USMLE Step 3 CCS case Discussions – Highyield

Based on customer feedback and expert opinions, some cases are felt to be extremely high-yield and a large number of these important cases are discussed in Archer USMLE Step 3 CCS reviews

If you’re getting ready to take the USMLE Step 3, you must study and practice CCS prior to the exam.  provides live interactive reviews of CCS. Each workshop is taught in a webinar event, allowing students to review CCS from the comfort of their own homes and to watch and practice CCS cases under supervision in a virtual classroom. Students save both time and money on their CCS review.

Each live CCS workshop is designed to strengthen students’ approach to patient care. Students learns how to maximize the delivery of quality care in the 25 minute time allotted for each CCS simulation and how to follow through on critical CCS tasks.

The CCS workshop is set up as a combined lecture and hands-on learning environment. Every student gets to practice CCS and have his or her CCS methods analyzed by professionals.

A Typical CCS Workshop Session
  • CCS strategies
  • Recognizing unstable vitals
  • Live demonstration of CCS cases
  • Common CCS mistakes and how to prevent them
  • Tips for scoring high on CCS
  • Follow-ups of office and ER cases
  • Efficient use of time
  • Avoiding invasive tests
  • Basic set of orders for emergency cases
  • Adding / discontinuing orders that matter
  • Obtaining consults and their appropriateness
  • Differential diagnosis for common ER and office presentations
  • How to schedule follow-up tests
  • Live and interactive practice of several highyield USMLE Step 3 CCS cases

The first three to four hours of the CCS workshop includes a lecture on the USMLE Step 3 CCS strategies mentioned above. At the end of this lecture, several very important Step 3 CCS cases are practiced in an interactive format. As one of the student practices the CCS case under supervision, others get to watch the case practice on their own desktop and ask questions like in a live classroom. Students receive immediate feedback and guidance from the instructor. The instructor carefully monitors the students’ approach to a CCS case and corrects any inadequacies.


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Why is doing very well on CCS crucial for passing USMLE Step 3?

For full detailed analysis on our Step 3 Test Strategy research, please visit About-Us

Our unique teaching strategies have resulted in 99% pass rate for all those trainees with prior multiple attempts. After six successful years, as we analyzed our teaching strategy, we consistently found a significant improvement in the CCS portion of all our test taker’s score reports ( when compared to their previous reports). We then requested our trainees to forward their score reports and did a retrospective analysis which revealed:

– 75% had an excellent performance on the CCS with only a borderline level performance on the MCQs
– 25% did moderately well on CCS and also moderately well on MCQs
– those with very borderline to poor performance on the CCS have failed irrespective of their performance on the MCQs

For most students with multiple attempts, score performance bars did not change much anywhere except in the CCS section. Yet, all of them passed!! This was especially true for people who previously failed with 70th percentile scores and above. This may suggest that if you are below 70th percentile in your previous attempts, you may need to brush your MCQ concepts too. But if you failed with an above 70% score, you need to check your score report to see if there is a scope for improvement in your CCS performance. That is where you can get the best results with the least effort!

In fact, doing extremely well on CCS with only a borderline performance on MCQs is sufficient to pass Step3! And this is achievable and much easier than achieving an above average performance on the MCQs.

Let us consider few logical points here to prove this fact again.

1. We always insist our students take NBME simulation test before the real step3 exam to see where they stand on the MCQ portion of the test. NBME does not have a CCS portion. If you consider NBME score (compare Step2), an above 400 (three digit) correlates with passing performance on Step3. However, since NBME does not include CCS, we have had a wide range of NBME scores that correlated with a PASS on the USMLE step3. This could be anywhere between 300 to 500. One of our students had a 310 – 3 digit score on NBME,a week prior to his real test. Yet, he passed with a 77% – his score report showed an extreme rightward bar (excellent) on CCS. (His MCQ performance correlated with that on NBME)

2. Recognize that CCS constitutes only 25% where as MCQs 75% of Step3 – that is 9 CCS cases and 480 MCQs. However, realize that each CCS constitutes 3% of your total score. Most examinees cannot answer more than 60% MCQs correctly. If you lose one CCS you lose 3% of your total score. In that case you need compensate this by correctly answering at least 15 MCQs ( i.e; 480 x 3% =14 MCQs) – this translates in to, roughly 2MCQs extra on each block. If you lose 2 to 3 CCS, the passing chances are dismal ( losing 2 CCS or borderline performance on CCS will require you to answer extra 4 to 6 MCQs correctly on each block i.e; for an examinee who scored 60% on his practice tests like Usmleworld, losing 2 CCS cases translates in to a requirement of 70% performance on MCQs to pass this test) – this is where it gets extremely difficult. This is why most people fail despite studying the theory time and again. This is why most people who score around 70 to 75% on popular practice Q banks like Kaplan and UWorld may still fail the exam!!!

– Do not neglect CCS. Doing extremely well on CCS is achievable and rewarding. Extreme rightward performance on CCS on your score report has always led to passing scores. 
– Poor/ borderline performance on CCS requires excellent/ very good performance on MCQs in order to pass the test – this is very difficult to achieve!! 

