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April 2017 Critical Care Case of the Month

Robert A. Raschke, MD

Banner University Medical Center-Phoenix

Phoenix, AZ USA


History of Present Illness

A 20-year-old woman was transferred from another medical center for care. She was pregnant and initially presented with a one day history of crampy abdominal pain with nausea and vomiting after eating old, bad tasting chicken two days previously. She had pain of her right arm and a non-displaced humeral fracture was seen on x-ray. The etiology of the fracture was unclear. Her illness rapidly progressed to respiratory distress requiring intubation. The fetus had deceleration of heart tones leading to a cesarean section and delivery of a non-viable infant. Subsequently, she had rapid progression of shock and anuria.

Past Medical History

She had a previous history of a seizure disorder which was managed with levetiracetam, clonazepam, and folic acid. There was a previous intentional opiate overdose 2 years earlier. One month prior to admission she had visited her husband in Iraq. After returning to the US 3 weeks prior to admission, she developed a sore throat and was treated with penicillin. She smokes tobacco hookah and marijuana. There is a positive family history of gout.

Physical Examination

  • Vital signs: heart rate 109, blood pressure 102/78 mm Hg while on norepinephrine, respiratory rate 22, temperature 36.5º C.
  • General: She was sedated and intubated. She had a splint on her right arm.
  • Lungs: clear anteriorly
  • Heart: regular rhythm without murmur
  • Abdomen: firm without palpable organomegaly or masses.
  • Neurological examination: There was movement of all extremities. Muscle tone was normal. Deep tendon reflexes were normal. Plantar reflexes were down going.
  • Skin: diffuse erythematous macular popular rash on the trunk and back (Figure 1).

Figure 1. Photograph of patient’s back showing rash.

Initial Laboratory Evaluation

  • CBC: hemoglobin 14.5 gm/dL, platelet count 299,000 cells/mcL, WBC 41,000 cells/mcL, vacuolated polymorphonuclear leukocytes were noted
  • Electrolytes: Na+ 135 mmol/L, K+ 4.9 mmol/L, Cl- 95 mmol/L, HCO3- 18 mmol/L
  • Renal function: creatinine 3.9 mg/dL, blood urea nitrogen (BUN) 59 mg/dL
  • Liver enzymes: AST 294 (normal 8-48 U/L), ALT 303 (normal 7-55 U/L), ALP 187 (normal 45-115 U/L).       
  • Glucose: 58

Which of the following should be done immediately? (Click on the correct answer to proceed to the second of five pages)

  1. Bedside echocardiography
  2. Liver biopsy
  3. Urine drug screen
  4. 1 and 3
  5. All of the above

Cite as: Raschke RA. April 2017 critical care case of the month. Southwest J Pulm Crit Care. 2017;14(4):134-40. doi: PDF

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