Pre-hospital intubation by anaesthesiologists in patients with severe trauma: an audit of a Norwegian helicopter emergency medical service
TypeJournal article; Peer reviewed
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Background Anaesthesiologists are airway management experts, which is one of the reasons why they serve as pre-hospital emergency physicians in many countries. However, limited data are available on the actual quality and safety of anaesthesiologist-managed pre-hospital endotracheal intubation (ETI). To explore whether the general indications for ETI are followed and what complications are recorded, we analysed the use of pre-hospital ETI in severely traumatised patients treated by anaesthesiologists in a Norwegian helicopter emergency medical service (HEMS). Methods A retrospective audit of prospectively registered data concerning patients with trauma as the primary diagnosis and a National Committee on Aeronautics score of 4 - 7 during the period of 1994-2005 from a mixed rural/urban Norwegian HEMS was performed. Results Among the 1255 cases identified, 238 successful pre-hospital ETIs out of 240 attempts were recorded (99.2% success rate). Furthermore, we identified 47 patients for whom ETI was performed immediately upon arrival to the emergency department (ED). This group represented 16% of all intubated patients. Of the ETIs performed in the ED, 43 patients had an initial Glasgow Coma Score (GCS) < 9. Compared to patients who underwent ETI in the ED, patients who underwent pre-hospital ETI had significantly lower median GCS (3 (3-6) vs. 6 (4-8)), lower revised trauma scores (RTS) (3.8 (1.8-5.9) vs. 5.0 (4.1-6.0)), longer mean scene times (23 ± 13 vs. 11 ± 11 min) and longer mean transport times (22 ± 16 vs. 13 ± 14 min). The audit also revealed that very few airway management complications had been recorded. Conclusions We found a very high success rate of pre-hospital ETI and few recorded complications in the studied anaesthesiologist-manned HEMS. However, a substantial number of trauma patients were intubated first on arrival in the ED. This delay may represent a quality problem. Therefore, we believe that more studies are needed to clarify the reasons for and possible clinical consequences of the delayed ETIs.
CitationScandinavian Journal of Trauma, Resuscitation and Emergency Medicine 18:30
Copyright 2010 Sollid et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.
Sollid et al
Sollid et al