The treatment of shock should focus on correcting the underlying pathophysiology. With persistent hemodynamic instability, a vasopressor and/or inotrope should be selected. Reviewing receptor physiology can help you select the best-fit agent for the patient’s clinical condition. There is an especially useful table on medication selection in the reviewed 2008 EM Clinics of North America article.
This installment of the Paucis Verbis (In a Few Words) e-card series reviews Vasopressors and Inotropes for the Treatment of Shock.
PV Card: Vasopressors and Inotropes in Shock
Adapted from 
Go to ALiEM (PV) Cards for more resources.
Edit 3/28/14: Dopamine removed as second-tier agent for septic shock (mainly reserved for rare cases of inappropriate bradycardia at low risk for arrhythmias)
- Ellender T, Skinner J. The use of vasopressors and inotropes in the emergency medical treatment of shock. Emerg Med Clin North Am. 2008;26(3):759-86, ix. [PubMed]
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