FOAMed

How Do You "FOAM," Anyway?

Last fall, I had the honor and opportunity of delivering a lecture about FOAMed to my fellow residents and faculty during our Tuesday didactic conferences. During this lecture, I had about 40 minutes to try my best to give a broad overview of what FOAMed is, how it’s impacting our specialty, and how to incorporate it into one’s practice.

The lecture can be viewed on Vimeo here..

Today, I want to focus on a specific part of the lecture: “How do you ‘FOAM,’ anyway?” For those following along at home, it starts about 15 minutes in, and lasts for about 15 minutes.

In my experience – and I think this sentiment is shared by others – one of the major hurdles faced by those looking to jump in to the FOAMed world is information overload. The sheer number of blogs and podcasts has exploded in recent years and has reached the point of being overwhelming, as seen in this figure from a paper by Mike Cadogan and Brent Thoma chronicling the rise of the FOAM:

From Emerg Med J. 2014 Oct;31(e1):e76-7

For FOAMed to be used as a learning tool, especially for the EM physician in training, I think two important points must be kept in mind. First, learning can only occur in an environment in which there is a positive cognitive margin. Basically, when you have the time, energy, and focus to be able to sit down and really dive into something, retention is maximized. If the environment is not conducive to cognitive functioning – from fatigue, distraction, intoxication, what-have-you – true active learning from a FOAMed resource is going to be very difficult.

Second, while we are in general andragogical learners who want to seek out the information we want and need rather than having it all spoon-fed to us, it is exceptionally inefficient and difficult to wade out into the FOAM world and attempt to “pull in” everything of interest to you. Much more efficient and comprehensive to have everything that’s new “pushed” to you, for your perusal at a time in which you have a positive cognitive margin.

And this is where Chris Nickson’s chosen vernacular comes in. Replace “information overload” with “filter failure” in your lexicon. Particularly when you’re first starting out, you don’t want every new item posted from every FOAMed world pushed to your brain all at once. You need a way to improve the signal-to-noise ratio, to pare down the breadth of content to those things that are highest-yield to you.

Having gone through the painful process of trying to “pull” FOAMed information to me, and then subsequently being drowned in knowledge from filter failure after learning how to “push” information, I’d like to do what I can today to help my fellow EM learners ease their transition to “push” information and filtering.

How To Do It:

1. Familiarize yourself with RSS feeds. This is basically a piece of computer code that indexes all of the posts of a particular blog. They’re usually signified with the following icon:

In and of themselves, they’re useless. If you happened to click on one, your screen would be filled with incomprehensible programming code. BUT, if only there were a piece of software that knew what to do with them…

2. Learn how to use an RSS feed aggregator. This is a program into which you can upload RSS feeds for whatever blogs you want to follow, and then those posts from all of those blogs will be listed out for you in a chronological digest format. I prefer Feedly, which you can download here. It integrates into PC & Mac browsers, and I believe there are both Apple & Android apps for mobile devices. Adding blogs to Feedly is pretty simple; I go over it in the video, right at the 19-minute mark.

3. But how do I know which blogs to add? How do I know where to start? Well, this is what I’m going to try to help you with. There is actually another way to add blogs to your Feedly feed, and you can do it en masse. This is via an OPML file, which is just a file cataloging the RSS feeds from whichever blogs you want. Upload the OPML file to Feedly, and *BOOM* all of those blogs are instantly added. Here’s a couple screencaps showing you how to do this in Feedly.

Clicking your e-mail address in the bottom left corner will take you to the "Organize" screen.

Select the appropriate OPML file for import.

Can you feel the power?

There are a variety of options to view and organize posts from your chosen FOAMed resources.

I have created a set of OPML files to help you get started. The file names should be relatively self-explanatory. “Getting Started” includes just a few of the most popular and highest quality resources out there for those just dipping their toes in the FOAMed kiddie pool. “The Basics” adds a few more resources, and it goes up from there. The “Advanced Practice” file includes every blog on my Feedly, which is every active EM-relevant blog I know about. I’m sure I've missed a few, but it should be the lion’s share of what’s out there. You can download these at will and upload them to your Feedly.

I. Getting Started

II. The Basics

III. Intermediate Level

IV. Advanced Practice

If you load “Getting Started” but later want to see more, you can upload one of the other files. Only the new additions will be added to your feed; it won’t duplicate what you already have. Pretty neat.

5. Go get FOAMy! Remember: there’s no “right” or “wrong” way to do this. I still struggle with filter failure. Just remind yourself there’s no possible way to read everything. Find the things that look interesting to you, and bookmark those to read in detail later. Don’t be afraid to let some other things pass you by – if you stay active in the FOAMed Twitter world and keep up with high-quality FOAMed digests like those from Life in the Fast Lane and EM Curious, you’ll catch the most-important, highest-quality stuff. Hopefully the organization of the OPML files will help those of you just getting started, or those of you struggling with “push” information gathering and filter failure.

