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December 2015 Critical Care Case of the Month

Samir Sultan, DO 

Banner University Medical Center Phoenix

Phoenix, AZ 

History of Present Illness

The patient is a 32-year-old woman who presented with flank pain for 3 days to an outside hospital. She was diagnosed with pyelonephritis and begun on ceftriaxone. She was discharged against medical advice on cephalexin.

She returned to the same hospital 3 days later by ambulance with labored breathing and weakness and was emergently intubated. She was transferred for ventilator management and respiratory failure.

Past Medical History

She has a long history of poorly controlled diabetes mellitus.

Physical Examination

She is orally intubated and sedated.

Vitals: Temperature - 100.9º F, Blood Pressure - 117/75 mm Hg, Heart Rate - 148 beats per minute,  Respiratory Rate - 31 breaths/min, SpO2 - 88 % on assist control of 30, tidal volume of 350 mL, PEEP 15, and an FiO2 100%.

There is scatted rhonchi and rales but the remainder of the physical examination is unremarkable.


Her admission portable chest X-ray is shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1. Admission portable AP of the chest.

Which of the following should be ordered as part of her initial work-up? (Click on the correct answer to proceed to the second of five panels).

  1. Administer broad spectrum antibiotics
  2. Blood and urine cultures
  3. Rapid influenza test
  4. 1 and 3
  5. All of the above

Cite as: Sultan S. December critical care case of the month. Southwest J Pulm Crit Care. 2015;11(6):246-51. doi: PDF

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