglobinemia due to cytochrome b5 reductase deficiency is very rare, but the actual incidence is not known. Increased frequency of disease has been found in Siberian Yakuts, Athabaskans, Eskimos, and Navajo.2 Although it is also an unusual occurrence, acquired methemoglobinemia is much more frequently encountered than the congenital form.1
In a 10-year retrospective study looking at the incidence rate of topical anesthetic-induced methemoglobinemia, it was found that the overall prevalence was 0.035%. A major risk factor was hospitalization at the time of a procedure being performed. An increased risk was also seen with benzocaine-based anesthetics.3
At the end of this simulation case, participants should be able to: 1) recognize shortness of breath, cyanosis and respiratory distress, and the difference between all of them based on the clinical presentation 2) identify the underlying cause of the condition by conducting a thorough history and physical 3) know how to identify and treat methemoglobinemia by ordering necessary labs and interventions and understand the pathophysiology leading to methemoglobinemia 4) recognize patient’s response to treatment and continue to reassess.
This is a high-fidelity simulation case that allows participants to evaluate and treat methemoglobinemia in a safe environment. The case is followed by a debriefing and small group discussion to review patient care skills, medical knowledge, interpersonal communication, practice-based learning, and improvement.
The educational content and efficacy were evaluated by oral feedback and a debriefing session immediately after completion of the simulation. A 5-point Likert scale was sent out to participants pre-simulation and post-simulation. Questions on the survey included whether they felt confident in their ability to recognize methemoglobinemia, understood the physiology and causes of methemoglobinemia, and felt confident in their ability to treat methemoglobinemia.
Sixteen learners responded to the survey, consisting of EM residents and medical students. Post simulation, approximately 92% of EM residents answered agree or strongly agree in their ability to recognize and treat methemoglobinemia compared to pre-sim survey of about 62.5%. Post-simulation feedback also resulted in positive reception, and learners found it useful to run through an uncommonly seen case in the hospital. Results showed overall improvement in recognition and treatment of methemoglobinemia among residents and medical students.
This simulation improved recognition of methemoglobinemia including signs and symptoms associated with it. Proper management and treatment options were included such as administration of methylene blue. Overall, this simulation was helpful in teaching EM residents how to recognize, manage, and treat methemoglobinemia. In addition, post-simulation debriefing allowed further discussion among residents, which they found valuable.
Methemoglobinemia, shortness of breath, cyanosis, respiratory distress, anemia, methemoglobin, oxygen dissociation curve, emergency medicine simulation.