Respiratory Failure Hot Case


Respiratory failure in general

  • Brain
  • Cough
  • Nerves
  • NMJ
  • Respiratory Muscles
  • Pleura
  • Airways (large and small)
  • Parenchymal
  • Chest wall
  • Ventilator asynchrony
  • Cardiac failure
  • Abdominal distension/failure

Respiratory Failure in the Haematology/Oncology patient

  • determine phase of illness (new diagnosis, post chemo, post BMT – acute, early, late)
  • determine level of immunosuppression (neutropaenia, pancytopaenia)

Causes in the Haematology/Oncology patient

  • infection
    – bacterial: multiple causes
    – viral: CMV, HSV, VSV
    – fungal: PJP, aspergillus, candida
    – protozoa: toxoplasmosis
  • engraftment
  • BOOP
  • diffuse alveolar haemorrhage
  • idiopathic pulmonary syndrome
  • cardiac failure



  • inhalers
  • ventilators
  • sputum
  • isolation (MDRO)


  • bronchodilators
  • antibiotics (MDRO)
  • heavy sedation + paralysis
  • IVIG (GB, MG, vasculitis)


  • type of ventilation (NIV, invasive, spontaneous breaths, controlled, oscillation, ECMO)
  • assess ventilation strategy (ARDS, bronchospasm, selective ventilation)
  • level of support
  • level of oxygenation
  • disease specific questions (ARDS: plateau pressure, bronchospasm: dynamic hyperinflation, intrinsic PEEP)


  • temperature
  • ETCO2 (waveform, value, remember to compare to PaCO2 for dead space assessment)
  • CVP (number, waveform)
  • arterial trace (pressure, swing, pulsus paradoxus)


  • intercostals drains (number, bubbling, drainage)
  • PAC (ask for recent numbers)
  • PICCO (ask for recent numbers)
  • iNO
  • inhaled prostacyclin
  • IABP


  • hands/arms -> head -> chest -> abdo -> legs/feet -> back

-> cardiovascular
-> respiratory
-> abdominal (distension)


-> paralysed
-> quick examination
-> unconscious
-> conscious



  • ABG


  • microbiology: sputum, blood cultures


  • CT chest


  • = “Multi-factorial” and list headings of causes -> clinical signs associated with list

CCC 700 6

Critical Care


Chris is an Intensivist and ECMO specialist at the Alfred ICU in Melbourne. He is also a Clinical Adjunct Associate Professor at Monash University. He is a co-founder of the Australia and New Zealand Clinician Educator Network (ANZCEN) and is the Lead for the ANZCEN Clinician Educator Incubator programme. He is on the Board of Directors for the Intensive Care Foundation and is a First Part Examiner for the College of Intensive Care Medicine. He is an internationally recognised Clinician Educator with a passion for helping clinicians learn and for improving the clinical performance of individuals and collectives.

After finishing his medical degree at the University of Auckland, he continued post-graduate training in New Zealand as well as Australia’s Northern Territory, Perth and Melbourne. He has completed fellowship training in both intensive care medicine and emergency medicine, as well as post-graduate training in biochemistry, clinical toxicology, clinical epidemiology, and health professional education.

He is actively involved in in using translational simulation to improve patient care and the design of processes and systems at Alfred Health. He coordinates the Alfred ICU’s education and simulation programmes and runs the unit’s education website, INTENSIVE.  He created the ‘Critically Ill Airway’ course and teaches on numerous courses around the world. He is one of the founders of the FOAM movement (Free Open-Access Medical education) and is co-creator of litfl.com, the RAGE podcast, the Resuscitology course, and the SMACC conference.

His one great achievement is being the father of three amazing children.

On Twitter, he is @precordialthump.

| INTENSIVE | RAGE | Resuscitology | SMACC

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