With this in mind, we launched this interactive online CCS workshop ( launched : JUNE 2008) where we can reach several trainees all over the world at once and teach them this crucial CCS approach for passing Step3.  Today, Archer or Dr.Red CCS Workshop and Streaming lectures reach about 10,000 medical graduates each year and have established a proven track record in achieving very high success rates on this exam.


Disclaimer: The materials (i.e., test questions, clinical computer simulations, and standardized patient cases) of the USMLE, NBME’s self-assessment program and NBME subject examinations are copyrighted. Publishing any ‘remembered’ materials or replicas of these materials on Archer USMLE Blog (or any other forum) is an unauthorized reproduction of NBME’s materials, constitutes copyright infringement and is strictly prohibited. Any violation of NBME ‘s copyrights and trademarks can not only lead to legal sanctions, but can also have professional consequences. Medical students and medical school graduates, prospective students, examinees of the USMLE, NBME Self Assessment examinations and subject examinations are reminded that they are bound to the terms they agreed to follow regarding disclosure of intellectual property prior to the administration of one of these examinations. Failure to adhere to the terms of these policies will subject an individual to various penalties.

Notice: Archer USMLE Blog is a place to discuss all your queries related to USMLE Step 3 exam and Clinical Case Simulations in general. This is not a place to post copyrighted materials and such posts are prohibited.

58 Responses

  1. Solving Case 94
    ALL in a 5 yr old boy
    this was a 5 yr. old boy who came with weakness, disinterest in activity and lesion on leg. On examination, the lesion was ecchymosis and there was generalized lymphadenopathy with liver enlargement. ( CBC, BMP, LFTs, LDH — > revealed CBC : anemia, thrombocytopenia, neutropenia, lymphocytosis with 95% lymphocytes on DC, peripheral smear shows blasts ( schistocytes if there is concomitant DIC), LDH elevated in leukemias/ lymphomas, hepatosplenomegaly on ultrasound, CXR : many enlarged lymph nodes, then now need to do bone marrow biopsy ( diagnostic step) and this reveals many lymphoblasts, Admit and call ped/onc, ct chest and abdomen ( shows wide spread lymphadenopathy), bone scan, karyotype- counsel: cancer diagnosis. Check PT/PTT, FDPs and Fibrinogen to r/o DIC as 10% ALL patients may have DIC. If there is fever at presentation, make sure to get pan cultures. Make sure to order “neutropenia precautions” if there is absolute neutropenia ( ANC < 500)

  2. Solving Case 92
    20 month old boy/ Iron Deficiency Anemia
    20 month old african american boy brought for fatigue and lethargy to office (initial orders – CBC reveals anemia, MICROCYTIC TYPE – do iron studies ( serum iron, ferritin and TIBC), blood lead levels, reticulocyte count, LFTs, haptoglobin, sickle screen and LDH – ferritin low. No evidence of hemolysis ( r/o sickle cell at this time), do stool guaic ( rectal exam in the beginning itself r/o blood loss as a cause of fe def ) –> Fe defeciency diagnosed which is most common in children during growth spurts if nutrition is not adequate ( remember you already ruled out other causes of Fe deficiency i.e; lead poisoning, GI blood loss, ongoing hemolysis) . Order iron rich diet ( very important to order this diet since lack of balanced diet is the reason for Fe def in children during growth spurts) , iron oral pills ( FERROUS SULFATE)- check cbc in 1 month/ schedule follow up visit – usually blood counts return to normal in 2 months –> so, schedule follow up CBC and Ferritin level for “LATER” date i.e; 2 months later on 5 minute screen ( continue ferrous sulfate for at least 6 months even when blood count normalized)

  3. Solving Case 91.
    Dehydration/ Hypernatremia in an Elderly man
    70 y/o man with altered mental status, no urine output sent from NH to ER . No fever. ( BMP comes back shows NA + 160, BUN high, Crea normal) –> two things here , this patient has confusion which could be secondary to dehydration or hypernatremia. If euvolemic hypernatremia with CNS symptoms –> you would use D5W IV , However, in this case there is a clue that the urine output is low –> indicating hypovolemic hypernatremia –> so, would hydrate first with NS , NG tube, free water orally, R/o sepsis ( if cbc showed leucocytosis or if there is fever – please be sure to r/o sepsis , get cxr, blood cx, urinalysis and urine cx, if any source of infection seen start emperical antibiotics pending cultures), get head CT, foley catheter ( r/o obstructive uropathy since there is no urine output), and next put orders to monitor pts response to your therapy ( I/O monitoring, neurochecks q4hrs and BMP q4hrs – check if Na and BUN are improving, dont drop Na too fast due to risk of cerebral edema)

  4. Dear sir,
    How are you? I enjoyed your CCS session last sunday. I have one queston for you.I was doing CCS cases in USMLEWORLD software.

    In one case pt came with HTN of 230/140,severe headache,nausea,vominting. I gave him

    Nitroprusside IV one bolus
    metoprolol IV continuous
    phenergan iv one time
    Morphine Iv one time.

