Our Respiratory Care Services Department provides an endotracheal intubation service that responds to all intubation requests. Intubation is performed by registered respiratory therapists who complete an 8-hour training program, advanced cardiac life support (ACLS) training and certification, and clinical performance of intubation with supervision. The goals of this service are (1) to provide competent persons for performing this service, (2) to assure a rapid response time, and (3) to be cost-effective.
Evaluation methods: A retrospective analysis of our service was conducted over a 1-year period (7/90 to 6/91), and calculations were made of the intubation success rate and complication rate.
Results: Of the 833 total intubations, 791 were successfully performed by respiratory care practitioners; 730 of those successful intubations (92.3%) were accomplished in fewer than 3 attempts. Recognized complications occurred in 96 intubations (12.1%) and included oral bleeding, vomiting, and short periods of oxygen desaturation. In the 5.1% (42) of the patients not intubated by our service, 22 required heavy sedation, and an anesthesiologist was consulted; 17 patients were intubated by other physicians; and 3 tracheotomies were performed. Multiple intubation attempts were a result of secretions, induced bradycardia, blade-light malfunction, damaged cuff, and esophageal intubations.
Conclusion: Respiratory Care Services can provide an effective intubation service. Cost savings were realized by centralizing equipment.