I’m always open to comments and questions! Feel free to comment here on the blog, or catch me on Twitter: @CSamSmithMD.

Never stop learning,

C. Sam Smith

@WUSTL_EM FOAMed Digest #7: Best of the Best of the Best Sir! ...With Honors

To build on my “Intro to FOAMed” lecture from Tuesday, I thought I would use the Digest this week to highlight some of the highest-quality resources out there for those of you just dipping your toes into the FOAMy goodness. You can’t go wrong adding these to your Feedly. Well-referenced, expert review, open discussion with prompt response – they’re really setting the bar for the FOAMed world.

And don’t worry – in the spirit of FOAMed the lecture and slides will be posted as soon as the video editing is done.

Now come on in, the water’s fine!

Three Stars:

1. Academic Life in EM (ALiEM) continues to be one of the paragons of the FOAMed community. Check out this “Diagnose on Sight” case from this week – don’t want to give it away, but you will see it time and time again during your Children’s shifts. Make note of the reference list and pre-publication review from a practicing clinician. Supremely high quality.

2. I must credit my inspiration for this FOAMed Digest – the LITFL Review from Life in the Fast Lane. Curated by some of the sharpest tacks around, it’s a great way to get familiar with the variety of resources out there. Lots of good stuff this time around, including links to Amal Mattu’s EKG video review of QT prolongation, the latest edition of FOAMCast (all about the spleen!), and the St. Emlyn’s view of the new NICE guidelines for managing acute heart failure.
EXTRA CREDIT: If you need help keeping up with the EM primary literature, the Research & Reviews in the Fastlane segment is a great place to start!

3. EM Lyceum takes the “flipped classroom” concept to the next level. Every month or so, they publish a series of clinical questions focused on a particular topic. This time, it was trauma. The point is to ponder those questions, discuss them in a group, and maybe even do your own research. The EM Lyceum group then publishes the best evidence-based answers they could find in an exceptionally well-referenced summary. Pearl from this month: Bust out the PCC for ICH on warfarin, but no good evidence for PCC in your “average” coagulopathic trauma patient.  





Oldie But Goodie:

This post isn’t actually that old, but it’s about older patients, so we’re gonna count it. On the heels of Dr. Galante’s lecture from last month, Ken Milne at the Skeptics’ Guide to Emergency Medicine takes on Chris Carpenter’s systematic review of ED tool to predict fall risk ingeriatric patients from this months Annals.
This is a can’t-miss episode, as it is the initial installment of the “Hot Off The Press” series. You can watch in real-time as the FOAMed and published-journal worlds start to merge. Each episode of this series will feature a critical analysis and interview with an author of a paper just published in Annals or CJEM. The audience (i.e., everyone) will have a chance to respond with their own post-publication peer review via social media outlets. The top responses will be featured in a future publication in each journal. Knowledge translation and crowdsourced feedback at the speed of social media!

F(FN)OAMed:

If you’re going to pick one podcast to listen to religiously, that podcast should probably be EM:RAP. This month, be sure to check out the segment on IV contrast myths.
Take-home points: Iodine is not an allergen. Seafood allergy does not increase risk of anaphylaxis to IV contrast any more than any other given allergy, although previous reaction to IV contrast or past history of atopy does increase risk. And most notably – premedication with steroids has not been shown to decrease the number of severe reactions.

The Gunner Files:

1. Check out Scott Weingart’s interview with Dr. John Hinds regarding his approach to the patient with blunt traumatic arrest.
In Dr. Hinds’ shop, before they do anything else they: 1) intubate, 2) perform bilateral finger thoracostamies, 3) place a pelvic binder, 4) reduce any gross long-bone deformities, 5) start uncrossmatched transfusion. Only then do they start a formalized assessment. Really interesting stuff.

2. Similar to the R&R from the Fastlane mentioned above, Ryan Radecki’s EM Lit of Note blog is another excellent version of a curated primary literature review. Here is his critical appraisal summary of a systematic review and meta-analysis comparing trauma “pan scan” with more selective imaging.

3. The most recent installment of the EM BASIC podcast is your panic-free look at what we know about Ebola – screening, clinical signs & symptoms, diagnosis, isolation, and treatment.

4. The ultimate skeptic, Rory Spiegel of EM Nerd, turns his nihilistic eye towards the cash cow of cardiac interventionalists everywhere – PCI. Turns out, there’s not a lot of evidence to support its use outside the realm of emergent intervention for STEMI.

5. In the most recent podcast on Emergency Medicine Cases, an EM sports medicine specialist and an orthopedic surgeon help you to avoid falling prey to the “Commonly Missed (Uncommon) Orthopedic Injuries.” Want to know how not to miss a DRUJ? Lisfranc? Perilunate? Tune in.