    In the expanation USMLE world gave for this case,
    they managed with Nitroprusside alone.(Arerial Line).no other medications. In USmle world explantion, they gave Nitroprusside via arterial line after getting head ct,ecg,bmp results.

    Head CT negative for Hemorrhage
    Ecg showed LVH
    BMP–mild elevated BUN and Creatinine
    UA—-mild proteinuria.

    After getting the above results adminitered Iv nitroprusside continuously .

    Here my question is
    Can we address their Head ache,nausea,vomiting?

    Do We have to treat him only with nitroprusside?

    If we can give the four medications i described above,we have to give them before physical examination or after physical examination.

    Could you please have a look at this and let me know management clearly.

    Thanks in advance ,

    • By prescribing IV Nitroprusside or other alternatives IV labetalol, nicardipine you already addressing the headache, nausea and vomiting

  5. You did well.

    Here the symptoms – headache, vomiting are due to raised intracranial tension from Hypertensive encephalopathy. So, they should improve on rxng the blood pressure alone. However, you can use symptomatic therapy like tylenol and reglan or zoffran. Phenergan may cause sedation – so stay away in this case.

    Sodium nitroprusside is not given via. arterial line. You probably interpreted it wrong. Arterial line in this case is used to monitor the blood pressure closely and accurately so as to get an accurate reading on Mean arterial pressure (MAP). As you monitor the BP via, arterial line, we can adjust the rate of IV nitroprusside so as to achieve the goal MAP ( make sure not to drop it too fast either). Monitor with A line and order continuous BP monitor along with check, blood pressure every 1hr. Order neurochecks every 2 hrs. HEENT exam on physical to check the eyes and possible papilledema

    Hypertensive encephalopathy begins slowly with onset of headache, nausea and vomiting and then, non focal neuro deficits. In the case above ( note that they gave blood pressure >220/120, which is a cut off BP to start antihypertensive therapy even in a ischemic stroke), if the history or focused physical is not suggestive of ischemic stroke (i.e; no focal neurological deficits) , one should not wait until the CT head is completed to start an antihypertensive agent. CT must be done to rule out cerebral hemorrhage but one should not wait until CT comes back. If you are trying to rule out ischemic stroke based on the CT alone realize that it might not even appear on the CT for first 24 hours. As such, MRI is the best choice to differentiate hypertensive encephalopathy from ischemic stroke but MRI is even more time consuming.

    So go by your clinical exam and history. Because neurologic symptoms ( non localizing neuro deficits like restlessness, confusion, seizures and coma) in hypertensive encephalopathy differ from the sudden onset of focal neurologic symptoms typically seen with a stroke or hemorrhage. Do order a CT scan of head, BMP, Cardiac enzymes ( to rule out other target organ effects like renal failure and myocardial infarction) , CXR, EKG, 2D ECHO, and also start antihypertensive agent on the first screen itself when bp is greater than 220/120. It seems like in the scenario you mentioned, they have waited at least 30 minutes ( CT scan takes 30 mins in ER on the CCS software) which is a delay in managing the above patient.

    If BP is less than 220/120, obtain CT and wait for the CT results to r/o ischemic stroke/ hemorrhage and match with compatible physical exam findings to conclude that it is hypertensive encephalopathy. If no evidence of ischemic stroke, start nitroprusside

    Nitroprusside is usually the drug of choice especially when SBP > 220. Other drugs that can be used are labetalol, nicardipine and fenoldapam

    Now, as you run the drip and monitor BP , the case might end. Sometimes, the case may take you to the next day and farther. Once, patient is clinically better, start oral medications and taper off nitroprusside ( on CCS, monitor BP after starting oral meds and then stop the nitro drip).

    If case ended and you are on 5-minute screen – think what could have caused her HYpertensive emergency? Follow up care, later tests and further work up are important on 5 min screen.

    Most important cause of hypertensive urgency/ emergency is non compliance with medications. However, Work up for secondary hypertension is important in the patients presenting with emergencies like this – i.e; especially if these patients were compliant or if there are any clues to suggest a secondary cause in the history ( episodic headache, palpitations, episodic and labile bp) or physical ( abdominal bruit) or on the labs ( hypokalemia). Order MRA of the renal artery, Calcium level, TSH, plasma metanephrines and obtain PAC/ PRA ratio. Discontinue NSAIDS if the patient is using them for some reason.

