This aim of the study was to evaluate the tracheal intubation success rate of doctors drawn from different clinical specialities performing rapid sequence intubation (RSI) in the pre-hospital environment operating on the Warwickshire and Northamptonshire Air Ambulance. Over a 5-year period, RSI was performed in 200 cases (3.1/month).
Failure to intubate was declared if >2 successive attempts were required to achieve intubation or an ETT could not be placed correctly necessitating the use of an alternate airway. Successful intubation occurred in 194 cases, giving a failure rate of 3% (6 cases, 95% CI 0.6 to 5.3%). While no difference in failure rate was observed between emergency department (ED) staff and anaesthetists (2.73% (3/110, 95% CI 0 to 5.7%) vs 0% (0/55, 95% CI 0 to 0%); p=0.55), a significant difference was found when non-ED, non- anaesthetic staff (GP and surgical) were compared to anaesthetists (10.34% (3/29, 95% CI 0 to 21.4%) vs 0%; p=0.04). There was no significant difference associated with seniority of practitioner (p=0.65). The authors conclude that non-anaesthetic practitioners have a higher tracheal intubation failure rate during pre-hospital RSI, which may reflect a lack of training opportunities.
The small numbers of ‘failure’ rates, combined with the definition of failure in this study, make it hard to draw generalisations. Of note is that the paper lists the outcomes of the six patients who met the failed intubation definition, all of whom appear to have had their airway satisfactorily maintained by the RSI practitioner, three by eventual tracheal intubation, one by LMA, and two by surgical airway. More data are needed before whole specialties are judged on the performance of a small group of doctors.
A single centre observational study of rapid sequence intubation (RSI) was performed in a Scottish Emergency Department (ED) over four and a quarter years, followed by a postal survey of ED RSI operators.
There were 329 RSIs during the study period. RSI was performed by emergency physicians (both trained specialists and training grade, or ‘registrar’ doctors) in 288 (88%) patients. Complication rates were low and there were only two failed intubations requiring surgical airways (0.6%). ED registrars were the predominant RSI operator, with 206 patients (63%). ED consultants performed RSIs on 82 (25%) patients, anaesthetic registrars on 31 (9.4%) patients, and anaesthetic consultants on 8 (2.4%) patients. An ED consultant was present during every RSI performed and an anaesthetist was present during 72 (22%). The average number of ED registrars during this period of training was 8. This equates to each ED trainee performing approximately 26 ED RSIs (6.5 RSIs/year). On average, ED consultants performed 14 RSIs during this period (approx 3.5 RSIs/year). Of the 17 questionnaires, 12 were completed, in all of which cases the trainees were confident to perform RSI independently at the end of registrar training. Interestingly, 45 (14%) of the RSIs in the study were done in the pre-hospital environment by ED staff, two thirds of which were done by ED consultants.
More junior pre-hospital doctors took longer on scene than their senior colleagues according to a German study, although patient clinical factors were the main determinant of scene time. The majority of cases were non-trauma presentations
Duration of mission time in prehospital emergency medicine: effects of emergency severity and physicians level of education Emerg Med J 2010;27:398-403
Hospitals and medical personnel performing high volumes of procedures demonstrate better patient outcomes and fewer adverse events. The relationship between rescuer experience and patient survival for out-of-hospital endotracheal intubation is unknown.
An American study analysing 3 statewide databases with 26,000 records aimed to determine the association between endotracheal intubation experience and patient survival.
In-the-field intubators were EMS paramedics, nurses, and physicians, although paramedics performed more than 94% of out-of-hospital tracheal intubations. Although all air medical rescuers may use neuromuscular- blockade-assisted (rapid sequence) tracheal intubation, select ground EMS units are allowed to use tracheal intubation facilitated by sedatives only; the rest are done ‘cold’.
Patients in cardiac arrest and medical nonarrest experienced increased odds of survival when intubated by rescuers with high procedural experience. In trauma patients, survival was not associated with rescuer experience.
The odds of survival for air medical trauma patients were almost twice that of other patients, which may be related to the use of neuromuscular- blocking agents by air medical crews, or due to more specialised critical care training. The authors suggest that rescuers should perform at least 4 to 12 annual tracheal intubations.
Medical students and junior doctors were successfully taught correct airway management positioning for intubation on a manikin when told to position the manikin in the best position to win a running race, where the chin wins the race. (The so-called ‘win with the chin’ position). This was superior to the traditional ‘sniff the morning air’ position.
During simulated cardiac arrest resuscitations, a comparision was made between those run by teams that had had time to form before the arrest, and those that had to be assembled ad hoc after the arrest occurred. 99 teams of three doctors, including GPs and hospital physicians were studied. ACLS algorithms were less closely followed in the ad hoc formed teams, with more delays to therapies such as defibrillation. Analysis of voice recordings revealed the ad hoc teams to make fewer leadership utterances (eg. ‘we should defibrillate’ or ‘the next countershock will be 360J’) and more reflective utterances (eg. ‘what should we do next?’). The authors suggest that team building is therefore to be regarded as an additional task imposed on teams formed ad hoc during CPR that may substantially impact on outcome. No surprise to those of us who banned ‘cardiac arrest teams’ from our emergency department resuscitation rooms many years ago!
Hands-on time during cardiopulmonary resuscitation is affected by the process of teambuilding: a prospective randomised simulator-based trial