Jeff: Welcome back to EMplify, the podcast corollary to EB Medicine’s Emergency Medicine Practice. I’m Jeff Nusbaum, and I’m back with my co-host, Nachi Gupta. This month, we’re moving from the trauma bay back to a more private setting, to discuss Emergency Department Diagnosis and Treatment of Sexually Transmitted Diseases. (https://www.ebmedicine.net/topics.php?paction=showTopic&topic_id=599)
Nachi: And for those of you who follow along with the print issue and might be reading in a public place, this issue has a few images that might not be ideal for wandering eyes.
Jeff: I’d say we need a “not safe for work” label on this episode, though I think we are one of the unique workplaces where this is actually quite safe.
Nachi: And we’re obviously pushing for “safe” practices this month. The article was authored by Dr. Pfenning-Bass and Dr. Bridges from the University of South Carolina School of medicine. It was edited by Dr. Borhart of Georgetown University and Dr. Castellone of Eastern Connecticut Health Network.
Jeff: Thanks, team for this deep dive.
Nachi: STDs or STIs are incredibly common and often under recognized by both the public and health care providers.
Jeff: In addition, the rates of STDs in the US continue to rise, partly due to the fact that many patients have minimal to no symptoms, leading to unknowing rapid spread and an estimated 20 million new STDs diagnosed each year. Treating these 20 million cases amounts to a whopping $16 billion dollars worth of care annually.
Nachi: 20 million! Kinda scary if you step back and think about it.
Jeff: Definitely, perhaps even more scary, undiagnosed and untreated STDs can lead to infertility, ectopic pregnancies, spontaneous abortions, chronic pelvic pain and chronic infections. On top of this, there is also growing antibiotic resistance, making treatment more difficult.
Nachi: All the more reason we need evidence based guidelines, which our team from South Carolina has nicely laid out after reviewing 107 references dating back to 1990, as well as guidelines from the CDC and the national guideline clearinghouse.
Jeff: Alright, so let’s start with some basics: pathophysiology, prehospital care, and the H&P. STDs are caused by bacteria, viruses, or parasites that are transmitted vaginally, anally, or orally during sexual contact, or passed from a mother to her baby during delivery and breastfeeding.
Nachi: In terms of prehospital care, first, make sure you are practicing proper precautions and don appropriate personal protective equipment to eliminate or reduce the chance of bloodborne and infectious disease exposure. In those with concern for possible sexual assault, consider transport to facilities capable of performing these sensitive exams.
Jeff: As in many of the prehospital sections we have covered -- a destination consult could be very appropriate here if you’re unsure of the assault capabilities at your closest ER.
Nachi: And in such circumstances, though patient care comes first, make sure to balance medical stabilization with the need to protect evidence.
Jeff: Exactly. Moving on to the ED… The history and physical should be conducted in a private setting. For the exam, have a chaperone present, whose name you can document. The “5 Ps” are a helpful starting point for your history: partners, practices, prevention of pregnancy, protection from STDs, and past STDs.
Nachi: 5 p’s, I actually haven’t heard this mnemonic before, but I like it and will certainly incorporate it into my practice. Again,