  6. another thing – do not give metoprolol yet because you are already starting nitroprusside via IV drip. ONce patient stable, you can start approprial oral medicine ( metoprolol, ACEI or calcium channel blocker/ HCTZ)

  7. Dear Dr. Red,
    My question is related with nephrotic syndrome CCS case.
    How do we know when to treat them as outpatient or inpatient?
    Depends on their albumin levels?
    I read the nefrotic syndrome case from USMLEWORD website (case 46) and now I am confused!
    I will copy-paste that case so you can highlight the differences for me if you have time!
    Thank you very much,
    Paula Stasencu
    CASE Location: Outpatient clinic
    Vitals: Temperature of 36.3C; H.R: 95/min; R.R: 22/min; Blood pressure is 85/50
    lying down and 77/46 mm Hg standing.
    C.C: Swelling
    The patient is a three-year-old white male who presents with his mother for
    evaluation of facial and scrotal swelling of ten days duration. Mother reports
    that the child had been well until one day prior to admission when she noticed
    the onset of swelling in his face. She also noted that he had scrotal swelling
    because he is almost potty trained. She notes some decrease in his urine output
    as well, although no change in color of the urine, other than becoming somewhat
    more concentrated. He has had no preceding diarrheal illness, sore throat,
    abdominal complaints, fevers, and rashes. Mother reports that the child has not
    complained of any pain syndrome. He does seem to be a little bit more tired
    than usual. Birth history is unremarkable. All of his immunizations are up to
    date. SH: He lives with his parents; two older siblings who are healthy, and
    have had no hospitalizations. There are no pets in the home. There are no
    smokers in the home. Risk for tuberculosis is low. Development has been
    How to approach this case?
    Determine the nature and etiology of the “swelling”, including whether it’s
    edema or something like hives. Examine the patient to decide whether he needs
    inpatient or outpatient management.
    Physical exam:
    General appearance
    General: well-developed, well-nourished white male in no acute distress. HEENT:
    remarkable for periorbital edema. Mucous membranes are slightly dry. Neck is
    supple without lymphadenopathy or thyromegaly. Pupils normal. Cardiovascular:
    Regular rate and rhythm without murmurs, rubs or gallops. Lungs: very faint
    rales at the bases and otherwise clear. Abdomen is soft, nontender,
    nondistended. There are normoactive bowel sounds. There is 1+ sacral edema. +
    fluid wave. GU: There is scrotal edema present. There is no tenderness to
    palpation and the cremasteric reflex is intact bilaterally. Extremities: Pulses
    are 2/4 in the radial, femoral, and dorsalis pedis areas. Hands and feet show
    2+ pitting edema and are otherwise unremarkable. Neurologic is nonfocal and
    This is a three-year-old patient who is manifesting signs of generalized edema,
    most prominent in his face hands and scrotum. The leading diagnosis in this age
    frame for such marked edema is nephrotic syndrome secondary to minimal change
    Urinalysis, stat
    Basic metabolic panel, stat
    CBC with differential, stat
    Lipid panel
    Complement 3 and 4 levels
    Urinalysis shows 4+ protein, no blood, no RBCs, specific gravity is 1.030,
    CBC shows a white count of 7, hemoglobin 12.6, hematocrit 36, and platelets 240.
    Complete metabolic panel (LFTs + BMP) reveals an albumin of 1.5, normal liver
    function tests, sodium 130, potassium 4.0, chloride 96, bicarbonate 20, BUN 10,
    creatinine 0.7, glucose 78, calcium 9.4, cholesterol level is 320 mg/dl. Serum
    albumin is 1.5 gm/dl. Serum protein is 3.7. PT, PTT are normal. Complement
    levels within normal. Patient has orthostatic hypotension and mild dehydration.
    Admit to floor
    Vital signs q4; Continuous cardiorespiratory monitoring
    Nephrology consult
    Albumin 25% solution IV, 1 gr/kg body weight, infused over 8 hours
    Lasix (Furosemide), 1 mg/kg, administered halfway through the albumin infusion
    Complete metabolic panel q AM
    No salt added, high protein diet.
    Patient responds with good diuresis to albumin and lasix therapy over 24 hours.
    Vital signs remain stable. Orthostasis resolves.
    Electrolytes and renal function remain stable.
    Prednisone 2 mg/kg per day, may give in divided dose, po
    Vital signs q 12 hours
    Repeat albumin and lasix therapy.
    Patient tolerates prednisone.
    Remains clinically stable.
    Order review:
    Discharge to home.
    Prednisone for 4-6 weeks.
    Follow up in 3-5 days.

  8. Hey Paula,

    All stable nephrotic syndrome (NS) cases are managed as outpatient.

    An outpatient NS child can be treated with salt restriction and prednisone trial. Prednisone should be at least 4 weeks. If things dont improve, prednsone should be continued for another 4 weeks before going for renal biopsy.
    Pneumococcal vaccine should be given to all NS children because they are at high risk of bacterial infection ( include it on your 5 min screen orders)
    NS is a hypercoagulable condition secondary to loss of anti-thrombin III. But there is NO role for DVT prophylaxis with heparin or warfarin in NS. So, the only thing you need to do is ordering activity such as “ambulate” on CCS ( early mobilization)

    Nephrotic syndrome patients should be admitted if they have :
    a) Intravascular volume depletion ( presenting as orthostatic Hypotension or Shock)
    b) Massive Pleural effusions/ Ascites ( presenting with SOB and rales on lung exam).

    Once you admit, realize the reason why you are admitting.

