Prehospital Diagnosis of Shortness of Breath Caused by Profound Metformin-Associated Metabolic Acidosis

Pietro Elias Fubini, Laurent Suppan
Healthcare (Basel, Switzerland) 2021 January 14, 9 (1)
33466796
Shortness of breath is a common complaint among patients in emergency medicine. While most common causes are usually promptly identified, less frequent aetiologies might be challenging to diagnose, especially in the pre-hospital setting. We report a case of prehospital dyspnoea initially ascribed to pulmonary oedema which turned out to be the result of profound metformin-associated metabolic acidosis. This diagnosis was already made during the prehospital phase by virtue of arterial blood gas measurement. Pre-hospital measurement of arterial blood gases is therefore feasible and can improve diagnostic accuracy in the field, thus avoiding unnecessary delay and potential harm to the patient before initiating the appropriate therapeutic actions.

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