Never stop learning,


C. Sam Smith, PGY-3

#FOAMed Digest No.5: But This One Goes to 11

Time once again for your mid-week blast of FOAMy goodness from around the interwebs. There’s no particular subject today; instead we’re going to highlight some of the better podcasts/vodcasts that updated this week. Podcasts are great. They break up the monotony of reading (and the monotony of mundane things like laundry, grocery shopping, training for this damn marathon…). For the more distractible among us, they usually come in easily-digestible 20-30 minute morsels. They expose you to different presentation styles, and allow you to match a face and a voice with the big names in FOAMed. Most of them also feature written show notes with references as well, which allows you both to reinforce the things you learned while listening, and also to dig deeper into topics you’re interested in.

Fun for the whole family!

Three Stars:

1. I think FOAMcast, authored by residents and EM social media savants Jeremy Faust and Lauren Westafer, might be the first example of “metaFOAM.” They peruse the FOAM world for interesting recent posts, then integrate that information with relevant material from the most popular EM textbooks (i.e., “Rosenalli”), other relevant blogs/podcasts, primary literature, and even Rosh Review questions. This week they use a post from ALiEM on calcium channel blockers vs beta blockers for A-Fib as a jumping-off point for a discussion on ED management of A-Fib and A-Flutter. There’s links to vodcasts from Scott Weingart and Amal Mattu on narrow-complex tachydysrhythmias, and plenty of cited references from the primary literature (including one from our own Brian Cohn!). It’s good stuff.

2. Speaking of the Godfather of ED EKG, Dr. Mattu has two quick cases for you to ponder. Remember: T-wave inversion does not always mean cardiac ischemia!
Remember: Gotta think tox in a seemingly unprovoked wide complex tachycardia!

3. Steve Carroll at EM Basic provides an excellent analysis of the ED management of asymptomatic hypertension, including references to the relevant ACEP Clinical Policy document and other FOAMed resources.


Oldie But Goodie:

Chris Nickson, creator and administrator of Life in the Fast Lane, gave an excellent talk at the original SMACC conference in March 2013 with the confidence-inspiring title, “All Doctors are Jackasses.” Why are we jackasses? Because we don’t do enough to understand how we think and how we make decisions, and this leads us to make errors. Watch Nickson’s lecture and begin to understand how to remedy this situation.
(EXTRA CREDIT: Links in the show notes to the other SMACC talks in the “Mind of the Resuscitationist” plenary by Weingart, Cliff Reid, and Simon Carley.)

F(FN)OAMed:

By this point you guys all know how awesome EM:RAP is, but this week is particularly relevant because Herbert & Co. just released an “EM:RAP Mini” segment about the newly-published “Ultrasonography versus Computed Tomography for Suspected Nephrolithiasis” trial in the New England Journal. For those of you that aren’t familiar, this was a study in which we participated, and our own Drs. Aubin and Griffey are authors on the paper! An excellent summary of this paper is found on the Emergency Medicine Ireland blog, with a link to download the EM:RAP Mini segment in the show notes.

The Gunner Files:

1. Time to synthesize the knowledge you gained about non-surgical management of pediatric appendicitis at Journal Club last month. Dr. Cohn is back with another excellent EMJClub podcast along with Drs. Trehan and Horst, summarizing the primary literature.

2. EMin5 is back at it with a review of the four types of shock, in a little over four minutes.

3. From the Maryland Critical Care Project, an excellent lecture from Neuro Critical Care and ED intensivist Dr. Wendy Chang describing the ED management of status epilepticus. She covers the gamut from first-line benzos to second-line AEDs and third-line agents for initiation of therapeutic coma.

4. The good people at the All NYC EM blog posted a lecture given during their conference day by the FOAMed superstar Dr. Haney Mallemat. He covers all the basics of ultrasound evaluation of pericardial effusion and tamponade, even ultrasound-guided pericardiocentesis.

5. In case you’re not familiar, US Air Force Pararescuemen, a.k.a. “PJs,” are the ultimate badasses. Just look at it this way: think becoming a SEAL is tough? PJ training has an even higher failure rate. But I digress.
Former PJ and critical care flight retrieval medic Mike Lauria is now in medical school, and is making a bit of a splash in the FOAMed community as an expert on training, thinking, and operating in high-stress environments. Scott Weingart recently interviewed him on EMCrit about the concept of “mental toughness,” how that translates from the combat realm to the ED, and how to incorporate it into physician training. Really interesting stuff.