    If the reason is orthostasis/ hypotension – give albumin infusion as albumin mobilizes fluid from outside in to intravascular compartment. This may treat orthostasis. DO NOT USE DIURETICS YET UNLESS THE PATIENT IS COMPLETELY VOLUME STABILIZED. ( Unlike the way they did in UW where they claim that patient is orthostatic and dehydrated and they are also starting lasix even before orthostasis resolved – This is a wrong approach because they should first satbilize the volume. Giving aggressive diuresis in that patient who came with dehydration would cause further volume depletion and may precipitate acute renal failure. You may be penalized for it on the CCS)
    If you admitted the patient for respiratory distress from pleural effusions, give both albumin+lasix to get rid of the fluid from thorax.
    Aggressive diuresis with albumin and furosemide should be given in patients with anasarca who have respiratory distress due to massive ascites or pleural effusions or in cases of scrotal edema so severe that it may cause perforation.

    To summarize your case,

    The case I made you practice in the workshop did not have two things UW included in their case – “ORTHOSTATIC HYPOTENSION” and “DEHYDRATION” – If these are present, patient will need admisssion and albumin infusion ( ( here patient is orthostatic so, albumin is justified but diuretics are not justified unless the patient not orthostatic and also, has resp compromise)
    Patient should also be admitted if he has respiratory distress from pleural effusions/ severe ascites from very low albumin.

    Hope this helps

  9. Hello Doctor,

    1. I did CCS case of HYPERTENSIVE EMERGENCY on USMLEWORLD . when i order ctscan , report time was after 4hrs. it was obvious from physical that he had organ damage like eye changes, raise bun/creat, bp was 230/180. no focal deficits pointing to stroke so i did not wait for 4 hrs and went ahead and gave him IV notropruside., but aassesment says we should start antihypertensive after comfirming no stroke from ctscan.

    should i follow that protocol or am i right in giong ahead and giving him antihypertensive?
    does ctscan take really this much long time in real life i don’tthink, but we should not let pt die in those 4 hrs waiting scan, i mean anything can happen with that high bp.?

    2. please tell me how to differentiate bell’s palsy, stroke, lyme facial palsy?

  10. 1. First and foremost, CT scan takes only 30minutes to come back in the ER setting. If there are no focal neuro deficits, you can start nitroprusside with out waiting for CT however, in a comatose patient it is some times difficult to assess the neurological function. So, wait for Ct and then start nitroprusside. Waiting for 30 minutes for CT is not a big thing.

    I guess if you are using USMLEWORLD software, as per some students, several test report time is wrong there as they did not adequately adjust the report times based on location and some one should write to them to correct those.

    You can try putting CT head, stat on the original test software. The report time changes based on the location. The report time for a CT head stat is 30 minutes in the ER. The report time for CT Head stat is 4 hours in the office. Try it on case 1 and try it on case 2 on the test software and you can appreciate the difference.
    Even if your patient came to the office, if you think you need a stat CT you should send the patient to ER and then order a stat CT

    Q2) clinically, bells palsy involves the whole side of the face where as UMN facial nerve stroke involves lower part of the face unless it is a cortical (central) facial issue. If clinically you have a problem differentiating , CT head and MRI can help r/o stroke.

    Clinically it is difficult to differentiate Late lymes from bells palsy. You need to suspect lyme based on endemicity as well as risk factors like previous tick exposure. If you suspect it, Get a lyme serology. IF serology -ve, rx as bells ( acyclovir+steroids). If serology +ve, use doxycycline

  11. Hello Sir,
    I had taken ur ccs workshop for nov 15
    I had some doubts in the mgt of TRANSIENT ISCHEMIC ATTACKS
    1) If carotid stenosis is detected in doppler ,then is it correct to go directly to surgery or should we do carotid angio before that.
    what r the indications to do carotid angio?

    2) What is the correct approach in management of ischemic and hemorragic stroke including BP control?

    3) I will write the management of SAH
    Please correct me .

    CT SCAN head
    Bed rest
    head elevation
    For sedation can we give morphine?
    bp monitoring
    ecg monitoring
    frequent neurological exam
    carotid angiography
    sent neuro surgery consult if saccular aneurysm
    npo,pt ptt blood grp
    post for surgery
    post op bp monitoring
    patient stable
    discharge on oral anti hypertensives
    appropriate counsel

  12. *** I just wanted to thank you! I have not yet received my score, but I felt very confident with CCS portion. I only had time to practice a few cases a read over some explanations in UW the day before my CCS part of step 3. I do not recommend this, but I had practiced CCS in the past. But the KEY FACTOR was your CCS lecture. The day before day 1 of my step 3 i listened to half of your CCS lecture (which also helped me answering some MCQ’s) and then the other half when I got home after day 1. I cannot tell you how HELPFUL this was for me! I felt as if I was hearing you telling me what to do during the exam. Thank you…regardless of what my score is…thank you! ***


  13. HI DOC,
    I need your your diagnostic work up and treatment for case..54

  14. Hi Dr RED
    I had taken the ccs workshop 2 weeks back…I had a few doubts..

    1. a case of perforated duodenal ulcer in the USMLEWORLD ccs software, they
    want us to wait 12 grs before we take the patient to surgery… the
    patient has rebound tenderness all over the abdomen…is it the right
    approach or do we take the patient right away for laparotomy as it is

