Managing the emergency airway is one of the most important and risky things we do. We have a responsibility to record, monitor, report and improve our performance.
In the US, the National Emergency Airway Registry has been running for over a decade and has significantly contributed to our airway knowledge base.
In the UK, the NAP4 audit provided fascinating and scary insight into complications of emergency airway management.
Pre-hospital registries have been developed, like Minh Le Cong’s Flying Doctor Emergency Airway Registry; and many of us are now contributing to the Airway Management Study in Physician Manned Helicopter Emergency Medical Services (AIRPORT) study.
Now there is an opportunity for Australasian emergency departments to contribute to a national audit.
Dr Toby Fogg FACEM, emergency physician at Royal North Shore Hospital in Sydney, who began the registry, explained in a recent Life in The Fast Lane response:
I have been running an airway registry in the ED at The Royal North Shore Hospital in Sydney for the last 2 years.
I presented the first 18 months of data at the ASM in Sydney last year and I must admit, they showed room for improvement!.
One of the many things we have subsequently done is introduced a Pre Intubation Checklist which I have published, along with our preliminary findings, at www.airwayregistry.org.au.
I am happy for people to download the file and use it as is, or with appropriate modifications.
Furthermore I would love to hear from anyone keen to undertake an Airway Registry in their own ED — a PDF of the data collection form we use is also on the website.
As the authors of the NAP4 study conclude, it is essential we all audit our practice of this potentially high risk procedure.
Background: Successful airway management is one of the cornerstones of care for critically ill or injured patients in the Emergency Department (ED). The risks of intubation are known to be higher in this environment than in the operating theatre (OT) yet there are no published data on airway management in an Australian ED.
Objectives: To describe the practice of intubation in the ED of a tertiary hospital in Australia, with particular emphasis on the number of attempts, adjuncts used, the seniority of staff involved and the rate of complications.
Methods: A prospective, observational study.
Results: Over the 18-month study period, 295 episodes of intubation occurred with a total of 345 attempts. Consultant supervision occurred in 69.8% of cases, registrars made the first attempt at intubation in 57.5% and SRMOs in 31.0% of the patients. 83.7% of the patients were intubated at the first pass with a further 13.0% intubated one the second attempt. This leaves 10 patients (3.4%) that required ≥3 attempts, 4 (1.4%) ≥4 attempts and 1 (0.4%) required a 5th attempt. Difficult laryngoscopy, as defined by Cormack and Lehane grade III or IV, occurred in 24% of the first attempts. Bougies were used in 36% of attempts, whilst a stylet in 35%. Video laryngoscopy was used in 47.5% of attempts. Complications occurred in 28%.
Discussion: The success rate within two attempts is comparable to the anaesthetic literature, and although high, the rate of complications is comparable to data from EDs overseas. The rate of difficult laryngoscopy, however, is surprisingly high. The study has prompted a significant review of airway training and management within the ED at Royal North Shore Hospital and the results of the interventions will be monitored.
The Royal North Shore Hospital Emergency Department Airway Registry. A Prospective Observational Study of Airway Management in a Tertiary Hospital Emergency Department in Sydney, Australia
Annesley N,Vassiliadis J, Kerry Hitos K, Fogg T
Emerg. Med. Australas. 24 (Suppl. 1):27-28