Timelines in the management of adrenal crisis - targets, limits and reality

Stefanie Hahner, Nina Hemmelmann, Marcus Quinkler, Felix Beuschlein, Christina Spinnler, Bruno Allolio
Clinical Endocrinology 2015, 82 (4): 497-502

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate current management timelines in adrenal crisis (AC) and to establish time targets and time limits for emergency treatment.

DESIGN/PATIENTS: Patients from a prospective study who had reported an AC (n = 46) were contacted and asked about management of their AC. A survey among 24 European endocrinologists collected expert recommendations concerning time targets and time limits for contact-arrival time of emergency health professionals and presentation of emergency card-glucocorticoid (GC) injection time.

RESULTS: Median time targets and time limits regarded by experts as adequate for contact-arrival time were 45 and 90 min, respectively, and for card-injection time 15 and 30 min, respectively. Thirty-seven of 46 patients could be interviewed. All patients were equipped with an emergency card but only 23 (62%) with an emergency kit. Seven patients (19%) were trained in GC self-injection. The median time interval between contacting a health professional and arrival was 20 min (range 2-2880 min); ≤45 min: n = 32 (86%), <90 min: n = 34 (92%). The median time interval between arrival and administration of GC was 30 min (range 2-2400 min); ≤15 min: n = 17 (46%), ≤30 min: n = 20 (54%).

CONCLUSION: While the time between contacting health professionals and their arrival was within the limits set by experts, initiation of GC administration was delayed in 46% of patients. Thus, improved management of AC needs to focus on shortening the presentation of card-injection time. Given the current reality in the management of AC, promotion of self-injection of GC (s.c. or i.m.) is warranted.

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