    2.i have tried a few cases like tia on USMLEWORLD ..where patient needed carotid
    endarterectomy…and the peritonitis case… the surgeon is not
    accepting the patient for surgery as you had demonstrated in the
    workshop…where the surgeon accepts patient for surgery after the ct
    scan result in aortic dissection … could it be that the software
    is not designed in the way 2 accept for surgery …coz the moment u
    type in the surgery name the case ends. we have to discontinue the oral meds of patients when we admit
    for hypertensive meds and diabetic oral meds…what is
    the protocol for the meds patent already is using?

    Thanks a lot


  15. Dear Huma,

    Q1. If you can recall, I remember telling you some fatal mistakes in UW software during the workshop.
    This is one such fatal mistake in their algorithm writing and also not following the correct indication sfor Surgery. This should not lead you to think that surgery must be delayed. In the exam, if you find critical signs such as generalized rebound tenderness or rigidity, call surgical consult STAT and
    surgery will accept that patient. Once surgeon accepts, order pre-op orders. If there is no rebound tenderness or rigidity, one may wait as some small perforations may seal up —> I mean to say if symptoms and signs of generalized peritonitis are absent, a conservative approach hence can be used but not when peritonitis is present.

    Q2. Again, I mentioned this in the workshop. Please do not go with what UW said in those cases, these are errors. UW is a good source but you should know these serious errors in some cases. In your exam, if you call the surgeon and if you have met the criteria for sirgery –> Surgeon will accept. Once you get the acceptance, put the pre-op orders such as NPO, IVA, NSS, Type and crossmatch, obtain consent and Name of the procedure.

    Q3. Once you place the patient on NPO, you may switch necessary medications to IV route

    Good Luck


  16. Dear Dr. Red
    It was great to do workshop with you this Sunday. You mentioned that while patient is home waiting for next appointment and we get any abonormal labe like low hb. low hct then we can order iron studies at the same time. After doing so we reschedule appointment. In Usmle world I treid to do it but it did not allow me. Should I try on ecfmg five cases?

  17. Sir, I can not thank you enough for what your course has done to me. I got my score today and passed with a dazzling 246/99. Words can not express my gratitude because everything you said worked for me. This is you victory and I hope you will continue to help many more ppl like me. I am looking for prematch and if you can give me any tips, I would greatly appreciate it.

  18. Anjum asked, ” In Usmle world I treid to do it but it did not allow me. Should I try on ecfmg five cases?”

    Yes Anjum.
    That is a big drawback with USMLE World software. It is not an exact copy of USMLE CCS Software. Please practice those usmle world cases on USMLE CCS Software. If you train yourself on USMLE World in the above way, you can get in to problems on the exam with the office cases. If you put in orders on USMLE Original software, you can see that it allows you to order follow up labs even when your patient is at home. This is what we all do in clinical practice as well. A patient need not come to office time and again just for follow up lab work.

  19. Dr. Red, thank you very much for good practice I got listening to your workshops. I think, it will greatly improve my score on Step 3. I have some questions and would like to ask your favor to answer. One of them is: what is your general approach in HIV case: something like office case of young pt with cough or diarrhea and no obvious h/o multiple sex partners. In my opinion, it would be a good one to practice. Also, peds case of piloric stenosis or intussiseption. The other question is that my hours of watching running out quicker than I expected. Is it something wrong in the way they calculated? Because I resently purchased it, and it’s already just a few left. I think, every time I watch part of the video, it still counts as a whole video. So, if would clarify, please. Next question, during workshops, you mention sometimes, question logs. Could you, please, explain what it is. Last 2 questions: what is the best e-mail to reach you, and how individual ccs tutoring works, price, hours, etc. Thank you!
    With respect, Gennadiy.

  20. Dear Dr Red,

    Nice talking to you today. Thank you for pointing to your blog. It looks vey helpful and i have to keep coming back to join the discussion. Your help is appreciated.


  21. I attended your CCS workshop on 1/16/2011 which I found very useful. Thanks very much! I had a question about the IV normal saline that we order as a part of so many cases. What kind of NSS should it be – 0.9% or half-normal or other? Can I just assume to order 0.9% NSS for most cases without worrying about it too much? Or are there any indications which dictate this decision – for example, ordering half NSS as opposed to 0.9% when BMP shows hypernatremia/normal sodium?

    • Dear Adi,

      Thank you for your feedback.
      For all cases on hypotension, shock or dehydration i.e; the cases in which you already know that the patient is hypovolemic, it is important to use isotonic fluid such as 0.9% NS. Most other cases, where you start a temporary fluid before when you place a patient NPO, start 0.9% NS if you expect to start a diet with in next 24 hours.
      For cases of DKA, start with 0.9% NS but once sugar falls below 250mg% , change to d51/2ns . For cases of hyponatremia and hypernatremia, you must balance the fluid choice. For example, for a patient with hypovolemic hypernatremia with out CNS manifestations, I would still use 0.9% NS where as for a patient with CNS manifestations and euvolemic hypernatremia, I would use 5% DEXTROSE IV ( This is like giving IV free water with No Na in it). For a patient with euvolemic hypernatremia with no symptoms, I would use free water orally. So, you need to apply the concept of IV fluid depending on the case you are dealing with. But for most other cases, just choose 0.9% NS.