That Others May Live,

Sam Smith, PGY-3

#FOAMed Digest No. 3: You Need Me On That Wall

Emergency Medicine physicians practice in a unique environment. We must synthesize plans for  diagnosis, management, and disposition while utilizing input from almost every subspecialty, and the ED is the ultimate proving ground for diagnostic tests and treatment modalities of every sort. Unsurprisingly, a fair deal of controversy and debate exists regarding the optimum management of patients. (For reference, see any Trauma Case Conference featuring Drs. Schuerer and Aubin.) The “best evidence” is often poor evidence. We in Emergency Medicine retain the rebellious spirit of our founders, and are always looking for new and innovative techniques. Some physicians are too quick to jump on the bandwagon, and others lag behind the curve when it comes to adopting new practices.

The selections this time around are not meant to tell you the best way to do things. The algorithms and practice patterns suggested are not universally adopted, written in textbooks, or taught as part of any standard curriculum. They are meant to promote thought, to prompt you to read the primary literature for yourself, to encourage you to seek the opinions of other experts on the subject, and to form your own conclusions. Hopefully they will inspire you to suggest new ideas to your seniors and attendings during your next shift – or even question ideas you think are unsound. Maybe, just maybe, they will even inspire a new research or QI project. FOAMed is by design perfectly adapted to assist you in this quest.

Ramblers, let’s get ramblin’.

Three Stars:

1. Ken Milne at the Skeptic’s Guide to Emergency Medicine pretty much sets the bar when it comes to FOAMed of the latest EBM topics. He asks his clinical questions in the PICO format, he applies a rigorous quality checklist when analyzing the available literature, and includes in his discussion other FOAMed experts (including on occasion our very own Chris R. Carpenter, a.k.a. “Captain Cranium”). This episode he turns his skeptical eye to a topic sure to generate heated discussions for years to come: tPA for stroke.

2. If there’s anyone that looms larger in the ED Critical Care world than Weingart, it’s Resuscitationist Extraordinaire Cliff Reid. His lecture from the SMACC Gold conference hit resuscitation dogma like an A-bomb, leaving irradiated bits of unfounded practice patterns strewn about the Outback countryside.
(EXTRA CREDIT: Reid’s talk from the original SMACC conference, “Making Things Happen,” should be required viewing for anyone wanting to be a Trauma Senior someday.)

3. If pediatric surgeons have come to accept ultrasound as a stand-alone diagnostic method for appendicitis, maybe there’s hope that someday ultrasound can also be used as a radiation-sparing technique for diagnosis of small bowel obstruction. Academic Life in EM has an excellent run-down of the technique and comparative research studies.
(EXTRA CREDIT: The book Evidence-Based Emergency Care, authored in part by our own Captain Cranium Chris R. Carpenter, has a chapter dedicated to the inferiority of plain films for SBO diagnosis. You can read it for free online via Becker Library.)

Oldie But Goodie:

I think here in a few more years this will reach “accepted standard practice” level, and maybe even “textbook” level, but it’s not there yet. It should be: there’s good evidence to show kayexelate doesn’t work, and may even cause harm. Let Weingart and the PaperChase fellows from EM:RAP give you the ammunition you need to stand up to any pesky floor seniors.

F(FN)OAMed:

In a very enlightening segment from this month’s EM:RAP, Rob Orman interviews a community ED practitioner, Dr. Cameron Berg, regarding his hospital’s new Accelerated Diagnostic Protocol for low-risk chest pain. While his exact algorithm hasn’t been externally validated and probably isn’t ready for prime-time at our shop, the evidence-based and pragmatic approach is certainly worth considering. And he provides links to almost all of his references in the show notes!

The Gunner Files:

1. The “Research & Reviews” segment on Life in the Fast Lane is worth checking out every week. A group of some of the brightest minds in the FOAMed world get together and spoon-feed us summaries some of the most relevant, practice-changing, or downright strangest papers in the EM literature.

2. Josh Farkas over at PulmCrit wrote an excellent piece laying out his argument for super-high-flow NC (think 30-45L!) as an acceptable method of preoxygenation before RSI. It’s also got a good rundown of apneic oxygenation using NC (which we all should be doing every time), and an enlightening counterpoint from the grand maester of ED Critical Care, Scott Weingart.

3. Pediatric EM expert Sean Fox provides an excellent summary of the neonatal ALTE on his blog Pediatric EM Morsels.

4. Two EM airway heavyweights, Rich Levitan and Reuben Strayer, slug it out in the ultimate Direct Laryngoscopy vs Video Laryngoscopy debate, posted to the Prehospital and Retrieval Medicine podcast hosted by Minh Le Cong.

5. All of us will be the bearer of the -07 phone at some point, and that means you better have your act together when discussing decision-making capacity. Bill Johnston, EMT-P and author of the excellent blog Prehospital Wisdom, shares his fundamentally sound and no-bullshit method for determining capacity in the field.

In the words of Ken Milne: “Meet ‘em, greet ‘em, treat ‘em, and street ‘em!”

Sam Smith, PGY-3