When emergency physicians first hear about regional nerve blocks, they may think of them as something mysterious.
“They think of it as something only anesthesiologists will do,” said Michael Blaivas, MD, FACEP, an emergency
physician in Alpharetta, Georgia. “People are shocked by the relevance to their practice and how much it can improve their practice.”
Dr. Blaivas will lead the session “Blocks Unblinded: Ultrasound-Guided Regional Anesthesia.”
Although conscious sedation is more the norm, especially at EDs in community hospitals, that approach can eat up a good deal of time and resources, Dr. Blaivas said. “It impacts the way the entire department flows and an entire care area.”
In contrast, although a regional block requires proper technique and the usual precautions, “it doesn’t have the heavy burden of nurse monitoring and is actually much safer for the patient,” he said.
Regional blocks are used most commonly in the ED for shoulder dislocations, wrist fracture reduction, ankle fracture reduction, and pain control for hip fractures, Dr. Blaivas said. “It gives people control over their pain so we can accomplish procedures, and it controls a patient’s pain from burn or injury without conscious sedation or strong
narcotics,” he said.
He sees regional blocks used more often at academic medical centers, although he believes community hospitals would benefit from their increased use even more than academic facilities.
Dr. Blaivas said that attendees at his session will likely be curious to know about the technique used for regional blocks, whether there are any common complications, and what kind of patients would benefit the most from regional bocks. They will also likely want details on the equipment used and how to get the capacity for regional blocks set up at
their organization, Dr. Blaivas said.
“Blocks Unblinded: Ultrasound-Guided Regional Anesthesia” is a prerequisite for the “Ultrasound-Guided Regional Anesthesia Lab,” which will give attendees hands-on practice with regional blocks, Dr. Blaivas noted.
Vanessa Caceres is a freelance medical writer based in Florida.