      I have explained all the fluid choices and electrolyte management in Nephrology/ Acid-Base lecture. If you need more information, please review it.

      Wish you all the best.


      • Thanks a bunch Dr Red, as usual!

        I had another query pertaining to the differences between the management of NSTEMI and STEMI. Actually, there was some disturbance in the audio transmission at my end during that case due to which I did not get to hear to it in totality.

        i) I know thrombolytics have no role in NSTEMI.
        ii) What about heparin usage? I know that heparin is used routinely in NSTEMI. But we used heparin in STEMI too during the case practice that day?
        iii) GIIb/IIIa are routinely indicated in NSTEMI while they are indicated only before/during angioplasty in STEMI. Right?
        iv) Angioplasty is not the front runner in management of NSTEMI unlike STEMI. But what are the indications to its use in NSTEMI? One that I could hear was when chest pain fails to show remission. Others?
        v) Any other differences?


  22. Hello Dr. Red,

    Can you please walk through the management of Cases 3, 4, 9, 20, 28, 31, 47, 48, 84, 88, 94, 97.

    Thank you!

  23. Dear Sir, could you please explain the approach for these cases
    1. 17 yr old with depression
    2. TB
    3. Cellulitis
    4. Pulmonary HTN
    5. Atrophic vaginitis
    6. Ovarian cyst
    7. Post-op atelectasis
    8. STEMI
    9. Aortic aneurysm

  24. Follow us on slideshare or visit our Facebook page to access High-yield USMLE Step 3 CCS cases

  25. Hello Dr Red

  26. Apart from surgery and minor procedure, when do you make a patient npo?

  27. Dear Dr Red,
    I had a quick question for the ccs case on MI. after confirming the stemi with an EKG, we give LMWH along with other mortality lowering drugs. but what if the pt has a contraindication to recieving heparin?? (surgery, hemmorhage wtc int he past month…).. do we just not give it?

  28. Dear Poonam,

    Only absolute contraindications to LMWH or heparin in the setting of acute MI is “active” “gross” or life threatening bleeding or history of Heparin induced thrombocytopenia.
    Bleeding in the past or occult blood in stool are not a contraindication to heparin in Acute MI setting because benefits far outweigh the risks of using LMWH in such acute setting .
    Not giving LMWH of Heparin based on these minor issues will reduce your score in the Acute MI case management.

    Best wishes

  29. Dear Dr. Red,

    At the workshop, I remember you mentioned something about redo physical exam once the clock is stopped. Would you please tell me more about it? When I practiced office cases in the UW software, my patient showed up before the appointment time. I am not sure what happened there. I didn’t know what to do. Is it a good strategy not to stop the clock? If unstable sign is present, can we just fix the problem right then rather than stopping the stock. I am not fully understood the consequence of stopping the clock and what to do afterward.
    Thank you

  30. Dear Dr. Red,
    I would like to thank you for the great effort you are doing for our benefit. After ur ppv recorded sessions and blog lectures I feel myself ready for the exam, but I still have difficulty in MCQs… can I improve my score in that part? any tips ?
    thanks again for reading my comment.

    • Dear Nada, you are welcome. Thank you for your feedback. If you are in Non-Internal medicine specialty; MCQs are usually, more difficult to improve when compared to the CCS. The best way to improve on the MCQs is to do a large number of questions so that your brain gets used to the complex analytical process. If your averages are too low, you must go back to the basics of Step 2CK to strengthen your clinical concepts and then, move on to Step 3 MCQs. I recommend that you take NBME Self Assessment a month prior to your exam in order to assess your readiness. Please let me know what your NBME scores are and I can guide you from there.
      Wish you all the best

  31. Thank you Dr. Red for your concern,
    I did 1st NBMEset & scored 280 ( too bad). Last year, in my step 2 CK I 1st scored in NBME 240 then after 2 months 420 , so I believed I will do OK in the actual test, but unfortunately I scored 193/ 78, while my step 1 was 202/83.
    I am an OBGYN, but concentrating most on medicine in my study and began since september 2011. I was hoping that will take my step 3 early Feb 2012, but I rescheduled when i found out my poor score.
    I did UW and average score was 60.
    I need a good score in step 3 so that I can at least improve the impression about step 2.
    thanks again and looking forward to hearing from you soon.

  32. sorry for the miss understanding but my NBME step3 score is 280.
    I will try with more MCQ practice…..thank you.

  33. Dear Dr Red,
    I took your ccs course in Dec 2011. I have a query in CCS
    1)iN TIA case do we need to order MRI head and MRA of carotids before doing carotid endarterectomy if the Doppler usg carotid alraedy shows 70% stenosis?
    2)In a classic case presenting with Raised JVP, indistint heart sounnds and hypotension can we straighta away order Pericardiocentesis after physical exam , or order 2decho-which takes 30min.


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  36. Dr. Red,

    Thank you for wonderful workshops.

    Would you please solve following queries?

    Benzodiazepin Poisoning (flumazenil or just observe pt/ in MTB it is written that no specific treatment for BZ poisoning, it doesn’t kill pt so just observe after primary treatment (cocktail, iv NSS),

    Ectopic pregnancy (if pt is stable, should admit to ward? Should order methotrexate oral/IM/IV continuous or oral/IV/IM one time. ),

  37. Dear Dr. Red,

    I have another query. If you get time, Please reply on queries.

    In management of foreign body: should I wait for xray chest and xray neck results for ordering pulmonology consult and bronchoscopy. In UW format, even after getting results of both xray, when I order pedia pulmonology consult, they decline and say to manage medically. When I place order for bronchoscopy after getting pulmonology consult, software again ask for pulmonary consult. So in short, I have to place both consult and bronchoscopy order on same time. You told to wait till consult done and then order procedure. Did bronchoscopy need consult? In foreign body case bronchoscopy is must. So if pulmonology consult say to treat medically. Should I order bronchoscopy though?
    Well, in USMLE practice session there is no case for foreignbody. So they usually decline bronchoscopy procedure.

    Please reply.

    Thanks a lot

  38. i took my step 3 recently…In all my cases it ended before time.. there were few cases where I consult surgeon and he accepted the procedure and case ended.. I wrote preop orders required for surgery. I WROTE required surgery on consult but not on order sheet as I thought since case ended automatically on consult and asked do ur medical management… I did not mention planned surgery on order sheet…. Will it affect my score….Will I pass?????????

    • Usually, what you type on “reason for consult” or “diagnosis” screens is not scored. If you did not write the name of surgery in the pre-op orders but you have done everything to meet the CRITERIA for surgery and since, surgeon accepted the patient as well, your work-up and sequencing were correct. I think you will do well. Keep us posted. Good luck

  39. Dr. Red:

    Thank you for the STEMI cases you presented in your 2/2012 and 3/2012 workshops.

    I am trying to understand the timing of the ER->ICU location change in UWorld Case 17 (Unstable Angina). The patient has ST depressions on EKG, and UWorld recommends cardiac catheterization per the 2007 UA/NSTEMI Guidelines Table 5.

    In both STEMI cases you presented on 2/2012 and 3/2012, you recommended ordering cardiology consult & cath directly from the ER. However, in UWorld’s recommended “Clock Management,” they transfer the patient to the ICU after his first set of negative cardiac enzymes, and only then do they consult cardiology, wait for their recommendation, and order cardiac cath & coronary angioplasty. Is there a reason one would first transfer a patient to the ICU in an unstable angina case w/ST depressions that requires cardiac cath instead of ordering the cath directly from the ER?

    Thank you.

    • Dear Mk,
      STEMI protocol requires you to act swiftly as soon as you make the diagnosis right from the ER. The goal is to keep the “Door to balloon” time under 90 minutes and you will be scored based on this fact. Moving to the ICU from the ER is a waste of time – cath lab should be alerted and cardiology must be consulted directly from the emergency room as soon as STEMI diagnosis is made. In fact, transferring to ICU and wasting precious time in STEMI case can reduce your score on the CCS.
      Thank you

      • Dr. Red:
        Thank you for your rapidly reply that, as the goal is to keep “Door to balloon” time under 90 minutes in a STEMI case, we can reduce our score on the CCS by transferring the patient to the ICU prior to cath. Thus, we should alert the cath lab and consult cardiology directly from the ER. Thank you again.

  40. Hi Dr. Red,

    I have purchased your $88 CCS workshop and I found it awesome! Now I am studying with FRED software.
    About eclampsia case; my aproach is like below; (this is 38 week gestation)

    first emergent order: iva, oxygen, cardiac, bp monitor, fetal monitor

    then focused exam: cv,lung,abdomen,ekst., neuro, genital

    magnesium iv therapy
    pt, ptt
    magnesium levels
    neurocheck (to evaluate DTR)
    consult obst

    then I would like to check if patient BP is going down and patient reports having contractions every 8-10 minute
    Then I check cervix quickly which is 1 cm dilated
    I give vaginal misoprostol and

    case end..

    My question is; Do I need to wait until physical exam to start Magnesium? Because I know patient has seizure, has high BP and history of leg swelling- it means eclampsia.

    After first set of orders I would like to check how BP improves, check neuro exam but patient start to have contraction and case end quickly after i ask consult or give misoprostol. I cannot order vaginal delivery or C section. Is my algorithm correct?

    Last question, Do I need to order vaginal exam or C section at final screen?


  41. HI Dr Red
    How to manage the pediatric case with substance abuse or oppositional defiant disorder?

    how to manage the stable angina becomes unstable angina——–

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